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Latin Americana: Mexican and Central American Collections

About the Collection
Overview of Collections
Collection Guides and Reference
Related Local Collections

About the Latin Americana Collection

The Bancroft Library's Latin Americana Collection grew out of Hubert Howe Bancroft's publishing enterprises related to the "Pacific States," stretching from Panama to Alaska. The early acquisition of the Mexican Collections of José Fernando Ramírez, José María Andrade, and Agustín Fischer, together with Central American collections from Ephraim George Squier, Brasseur de Bourbourg, and Alphonse Pinart, formed a tremendously rich core of manuscript material and rare imprints. Especially extensive and unique are the materials related to Colonial México and the Northern territories. Building on these early strengths, The Bancroft Collection of Latin American manuscripts, imprints, newspapers, broadsides and pamphlets has grown into one of the world's great repositories for historical and contemporary research on México and Central America. As a specialized area collection, the collection contains all forms of primary and secondary sources, including all forms of printed material, microfilm of related records from other repositories, bibliographical and reference sources, and critical editions of major historical texts. The Overview of Collections, arranged chronologically, provides brief descriptions of some of the thematic strengths of the collection. This selective but representative overview is a starting point for research in The Bancroft Library Latin Americana Collection.

Overview of Collections

Native México and Central America
The Bancroft Library holds indigenous manuscript materials related to history, religious instruction, linguistics, and conflicts surrounding Christianization, land, and labor. Among the historical works are Fernando de Alba Ixtlilxochitl's history of New Spain, Ramon de Ordoñez y Aguiar's and Francisco Ximénez's manuscripts on Chiapas and Guatemala, Juan Franco's writings on Panama, and other materials related to Quiche, Mosquito, Mayo, and Yaqui history. There are vocabularies, grammars and catechisms in Nahuatl, Opata, Tzeltal, Quiche, Tzutujil, Cakchikel, Pocoman, Ixil, Zapoteca, Mixtec, Otomí, Pima, Choco, and other indigenous languages. Especially rich are the Nahuatl manuscript materials attributed to Alonso de Molina, Andrés de Olmos, and Faustino Chimalpopoca Galicia, as well as the Alphonse Pinart and Brasseur de Bourbourg linguistic materials. There are also significant collections of legal and religious materials, such as the Legal Documents Concerning Tlaxcala, Indian Complaints over Payment of Tribute in Michoacan, Documents Reflecting Relations of Indians and Spaniards, Documents Relating to the Granting of a Coat of Arms to Don Sacarias de Santiago, and numerous records of the different orders of the Catholic Church.

Note: spelling of indigenous groups and languages varies in catalog records.

See also the Western Americana Collection

Codex Fernández Leal
This nearly twenty-foot long Cuicatec scroll from Oaxaca is a rich source of information on Mesoamerican history and culture. Drawn on native amatl paper, the codex documents origins, religious rites, warfare, and lineages. The Fernández Leal Codex is linked to the Porfirio Díaz Codex in the Museo Naciónal de Antropología y Historia in México City, and both texts were produced in the sixteenth-century but are thought to be based on earlier pre-Colombian predecessors. This rare indigenous pictographic manuscript is complemented by Bancroft's extensive collection of Nahuatl manuscripts and materials produced by and about indigenous societies throughout Central America and Greater México.

Colonial Period
The holdings for Colonial Spanish America, and Central México in particular, constitute the richest portion of the Latin Americana Collection. There are extensive holdings of manuscripts, imprints, broadsides, and pamphlets (sometimes grouped as "Papeles Varios") for this period. Many of the manuscripts and imprints are of an official or religious nature, such as the reales cédulas and ordenes de la corona, the Inquisition documents, genealogical records, various account books, records of local government (e.g. ayuntamientos and cabildos), church and convent records (e.g. birth, marriage, and death registers, visitor logbooks, and library records), and other records of the Franciscan, Jesuit, and Dominican orders (e.g. accounts of missionary work, sermons, manuals, and pastoral letters). The geography and natural history of New Spain are documented in early manuscript maps such as the Derrotero para la Navegación de los Puertos de España a los de América and records from the expeditions of Alessandro Malaspina (1789-1792) and Alexander von Humboldt (1799-1805). Early scholarship is also documented in texts such as Diego Duran's Historia de las Indias de Nueva-Espana y Islas de Tierra Firme (1579-1581), Fernando de Alba Ixtlixochitl's Sumaria Relación de todas las cosas que an Sucedido en la Nueva España, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas's Historia General de los hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas i Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano (1601-1615), Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora's Anotaciones Criticas sobre el Primer Apostol de Nueva España y sobre el Imagen de Guadalupe (ca. 1699), Juan de Palafox y Mendoza's Obras, and Juan Bautista Muñoz's Historia del Nuevo Mundo (1793).

