Peveril Meigs Baja California Research Materials, 1925 - 1979 (MSS 530)

Extent: 12.4 Linear feet (5 archives boxes and 8 oversized folders)

Digital Content

Journals and photographic images from the collection have been digitized.

Photographs, journals, maps and related research materials on Baja California, Mexico, created by geographer Peveril Meigs III. Meigs conducted field research in northern Baja between 1925 and 1936 observing geology, climate, indigenous populations, mission sites, and local culture in preparation for his 1932 doctoral dissertation entitled "The Dominican Missions of Lower California" and his ethnographic monograph entitled The Kiliwa Indians of Lower California (1939).

Peveril Meigs, III was born in Flushing, New York, on May 5, 1903. His family moved to Santa Barbara, California, and Meigs later attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an A.B. (1925) and a Ph.D (1932) in geography. As an undergraduate studying with Dr. Carl O. Sauer, Meigs became interested in Baja California and planned his first trip to the peninsula in the summer of 1925, accompanied by fellow graduate student Charles Warren Thornthwaite.

On his first trip, Meigs and Thornthwaite travelled as far south as San Fernando de Velicatá and visited David Goldbaum in Ensenada, the Johnson Ranch in San Antonio del Mar, the Hamilton Ranch, the flour mill and saltworks at San Quintín, the Meling Ranch, and the mining center of Real Del Castillo. They also made a long stay in the town of El Rosario, a brief tour of Mexicali and visited the Dominican mission sites of San Fernando, El Rosario, Santo Domingo, and San Pedro Mártir.

Meigs returned to Berkeley as a graduate student in the fall of 1925, presented his photographs to a seminar in geography and stimulated interest in the peninsula among graduate students and faculty, including Dr. Oscar Schmieder, who went on to study the Russian colony in the Guadalupe Valley. In the summer of 1926, Dr. Sauer, Meigs, and graduate students Sam Dicken and Fred Kniffen embarked upon a second trip that retraced many of the destinations of the first and concentrated on Dominican mission sites. Sauer and Meigs returned and published "Site and Culture at San Fernando de Velicatá," the first installment in a Baja California series published by the University of California Press. Sauer served as Meigs's advisor as he continued his graduate studies and began work on his dissertation.

Meigs returned to Baja California each summer for the next three years, focusing on the history and geography of the Dominican missions and the native populations surrounding them. In 1927, Meigs was accompanied by Horace Byers, a Berkeley undergraduate interested in making meteorological observations. In 1928, Meigs, under the direction of Dr. A.L. Kroeber and accompanied by his wife Yvonne, spent several weeks living with and studying the Kiliwa Indians in Valle Trinidad. He was joined by his brother Stewart on a similar trip in 1929.

Meigs returned to the peninsula to complete his studies of the Kiliwa Indians in 1936. The results of these studies were published in 1939 as The Kiliwa Indians of Lower California.

Following several teaching apppointments in California and Louisiana, Meigs served as a geographer with the Office of Strategic Services (1942-1945) and the Arctic Institute of North America (1948-1949). While he spent most of his professional career studying the physical geography of arid and arctic zones, Meigs returned to his Baja California studies in the 1970s, publishing several articles in Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly that reexamined his earlier field work.

Peveril Meigs died September 16, 1979, in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Photographs, journals, maps and related research materials on Baja California, Mexico, created by geographer Peveril Meigs III. Meigs conducted field research in northern Baja between 1925 and 1936 observing geology, climate, indigenous populations, mission sites, and local culture in preparation for his 1932 doctoral dissertation entitled "The Dominican Missions of Lower California" and his ethnographic monograph entitled The Kiliwa Indians of Lower California (1939).

The collection contains journals with daily observations of people, the natural environment and historical sites; photographic prints, scans of negatives, and glass lantern slides, some of which have been mounted in albums; and hand drawn maps, particularly of the area around Arroyo Leon. The journals and all photographic images have been digitized and are available for viewing on the UC San Diego Library Digital Collections website. The collection also includes notes and typescripts on Meigs's fieldwork and published sources on Baja California and Dominican mission history; annotated publications; and correspondence with his dissertation advisor, Dr. Carl Sauer, and other notable scholars including ethnographer A.L. Kroeber, geographer Homer Aschmann, and historian Peter Gerhard. Of interest is Meigs's translation, from Spanish into English, of Dominican padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas," notes and data compiled in the 1950s on Baja California's climate history, and several papers by Meigs on peninsular Indian culture written in the 1970s. The collection does not contain material related to Meigs's research on other arid deserts or tide mills.


