Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fondo Colonial of the Parral Archive online

Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua – The Archivo Históricos Municipal de Hidalgo del Parral (Parral Archive) announced today that its collection of Spanish colonial documents, known as the “Fondo Colonial,” is now accessible for free online to the public at: hh-p.org, then Fondo Colonial.

The Fondo Colonial collection, spanning a period between 1611 and 1821, contains the civil colonial records of the Province of Nueva Viscaya, which today consists of the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Sonora, Sinaloa and part of Coahuila as.  Hidalgo del Parral was the unofficial capital for Nueva Viscaya for over 100 years, from the 1632s to the 1738s, and has the largest collection of Spanish colonial documents in northern Mexico. 

The Parral Archive staff reorganized the Fondo Colonial documents following the UNESCO guidelines, which is by subject than by chronological order and created a new catalog.  They identified the content of the majority of the documents and assigned each document a number that will allow a researcher to easily locate and cite to the digital image.  Presently, all of the sections of the collection have been imaged and are now online, with the exception of the Justicia section.  The Justicia section, which comprises two-thirds of the collection, will be imaged by the end of this month and gradually added to the online collection.

The Fondo Colonial is one of the most important archive collections in North America.  It contains records pertaining to the history of the people of Spain, Mexico and the southwestern United States, and the many indigenous nations of the region.  The documents provide significant insight into the political, economic, social and cultural environments of a vast region, from Durango to Nuevo Mexico, and from Coahuila to Sonora.

The documents in the Gobierno y Administración section reflect the inner workings of the Spanish colonial system, and include a wide-range of documents on the governance of several communities of the north of Nueva España.  The Gobierno y Administración section includes documents on mines and the granting of mines, petitions and disputes, labor and slavery, censuses and inventories, and the issuance and implementation of royal orders.  The Milicia y Guerra section contains an array of documents pertaining to the military defense of several Nueva Viscaya communities, the respective struggles of the indigenous and non-indigenous in war and peace, and the diverse groups of people who lived and worked in or near the many presidial communities of Nueva Viscaya.  The Hacienda and Tesorería section includes many types of transactional and accounting records that reflect various economic activities and the economic relations between and amongst people. 

The Fondo Colonial reflects a paper and archival culture -- one that valued the making and keeping of correspondence, reports, summaries, indices and the details.  The imaging of this collection captures stories and drama, as well as the beauty of handwriting, creases, spots and stains.  It is truly a precious gift to historians, independent scholars and to the descendants of those represented in the records.

This project is the result of the efforts of many people, including Dr. Cruz Lopez, historian and Parral journalist José G. Rocha and Guillermo Gallardo.  Rocha and Gallardo compiled the first index in the late 1930s.  In 1959, Dr. Charles Di Peso began microfilming the collection and a newer guide was created.  In 1984, after additional documents were found, Hector Arras, the Archivo General de la Nación, the Tinker Foundation of New York, the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Cheryl Martin of the University of Texas El Paso supported the creation of the “Nueva Guía” by Dr. Robert McCaa, Carolyn Roy, and Rosamaría Arroyo Duarte.  It was then that the Hispanic Heritage Project, which was then a part of the Friends of the Escondido Public Library, provided the final financial assistance to complete the Nueva Guía.

In 2007, under the guidance of Instituro Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Blanca Jennyra Figueroa completed the present catalog of the collection.  Now under the leadership of Roberto Baca, the current director of the Parral Archive, and with the support of the Hispanic Heritage Project and RootsPoint, the Fondo Colonial collection is now available online.  We will forever be grateful for the contributions of many dedicated individuals over a long period of time that has made it possible for many of us to enjoy this collection for years to come.

For more information contact:
Archivo Historico Municipal de Hidalgo del Parral

Roberto Baca Ornelas, Director