The Bancroft Library's collection of Inquistion documents, the largest in the United States, includes some of the most significant cases brought before the Inquisition, such as the charges brought against Leonor and Isabel de Carvajal for practicing Judaism. These procesos, or trials, include materials such as genealogical and property records as evidence in charges of breaches of orthodoxy and sexual misconduct, including blasphemy, relapsed Judaism, witchcraft, superstition, bigamy, and solicitation.

Guide to the Bancroft Mexican Inquisition Original Documents in the Online Archive of California (OAC)

The Spanish Borderlands and Northern México
The Borderlands are a primary collecting area for The Bancroft Library, which holds manuscripts related to exploration and settlement of the territories from Florida to California. Documents relating to Nueva Vizcaya and the Provincias Internas include records of the Jesuit and Franciscan orders, materials from Pinart Collections from New Mexico, Chihuahua, Sonora, and other Northern Mexican states, and the Archives of California. Among the administrators and missionaries represented are many governors of New Mexico and California, numerous viceroys, and missionaries and explorers such as Nicolas de Cardona, Francisco de Ortega, Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pedro Font, Gaspar de Portola, and Juan Bautista de Anza.

See also the Western Americana Collection

Newspapers and Gazettes
Newspaper holdings include colonial gazettes such as Gaceta de México, Gazeta de México, Gazeta del Gobierno de México, and Gaceta del Gobierno Imperial de México, as well as early newspapers such as El Diario de México, El Conductor Eléctrico, El Pensador Mexicano, Correo Semanario de México, Diario del Imperio, El Republicano, El Federalista, La Voz de la Patria, and others. There are also substantial collections of newspapers from the Revolutionary period, regional newspapers, Central American newspapers and gazettes, and Spanish-language newspapers in the United States.

National Period
The Bancroft Library has numerous official and personal records related to the Wars of Independence, the Mexican American War, travel to California for the Gold Rush, the French Intervention, and filibustering activities. One strength is the French Intervention, represented in the papers of José Marcos Mugarrieta, Plácido Vega, Norberto Ballesteros, Vicente Ortigosa, Jesús González Ortega, the Miramón and the Mexía families. Other materials include documents related to the Maximilian administration, the archives of La Commission Scientifique du Mexique, and newspapers such as the Periódico Oficial del Imperio Mexicano and Diario del Imperio Mexicano, as well as exile presses such as La Voz de Méjico in San Francisco. The library holds a complete run of the Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, beginning in 1839, as well as surveys and maps produced by the Comisión Geográfico-Exploradora and Ferrocarriles Naciónales de México. There are extensive holdings of pamphlets (sometimes grouped as "Papeles Varios"), broadsides, and imprints, as well as small collections such as the Bangs-Uro y Lozano Collection on early printing. As with the Colonial period, the library holds materials from key scholars of the National period, including José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, Carlos María de Bustamante, Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, José Luis Mora, Lorenzo de Zavala, Lucas Alamán, José Gómez de la Cortina, and others. There are numerous personal and business records of U.S. citizens in México, particularly relating to travel to California and mining companies in Northern México.

See also the Western Americana Collection

Revolutionary Period
The Bancroft Library has letters, pamphlets, and books from key figures in the Mexican Revolution, including Porfirio Díaz, Francisco Madero, Ricardo Flores Magón, Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and Venustiano Carranza. The Silvestre Terrazas Collection consists of more than one-hundred boxes of letters, documents, and photos related to his career as a newspaper editor in Chihuahua, while the smaller Wells, Fargo, and Company Records document views of U.S. businessmen during the Revolution. Alternate mediums include the Collection of Corridos from the Mexican Revolution and the James Wallace Wilkie collection of oral histories with political leaders of the Revolutionary Period. There are also extensive photographic collections in this area, including Francisco Mújica's, John Murray's and the Godefroy family's photographs of the Mexican Revolution and Charles O'Connor's photos and papers related to Red Cross activities with refugees along the border. As with the National period, there are records of U.S. business interests in México, such as engineer Emil Bronimann's maps and blueprints, the Byron R. Janes papers, Irving and Luella Winship Herr's correspondence, the B. A. Ogden papers, and the Bours, Tomas Robinson & Co. business papers.

