The aims and motivations of a Jesuit historian either perplex or dismay this reviewer, while the thoroughness of documentary search and meticulous accuracy in identification and transcription provoke his admiration. Ernest J. Burrus has undertaken the project of reproducing an abundant selection of maps, published or in manuscript, that can be attributed to a Jesuit member of the Mexican Province. He has further listed all discoverable maps, many of them modern, that relate to Jesuit missionary activities in New Spain, and he has reproduced some of them as well. In addition, the textual material that originally accompanied certain maps is published.

That a map was drawn by a Jesuit or compiled from his account is a sufficient reason for its inclusion in this publication. Some items are the simplest of sketches, and essentially valueless small-scale and crude maps of New Spain and Florida are included. At the same time, there is no effort to relate the Jesuit maps to contemporary cartographic knowledge held by secular Spanish authorities, although the latter may have been far more complete and accurate. These volumes are simply a memorial to Jesuit efforts. Only by accident does the work provide a reasonably thorough treatment of the status of cartographic knowledge of a limited area during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The lands on both sides of the Gulf of California were an area of active missionization and detailed exploration by the Jesuits. Maps of the region made by Kino, Consag, and Nentwig were based in large measure on their own explorations and observations and served in turn as the best available information for more than a century. Of some historic interest is Map 10, a manuscript by Kino which Father Burrus dates at 1696-1697. It shows the Gila River, called Río Grande del Coral, entering directly into the Gulf of California which extends on to the northwest; the Colorado River is not shown. Map 11, also by Kino and published in 1705, shows the results of Kino’s exploration of the mouth of the Colorado River (1698-1701), and California has definitely become a peninsula.

Two sorts of information that have value to a modern student appear in a number of the map reproductions. One is the naming of Indian tribes directly on the map. Many of these tribes became extinct or were displaced shortly thereafter, and the missionaries’ maps may be our only documentary evidence of their existence at specific times and places. Further, maps of Sonora and the Pimería Alta by Kino, Nentwig, and Gilg show a large number of named Indian villages as well as mission settlements with sufficient accuracy that they may serve to identify archeological sites.

History as a memorial to a small group of individuals, chosen because of the organization to which they belonged and with little regard to the significance of their activities, is hard to justify. Those of us interested in northwest Mexico, however, will admit some debt to Father Burrus for identifying and dating a substantial set of old maps of the area and making them readily accessible to us in quite satisfactory reproductions.