The Rowland collection consists of a set of almost ten thousand research cards on the history of Santa Cruz County, scrapbooks of newspaper articles, and boxes of published and unpublished research material. This collection was a gift in 1977 to the University Library as a bequest of Jeannette Wheatley Rowland. There is ample evidence that Jeannette maintained the files in good working order after Leon’s death, and used them for her own writing. As a member of the Santa Cruz Historical Society, Jeannette’s contributions appeared occasionally in its News and Notes.
Rowland’s research covered the early exploration of California by Spain from Mexico in the Sixteenth Century, and by explorers sailing the Pacific Coast, notably Sebastián Vizcaíno who discovered Monterey Bay in 1602. Rowland documented the establishment of the Villa de Branciforte (now part of Santa Cruz), and the California Missions, the Santa Cruz Mission in particular. Because of the relationship among the Missions and because the civil government was located at Monterey, Rowland’s research also touched on San Jose, Santa Clara, San Juan Bautista, Salinas, and Monterey.
Rowland taught himself Spanish, and copied documents from the archives of many institutions and translated them into English. Whenever appropriate, his index cards contain text in both Spanish and English.
Leon Rowland’s avocation was research on the history of California, especially that of the Villa de Branciforte and the County of Santa Cruz. By profession, he was a newspaper columnist, an editor, and a newspaper publisher.
Leon Rowland’s writing was published principally in the Santa Cruz Evening News, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News (when the Santa Cruz Sentinel absorbed the Evening News in January 1942), and finally in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Rowland also was an editor for the Soquel Weekly Journal (1938) and the San Lorenzo Valley Journal (1939).
A sampling of Rowland’s interests may be gleaned from selected titles of his columns on topics that appeared in the Evening News and the Santa Cruz Sentinel between February 16, 1931 through November 30, 1952):
“Boys were Boys in 1845”
First Spanish Families of Santa Cruz
Fixing Santa Cruz Land Titles
Gold in Santa Cruz
Historical Sketch of Joseph Majors
Mission Hill School Site
Mission Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz in 1843
Santa Cruz Railroads
Santa Cruz Vigilantes
The Robles Boys
Villa de Branciforte
When Pacific Avenue Was Willow Street
Central to the collection is the set of index cards on which Rowland cataloged the results of his research. The cards are arranged alphabetically by surname or by topic in a set of ten boxes.
The boxes contain 9,327 cards transcribed into individual records in a database; however, many are fan-folded producing, in some cases, from two to as many as twenty-nine records for a total number of 12,112 records. For detailed information on the card files, see About the Rowland Cards
The full text of all ten boxes of cards in the Rowland card collection were transcribed and indexed between 2004 and 2012 by Joan Gilbert Martin and Stanley D. Stevens. The transcriptions are stored in a searchable FileMaker database; see About the Card Database
The index to the database is in pdf format; see Index to Cards
To search the cards, go to Search the Card Database