See also the Western Americana Collection

Central America
Central American holdings from the early Colonial period include records of Dominican, Franciscan, and Jesuit activity in the region as well as materials by figures such as Pedro de Alvarado, Alonso Díaz de Reguera, Andrés de Cereceda, Juan Gavarrete Escobar, García de Valverde, Clemente Arauz, Francisco Morazán, and Rafael Carrera. Central American collections include those of Brasseur de Bourbourg, Alphonse Pinart, Ephraim George Squier, John Lloyd Stephens, and Alfred Keane Moe. Also significant are Bancroft's Reference Notes on Central America and numerous papers and memoirs of U.S. travelers, merchants, and filibusterers. More recent records include Interviews concerning Guatemalan History and Politics (1930-1968), the Nicaragua Information Center Records (1980-1991), and the Data Center Records (1950s-1990s).

Photography and Graphic Arts
The Bancroft Library pictorial works on México and Central American include sketchbooks, lithographs, photographs, stereographs, postcards, and posters. Among the early lithographs and drawings are Claudio Linati's Costumes Civils, Militaires et Religieux du Mexique, Frederick Catherwood's Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Casimiro Castro's México y sus Alrededores, and Andrew Jackson Grayson's Birds of the Pacific Slope. Photographic collections include Desiré Charnay's Cites et Ruines Americaines, a military album from the French occupation entitled Souvenirs du Mexique de 1861 a 1867, Abel Briquet's Vistas Mexicanas, photographs of Yaqui Indians, albums from México and Central America, and various collections from The Revolutionary Period. The Bancroft Library also has a substantial collection of Latin American poster art, including collections from influential printers such as José Guadalupe Posada and the Taller de Gráfica Popular as well as smaller groups of posters from México, Nicaragua, Cuba, and other parts of Latin America. More recent collections include some 1,000 posters relating to Central American politics in the 1970s and 1980s from the Data Center Records and the Juan Pascoe Collection of books and ephemera printed at Taller Martín Pescador in Michoacán.

Faculty Research Materials
The Bancroft Library holds the papers and research materials of a number of influential Latin Americanists, including Herbert Eugene Bolton's and George Peter Hammond's research materials on borderlands history, Woodrow Wilson Borah's and Sherburne Friend Cook's research materials on historical demography, Carl Ortwin Sauer's papers and research notebooks on historical geography, Lesley Byrd Simpson's papers on colonial México, Engel Sluiter's documents related to economic and political history in Latin America, Henry R. Wagner's research on borderlands history and Bartolomé de las Casas, Frans Ferdinand Blom's papers on archaeological research in México and Guatemala, Ynés Mexía's papers on botanical research in México and South America, Pamela Israel's research materials on indigenous linguistics, and Katherine Jenkins research materials on Mexican arts and crafts.

Archival Manuscript Collections on Microfilm
Built around The Bancroft Library's manuscript collection, the microfilm collection of manuscripts from foreign archives is one of the largest in the country, capturing documents from archives in México, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Documents microfilmed are largely related to Western North America and the Pacific coast. México's Archivo General de la Nación and Spain's Archivo General de Indias are especially well represented. A preliminary guide is available in the Bancroft Library Reading Room.
Guide to Archival Manuscripts on Microfilm

Guide to the Bancroft Latin Americana Collections in the Online Archive of California (OAC)

Collection Guides and Reference

Hammond, George P. ed. A Guide to Manuscript Collections of the Bancroft Library: Manuscripts Relating Chiefly to México and Central America.
Z6621 B2 B2 v. 2 Reference

Latin American Collections of The Bancroft Library: Guides and Catalogues

Latin Americana Reference in the Bancroft Library Reading Room

Mexican and Borderlands History: Catalogs, Guides, and Directories for Archival and Manuscript Sources

Latin American Studies: Guides, Library Catalogs, Indexes, and Bibliographies

Related Local Collections

Latin American and Iberian Collections at Stanford Libraries

Mexicana Collections at the Sutro Library


For reference questions relating to The Bancroft Library Latin Americana Collection contact Bancroft Reference. More in-depth queries will be referred to the proper curator.


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