Browse Primary Sources

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

Old Mission San Juan Bautista

This historic church once belonged to Spain’s extensive network of religious institutions along the US-Mexico border. The Mission San Juan Bautista was founded in 1797, making it the fifteenth church established in modern-day California. The name of the church originates in its founding day, which was dedicated to the feast day for Saint John the Baptist.

Misión San Juan Capistrano (California)

Throughout the eighteenth century, Spanish friars established more than twenty Spanish colonial churches across the territory that comprises the modern-day state of California. This one, named the Mission San Juan Capistrano, was founded in 1776. These institutions aimed to convert the local peoples (the Acjachemen) to Christianity and teach them Spanish ways of living and working.

Misión Basilica San Diego de Alcalá

Throughout the eighteenth century, the Spanish Crown authorized the establishment of more than twenty churches across the area that comprises the state of California today. These institutions, along with the dozens of other churches already founded throughout the US-Southwest region, aimed to evangelize the native peoples. This complex targeted the nearby Kumeyaay peoples.

Misión La Purísima Concepción De María Santísima

The Purísima Concepción Mission was founded in 1787 as part of a larger network of Spanish colonial churches throughout the region. By this time, ten other missions had been established in modern-day California, in addition to the dozens of others across the territory that today comprises the US-Mexico border.

Misión Nuestro Señora de la Soledad

Established in 1791, the Mission of Nuestro Señora de la Soledad was a Spanish colonial church in the frontier region of Spain’s empire in North America. By the time of its founding, twelve other similar institutions already existed throughout modern-day California, in addition to the dozens of churches across the US Southwest.

Misión San Antonio de Padua

The Mission of San Antonio de Padua was the third church established by Spanish friars in the territory that today comprises the state of California. Founded in 1771, this complex aimed to house the church authorities and evangelize the local native communities. Indigenous labor built the sanctuary and its supporting buildings, such as workshops and a granary.

Misión San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Spanish Crown granted its missionaries permission to establish dozens of missions throughout the modern-day US Southwest. During this period, this region was the borderlands between Spain’s territory and those claimed by the British, French, and indigenous groups.

Misión San Francisco de Solano

Located in Southern California, the Mission San Francisco de Solano once operated as a Spanish colonial church. It was founded in 1823 and originally featured living quarters in addition to the sanctuary. Missions like this one were established to evangelize the native communities in the area. The Spanish monarchs approved the creation of dozens of missions throughout the borderlands region.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Misión San Gregorio de Abó

The San Gregorio de Abó Mission once operated as a site of Spain’s evangelization efforts in the Americas. As the Spanish crown expanded its empire throughout North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, it encountered a major obstacle: a shortage of bureaucrats to run all of the governments it was establishing.

Misión San José de los Jémez

The San José de los Jémez Mission is located near Albuquerque, New Mexico. It once belonged to a larger group of Spanish colonial churches along what is now the Us-Mexico borderlands. It was originally built in the early-seventeenth century to evangelize the native peoples, including the Jemez. Today, stone ruins remain.