SEPARATION NOTE: Published books, journals, and maps from the Peveril Meigs collection have been separated from the papers and added Library's holdings. To identify and list these items, conduct an author search in the ROGER catalog on the term "Meigs, Peveril 1903 1979 Former Owner."

Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) CORRESPONDENCE: Letters from other Baja California historians, geographers, and anthropologists, as well as editors, booksellers, and family members. Notable correspondents include Carl Sauer, A.L. Kroeber, Homer Aschmann, and Peter Gerhard. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Box 1 Folder 1
A-Z Miscellaneous
Box 1 Folder 2
Antigua Libreria Robredo, 1949
Box 1 Folder 3
Aschmann, Homer, 1954

Includes Baja California climatic data charts.

Box 1 Folder 4
Brand, Donald D., 1939
Box 1 Folder 5
Dawson's Book Shop, 1979

Glen Dawson.

Box 1 Folder 6
Gerhard, Peter, 1943 - 1951
Box 1 Folder 7
Kelly, William, 1940 - 1949
Box 1 Folder 8
Kroeber, A.L., 1932 - 1939
Box 1 Folder 9
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, 1935
Box 1 Folder 10
Meigs, Loren (brother), 1925 - 1932
Box 1 Folder 11
Sauer, Carl, 1927 - 1931
Box 1 Folder 12
Smith, Helen, 1970 - 1971
Box 1 Folder 13
West, Robert, 1979


Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) WRITINGS BY MEIGS: Drafts summarizing field notes, typescripts, notes on bibliographic sources, and reprints of Meigs's work related to Baja California, including research notes for his published works on the Kiliwa Indians and several reprints of articles published in Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly. Of interest is Meigs's translation of Padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas," an important account on Dominican activity in Baja California. Materials are arranged alphabetically.

Box 1 Folder 14
Baja California bibliographies, 1952 - 1961
Box 1 Folder 15
Baja California climatic data, 1919 - 1967

Notes and charts.

Box 1 Folder 16
Capes of Human Hair from Baja California and Outside, 1970

Reprint and negative of illustration. Published in Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 1970.

Box 1 Folder 17
Creation Myth and Other Recollections of the Niji Mishkwish, 1971

Reprint, draft, photograph, drawing, and map. Published in Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 1971.

Box 1 Folder 18
Crespi diary notes
Box 1 Folder 19
Dominican Mission Frontier of Lower California, 1935


Box 1 Folder 20
Kiliwa Indians - Dialects
Box 1 Folder 21
Kiliwa Indians - Notes, 1917 - 1977
Box 1 Folder 22
Kiliwa Indians - Valle Trinidad notes, 1929
Box 1 Folder 23
Kiliwa Indians of Lower California, 1932 - 1969

Correspondence and manuscript draft.

Box 1 Folder 24
Miscellaneous notes
Box 1 Folder 25
Notes on the Paipai of San Isidoro, Baja California, 1977

Reprint. Published in Pacific Coast Archeological Society Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 1977.

Box 1 Folder 26
Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas, by Luis Sales. Translated by Meigs


Box 1 Folder 27
Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas, by Luis Sales. Translated by Meigs


Box 1 Folder 28
Rains and hurricanes in southern Baja California, 1966

Draft and notes.

Box 1 Folder 29
Some Pictographs in Northern Baja California, 1976

Reprint. Published in Pacific Coast Archeological Society Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 1976.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) WRITINGS BY OTHERS: Baja California-related publications by other authors that have been heavily annotated by Meigs. Arranged in alphabetical order.

Box 1 Folder 30
Diary of Junipero Serra; Mch. 28 - June 30, 1769. Part III, 1902

Published in OUTWEST, vol. 16, no. 5.

Box 1 Folder 31
Gifford, E.W. "The Kamia of Imperial Valley", 1931

Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 97.

Box 2 Folder 1
Gifford, E.W. and R.H. Lowie. "Notes on the Akwa'ala Indians of Lower California", 1929

University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 23, No. 7, pp. 339-352. 2 copies, both annotated by Meigs.

Box 2 Folder 2
Hastings, James Rodney, ed. Climatological Data For Baja California , 1964

University of Arizona. Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Technical Reports on the Meteorology and Climatology of Arid Regions, No. 14.

Box 2 Folder 3
Hendry, George W. "Francisco Palou's Boundary Marker", 1926

California Historical Society, San Francisco, 1926.

Box 2 Folder 4
Mexico. Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganaderia. Servicio Meteorologico Mexicano, 1924 - 1954

Manuscript meteorological data charts recording temperature, rainfall, dominant wind direction, number of days of fog, and number of cloudy days for reporting stations in Baja California and Sonora from the 1920s to the 1950s. Completeness of the data varies for each station

Box 2 Folder 5
Nelson, Edward W. Lower California And Its Natural Resources , 1921

Published in Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. XVI.

