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TRANSLATORS' PREFACE

After almost two decades (1751–1768) spent in missionary labors among the Indians of Baja California, the Jesuit father, Johann Jakob Baegert, returned to Europe. He occupied his leisure in the last four years of his life in writing a realistic and firsthand account of the California he knew. His Nachrichten von der Amerikanischen Halbinsel Californien was first published at Mannheim, Germany, in 1771, and Father Baegert lived just long enough to make some corrections and additions for the second edition of his famous book in 1772.

The present work is the first complete English translation of the original German text. We have tried to adhere to the original as closely as possible, but many of the expressions and idioms common to eighteenth-century German are no longer in use and we have given, as best we can, English approximations. This difficulty, together with Father Baegert's stylistic peculiarities, we have been at pains to overcome in our attempt to present a good, readable English text. In following the German original we have studiously translated Father Baegert's often very frank personal observations as well as his attacks on the Protestant clergy; these last, of course, based on long-forgotten controversies of little interest to the twentieth-century reader of the Nachrichten .

We wish to thank those who have generously given us their time and assistance: the late Charles Yale of Pasadena, who first suggested the translation and later aided with advice; Dr. Henry R. Wagner of San Marino; Dr. Peter M. Dunne, S.J., of the University of San Francisco; Presbítero Don José Trinidad Laris of Guadalajara, Mexico; and Père L. Münch, S.J., of Colmar, France, for assisting us in editing the book; and Messrs. Herbert Burke of Palo Alto, California, and Ray Jahn of New York City, who gave valuable help on the manuscript. We are also indebted to the courteous and helpful staff of the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino; and to Claremont College, Claremont, California, for financial aid given us for the typing of the manuscript.

M. M. B. AND C. L. B.


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