“Global History and the California Missions: A Sea Story” with author Janet Dowling Sands

COST: [Free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public.]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) presents “Global History and the California Missions: A Sea Story with author, artist, educator, and native Californian Janet Dowling Sands on Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 7:00.  This beautifully illustrated presentation will explain how the missions were inextricably linked to global maritime history and prehistory, including the latest research  on the origins of  California’s indigenous people, whose ancestors came to the Americas thousands of years before the first European soldiers and missionaries arrived. Cost is free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public. There will also be a pre-lecture reception for members only from 6:15-6:45pm. Register at: and become a member at

Ms. Sands will discuss the far-reaching geopolitical context of the California missions and presidios to explain why they are here, including some “surprises and sidebars,” and the fascinating connection of an Enlightenment-era Spanish viceroy who, after launching the mission project in 1769, turned his attention to the success (or failure) of the American Revolution. Ms. Sands will also raise some important questions about how we should regard and study the mission era today, when colonialism itself can be a highly controversial topic.

She will conclude with an illustrated 10-minute “road trip” to see the missions and surviving asistencias. Her skills as a writer, photographer and watercolorist have been applied to recording her travel experiences in illustrated journals and in her book, On A Mission: The Real Story of the California Missions.  Signed copies will be available at the Museum Gift Shop.  In his review, which appears on the back cover of the book, Dr. Karl Hutterer, Director Emeritus of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, said “I absolutely loved it! The approach is unique: a tour with information on dining and lodging, combined with how mission history is linked to world history.”

About the Speaker

Janet Sands, author of On a Mission: The Real Story of the California Missions, has developed a unique perspective on history—shaped by extensive research and by many years of engagement with educators, scientists and historians.  She is a California native with a degree in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley.  As a long-time active board member of both the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, Sands has spent many years working to improve science and nature education for children in Santa Barbara and to support scientific outreach for the public. She is a lifelong student of history, art, and the natural world, and a collector of American regional art. She is currently working to complete her next book, Collision of Cultures: A Traveler’s History of the American Southwest.

Janet and her husband Ed, an architect and ship model builder, split their time between Arizona and New York to be near their children and grandchildren.

This event is generously sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe.

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