Browse Primary Sources
Locate primary sources, including images, objects, media, and texts. Annotations by scholars contextualize sources.

Misión San Fernando Rey de España

Throughout the seventeenth century and eighteenth centuries, the Spanish Crown approved the establishment of dozens of churches throughout the region that today comprises the US-Mexico border. During the period, this territory was the frontier zone for Spain, at the northern edge of its American colonies.

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Misión San Rafael Arcángel

Located near San Francisco, California, this mission originally functioned as a hospital. It was a secondary site for a larger mission closer to San Francisco. It was founded later than many of the colonial churches throughout the US Southwest, in 1817. These churches were built as part of the Spanish Crown’s efforts to evangelize the native peoples of the Americas.

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Misión San Gabriel Arcángel

Founded in 1771, the San Gabriel Arcángel Mission joined a large network of Spanish colonial churches throughout the territory that today comprises the Southwest United States. The Crown had granted the church permission to not only establish sanctuaries, but also to supervise local settlements in the hopes of converting the local peoples to Catholicisim.

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Old Mission San Buenaventura

Known as the ‘Mission by the Sea,’ this church once belonged to Spain’s extensive network of missions throughout the modern-day US Southwest. It was founded in 1782 by Francsican friars whose objective was the evangelization of the native peoples in the region, who were the Chumash. The church complex, which included aqueducts, was built with their labor.

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San José de Guadalupe

This church was founded in the late-eighteenth century by Francsisan friars in modern-day Fremont, California. Their goal was to establish a settlement to evangelize the native peoples and coerce them into adopting Spanish ways of living, worshiping, and working.

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Misión San Cayetano de Tumacácori

This church was founded during the late-seventeenth century, when the Spanish Crown claimed this region as the northern border of its empire in North America. Throughout this period, the monarchs of Spain allowed missionaries to establish settlements in the modern-day US Southwest in order to evangelize the native peoples.

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Mission San Xavier del Bac

Located in southern-Arizona, this mission was originally founded by Spanish friars in the late-seventeenth century. The church that stands today was built with indigenos labor in the following century. During the colonial period, the Crown authorized the establishment of many similar church complexes throughout the modern-day borderlands of the United States and Mexico.

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San Ysidro and San Buenaventura de Humanas (Gran Quivira)

This church complex was established by Spanish Franciscan friars in modern-day New Mexico in the early seventeenth century. The Crown authorized the creation of several missions throughout this region with the objective of converting the native peoples to Catholicism. The target for these efforts at this mission were the Salinas Pueblos.

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Nuestra Señora de Purísima Concepción de Quarai

This church complex was built in the early-seventeenth century as part of Spanish friars’ efforts to evangelize the native peoples. Yet within 50 years, the settlement stood abandoned as a result of natural disasters and sustained military attack from rival indigenous groups. Only ruins of its stone structure remain, located near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Misión San Francisco de Asís

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Spanish Crown authorized the founding of dozens of missions in the modern-day borderlands region of the United States. During this period, these territories were the frontier of Spain’s empire in North America, close to regions claimed by British, French, and indigenous groups.

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