Web de Anza
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Web de Anza
The Center for Advanced Technology in Education at the University of Oregon
Reviewed Jan. 2008

The first thing one might notice about Web de Anza, or Anza’s Web site, is the use of the possessive article de in the site name, implying the individual’s name is Anza. It is not the Web de De Anza. Since the de in Juan Bautista de Anza is not part of the name, a Spanish peculiarity that has frequently led English speakers to refer to him as “De Anza,” the use of his correct name immediately inspires confidence in the site. And visitors are never let down. For those who miss the subtlety, the “Site Index” has, under “Collateral Readings,” an article on the subject of Anza’s name.

Web de Anza provides information that manages to serve the needs of history teachers and students at an introductory level, and, because it provides English versions and transcriptions of primary materials, it is also useful to researchers and scholars at any level. It therefore serves both as a teaching resource and as a bilingual archive on Anza, who undertook “two overland expeditions from the Sonoran desert to northern California, leading to the colonization of San Francisco in 1776.” The site is well organized, beautifully illustrated, and very user friendly. From the opening page, visitors who know something about the subject can proceed in five directions: to the “Archives,” "Resources,“ "Introduction,” "Site Index,“ or ”Teachers' Center.“ But recognizing that the general public knows little about Anza or his role in American history, the same page also has two other links, ”Historical Background“ and ”Map of Route,“ that can quickly bring neophytes to the geographical and chronological coordinates of the subject. These concise but important pages can also be reached from other places on the site. For example, the ”Introduction“ tab on the right side of the home page has, as the first of its five subsections, a link to the ”Historical Background“ essay. The rest of the ”Introduction“ tab covers legal and administrative matters, a ”Help“ section, and an excellent bibliography. An overview of the whole is found in the ”Site Index,“ and then more detailed information is located under the two menus labeled ”Archives“ and ”Resources." The latter two pages effectively separate primary source documents from a number of well-chosen resources, including historical and modern maps; illustrations of places, people, and objects; short narrative overviews; a chronology of the colonizing expedition; an identification of participants; and a short biography of Anza.

The collection of primary documents in the “Archives” is useful for any researcher and is the centerpiece of the Web de Anza. For those who work with the facsimile of the handwritten journals, the time-consuming task of making a Spanish word-by-word transcription to facilitate rereading and cross-referencing has already been done for seven diaries. For those who work in English or require the occasional language check, the journals are also available in English in the same day-to-day sequence as the originals. In addition, the editors have used a page-per-day format and provided a calendar index that, by clicking on any given day, will call up the corresponding page in either language. Together with the search tool available for some of the diaries, the quality of the transcriptions and translations, and the user-friendly organization, the site’s archives are a researcher’s dream.

There are only two minor problems worth noting. Some of the journals include numbered footnotes but the content of the notes is not provided. And part of the diary text is displayed over a decorative, and in some cases, dark colored band on the right side of the page, making reading difficult.

Pedro Font’s map of Anza’s California Expeditions (1776)

The number and variety of items included under “Resources” are impressive. Since the California expeditions are central to Anza’s history, the route followed is of particular interest, and the “Atlas” consists of historical and modern maps. The former includes one drawn by Father Pedro Font, the diarist of the colonizing expedition, and one by Father Francisco Garcés (presently unavailable). The latter includes one of the entire Anza Trail as well as a larger scale version in six sectional maps. In another collection, the trail corridor is shown against the present road network in nineteen county maps. The correlation of history with geography appeals to all with an interest in the Anza expeditions.

The rest of the “Resources” consist of an excellent collection of period illustrations, the short but important summaries already mentioned (including a chronology, campsites of the colonizing expedition, and a who’s who), and related readings. Grouped under “Gallery,” "Overviews,“ and ”Collateral Materials,“ the three subsections will appeal particularly to those being introduced to Anza for the first time and to those responsible for teaching an introduction. Together with the ”Teachers' Center," these sections of the site are a prime resource for bringing this practically unknown chapter of American history to the attention of the next generation of Americans.

Web de Anza has achieved the difficult objective of gathering historical, contemporary, narrative, and graphic material, organizing it, and presenting it in a way that awakens interest in those who know nothing about the subject and is also useful to those who have already labored for some time in the vineyard of Juan Bautista de Anza studies.

Vladimir Guerrero
Davis, California