Arrangement and Translation to Date

  • 1930s: Approximately 166 documents were translated under the Works Progress Administration. Two translators, Ernest Pinores and Landon Fellom, were based at City Hall during the work. Mr. Pinores, a native of Greece, had been employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company; Mr. Fellom was the grandson of early pioneer Mathew Fellom and employed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. An article in the Mercury Herald in 1938 features Pinores with a pueblo map from 1840 that he found during his translation work, believed to be a war defense map to protect San Jose against foreign invaders.
  • 1959: The six volumes were sent to the Bancroft Library for microfilming, at which point certain pages were found missing. The City Librarian at the time could not say where they might have gone, but History San Jose does have a list for reference. We believe the original binding may have been removed at this point to facilitate microfilming.
  • 1966: At the request of the City of San Jose, a 406-page typewritten index with English language summaries was prepared by Mr. Paul Nathan of Albany, California, using photostats of the originals. The index and copies were then returned to the City Clerk’s office. Nathan’s entries are in chronological order, and include the original volume and page number, which would have made it easy to match up to the documents’ arrangement at the time. Nathan also included an explanation of which volumes were on which reels of microfilm.
    • Example: 1792: Oct. 15; v. 3, p. 332. A proclamation imposing payment of 3% taxes in Alta California. Addressed to all presidio commanders. Signed José Joaquín de Arrillaga, San Diego.
  • 1995-2005: While Nathan’s index put the pages in virtual order, the physical documents were still in their original, apparently random order. Volunteers Jose Pantoja and Patsy Castro Ludwig, from the Hispanic Genealogy Society of Santa Clara County, arranged the original papers into complete documents, in chronological order, and cross-indexed the microfilm and the handwritten originals. In the process, they also created a database table, using the English summaries from Nathan’s 1966 index, adding separate fields for date, addressee, and signature, as well as any numbering found on the documents, and whether we have the original vs. only microfilm. During this work they made notations in a copy of Nathan’s index when they found errors, or documents that were not included in the index. As a result of this process, the documents were grouped into folders by year and quarter, and rehoused into acid-free folders and manuscript boxes.
  • 1998: Four Santa Clara University students translated a series of documents from 1809, as part of an interdisciplinary course entitled “Translation of Historical Documents,” with the assistance of Professors Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz. The Spanish transcriptions and English translations were published as part of the Research Manuscript Series on the Cultural and Natural History of Santa Clara, titled “A Year in the Life of a Spanish Colonial Pueblo.” In 2017, we created an online exhibit through Google Arts & Culture based on this publication.
  • 2002: Mr. Pantoja and Ms. Castro used the documents to create a list of all 53 alcaldes representing the Spanish and Mexican period, as part of San José’s 2002 competition “Find the lost Mayors of San José.”
  • 2004: A selection of eight documents were put online, part of the Silicon Valley History Online project, currently available through Calisphere.
  • 2004-2005: Mr. Pantoja worked for six months in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, Spain, where he identified and purchased copies of over 1200 documents. These papers document the original discussions about founding a pueblo to help serve the Alta California Presidios, and fill in a gap of missing documents that represent the next half century.
  • 2014-present: Volunteers at History San Jose scanned the original documents and assigned them with unique IDs, matching up the physical documents to the electronic index. Any existing transcriptions and translations have also been digitized.

Work in Progress

  • Scanning English-language documents (1842-1870), which were stored separately from Spanish-language documents (there are 1.5 linear feet of documents; we are about 1/3 of the way through scanning)
  • Adding English-language document metadata to the spreadsheet/index
  • Renaming scanned translations/transcriptions to reflect date and volume/page information
  • Matching translations to original documents