Box 2 Folder 6
North Mexican Center for Anthropology, 1953


Box 2 Folder 7
Rogers, Malcolm J. "The Stone Art of the San Dieguito Plateau", 1929

Reprinted from American Anthropologist, Vol. 31, No. 3, July-September 1929.

Box 2 Folder 8
Shreve, Forest. "A Desert by the Sea", 1935

Carnegie Institution of Washington, News Service Bulletin, School Edition. Vol. 3, No. 26, Release Date Sunday, September 29, 1935.

Box 2 Folder 9
Shreve, Forest and R.D. Mallery. "Desert Investigations", 1934

Annual Report of the Division of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1933-1934. Issued December 14, 1934.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) JOURNALS: Meigs's field notes from his annual summer expeditions to Baja California, 1925-1929. Notably absent from the series are his notes from 1936. While the journals mostly contain daily accounts of his field work, including land measurements, sketch maps, photograph captions, and interviews with subjects, the 1925 journal begins six months before he enters the field, offering a glimpse of Meigs's life as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The final entry in the series is a copy of Dr. Oscar Schmieder's study of the Russian colony at Guadalupe Valley, heavily annotated by Meigs while he studied the Kiliwa Indians in 1929. The journals were numbered by Meigs and are arranged chronologically.

Box 2 Folder 10
Outlined account of Baja California explorations, 1926 - 1928

Contains references to journal page numbers and photographs. Probably created in preparation for a publication for the Baja California Travel Series.

Box 2 Folder 11
Box 2 Folder 12

June 25 - July 26. Baja California. Notes before going and measurements of elevation.

Box 2 Folder 13

May - June. Baja California. Sauer's trip 1.

Box 2 Folder 14

June - July. Baja California. Sauer's trip 2.

Box 2 Folder 15

July - August. Baja California. Sauer's trip 3.

Box 3 Folder 1

May - June. Baja California. Field notes 1.

Box 3 Folder 2

Meteorological data. Includes newspaper articles about Meig's 1926 and 1927 explorations.

Box 3 Folder 3

One entry, dated May 14.

Box 3 Folder 4

June - July. Field notes 2.

Box 3 Folder 5

Volume contains "1927, July - August, Field notes 3"; "1927-1928, Winter"; and "1928, Summer, 2 weeks, includes Kiliwa study."

Box 3 Folder 6

Kiliwa study, first summer, with Yvonne, 1.

Box 3 Folder 7

Kiliwa study, first summer, with Yvonne, 2.

Box 3 Folder 8


Box 3 Folder 9

Santa Catalina Mission. Geography of Kiliwas.

Box 3 Folder 10

Schmieder, Oscar. "Lower Californian Studies. II. The Russian colony of Guadalupe Valley." University of California Publications in Geography 2, no. 14 (1928). 409-434. Heavily annotated by Meigs while in the field in 1929.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 5) PHOTOGRAPHS. Arranged in two subseries: A) Photograph Albums and B) Lantern Slides.

The collection originally contained several hundred nitrate negatives. Due to their deteriorating condition, the negatives were scanned and destroyed. All photographic images in this series can be found on the UC San Diego Library Digital Collections website, where they are individually scanned, described and, where possible, linked to the journal entry that describes the day the image was captured.

A) Photograph Albums: Meigs assembled an album of his first field trip to Baja California in 1925, containing original prints and his own captions. Negatives largely do not exist for this album, and some prints are missing. Following the example of the 1925 album, in 2007 the nitrate negatives were scanned and new prints were collated into modern albums along with original prints, using caption titles supplied by information in Meigs's journals. During this process, Meigs's own numbering system for matching prints, negatives, and captions was maintained. In some cases, descriptions in the albums have been supplemented with additional notations found on his negative envelopes. Several gaps remain in the photograph series where negative envelopes were empty or missing. In most cases, the numbers and captions of absent photographs have been noted and designated as "Missing" within each album.

B) Lantern Slides: 63 glass slides used in presentations by Meigs. The slides are largely copies of images originally captured on nitrate negatives; these images have been scanned from the negative and are available on the Library's Digital Collections website.

Photograph Albums

Oversize FB-350 Folder 1

From Tijuana to El Rosario. Includes images of the Santo Tomas valley, Johnson's Ranch at San Antonio del Mar, the San Telmo valley, the Hamilton Ranch in Santo Domingo, the San Quintin flour mill and saltworks, and the town of El Rosario.

Oversize FB-350 Folder 2
Album, 1926

San Fernando Velicata to Santo Tomas. Includes images of the missions of San Fernando Velicata, Nuestra Senora del Rosario, San Vicente Ferrer, Santo Domingo de la Frontera, and Santo Tomas.

Oversize FB-351 Folder 1
Album, 1927

Tijuana to El Marmol. Includes images of Japanese abalone fisherman, the onyx mine at El Marmol, the rancho at Santa Catarina, the San Fernando mine, and the saltworks at San Quintin.

Oversize FB-351 Folder 2
Album, 1928

Valle Trinidad to Tijuana. Includes images of Kiliwa Indians around Arroyo Leon, street scenes in Ensenada, and panoramic views of Tijuana from the hill above the port of entry on the US side.

Oversize FB-351 Folder 3
Album, 1929

Arroyo Leon to Neji. Includes images from the Guadalupe valley, the town of Santa Catarina, and the village of Neji.

Oversize FB-351 Folder 4
Album, 1936

Includes images of Mission San Miguel and Indians at Manteca.

Box 3 Folder 17
Unidentified prints

Lantern Slides

Box 4
Lantern slides, 1925 - 1936


Scope and Content of Series

SeriesES 6) MAPS: Maps created by Meigs, either as copies of existing maps or as field sketches, as well as a "Baja California Sketch Map" containing C.W. Thornthwaite's signature on each leaf. The maps created by Meigs have been identified using the title he attributed to them. Untitled maps have been identified by geographic region or landmarks. The Thornthwaite map appears to be an enlarged and segmented copy of Carl H. Beal's "Reconnaissance geologic map and structure sections of Baja California, Mexico." The twelve leaves of the map are accompanied by reduced-sized photocopies exhibiting numerous annotations by Meigs. Arranged in alphabetical order.

Oversize MC-154-01
Diagrammatic sketch from Cape Colnett to San Felipe Bay

Traced from sketch by J. van der Gracht. Pencil and colored pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Diagrammatic sketch from El Rosario to the Gulf of California at 30 degrees N. Latitude

Traced from sketch by J. van der Gracht. Pencil and colored pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Diagrammatic sketch from Santo Tomás to south of San Quintín

Pencil and colored pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
[Distribution of coastal rock formations from Tijuana to Santa Catarina]

Ink, pencil, and colored pencil on tracing paper.

Box 5 Folder 5
Geological profile, Todos Santos Bay to Gulf, 1926

"Geol. Profile, Todos S. Bay to Gulf. Direction N. 71 Degrees E., Lindgren." Pencil on paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Lluvia annual. Baja California Sur

Unidentified publication.

Oversize MC-154-01
Maps published in The Dominican Mission Frontier Of Lower California , 1935

"General Map emphasizing the Dominican area of Lower California" and "Physical Regions and Explorations."

Box 5 Folder 8
Northwest Mexico. Coastal Sectors

Unidentified publication.

Oversize MC-154-01
[Sketch map of area surrounding Mission Santa Catarina]

Pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Sketch map of San Quintín Bay

Tracing from a blueprint by "C.J. Young (engineer), 1889, for the Compania Mexicana Internacional. Elevations from U.S. Steamship 'Ranger,' 1888. Blueprint loaned by David Goldbaum." Pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Sketch map of the San Telmo River mouth

Pencil on tracing paper.

Oversize MC-154-01
Sketch map of the lands of Mission Santa Catarina

Traced from "Terrenos de la ex-mision de Sta. Catalina. Wm. Denton, Fernando Lantern(?), 1895(?)." Pencil on tracing paper.

Box 5 Folder 13
Sketch maps of El Rosario, 1926

Pencil on paper.

Oversize MC-154-02
Thornthwaite, C.W. Baja California Sketch Map, 1925

Based on the work of Carl H. Beal for the Marland Oil Company. Segmented into 12 quadrangles; quadrangle 10 missing. Includes set of reduced-size photocopies with annotations by Meigs.

Box 5 Folder 15
Vila, Vicente. Puerto de San Diego situado por 32 grados 32 minutos de latitud septent, 1769

Photocopy of a manuscript map in Archivo General de Indias, Seville.


Scope and Content of Series

Series 7) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS: Newspaper clippings, pressed plants, and a postcard from Ensenada.

Box 5 Folder 16
Newspaper clippings, 1925 - 1962
Box 5 Folder 17
Ensenada postcard, 1928
Box 5 Folder 18
Pressed plants, 1926
Box 5 Folder 19
Principal publications by Peveril Meigs, 1974
Box 5 Folder 20
Telegram from William A. Saathoff (foreman) to Eulogio Romero

April 5, 1908.


Box 5 Folder 21
Originals of preservation photocopies