The Hispanic World, 1492-1898


Library of Congress

Rare Book and Special Collections Division
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Building, LJ 239
Washington, DC 20540

Telephone: (202) 707-5434

Hours of Service: Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-5:00pm

Division Chief: Mark G. Dimunation

Access Policies: Open to qualified researchers. Reference conference required. Correspondence and telephone inquiries accepted.

Inquiries: Rosemary Fry Plakas, American History Specialist.

Collection: Photographs, photocopies, prints and drawings relating to Christopher Columbus, photographic views of Costa Rica and the West Indies purchased from William E. Curtis of Washington, DC in 1905. Catalogued as: William Eleroy Curtis, compiler. [Columbus and the discovery of America]. Call number: E120.C96.

Mr. Curtis (1850-1911) was a newspaperman and Director of the Bureau of American Republics and Chief of the Latin American Bureau at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893. In this exposition there was a reconstruction of the Monasterio de la Rábida with a detailed iconography of Columbus and facsimile of documents related to his voyages and life. The collection includes 1897 items, mainly photoprints, in 24 albums and 2 portfolios. Although the collection is catalogued as consisting of 25 volumes, one is apparently missing.

According to an internal finding aid prepared by Dr. Linda Martz the photographs of documents contained in Mr. Curtis' collection do not show provenance. Of the 24 volumes available, only volumes 11, 15 and 16 appear to have some identifiable archival reproductions from Spain: Volumes 11, 15 and 16 of the Curtis Collection are reproductions of original documents loaned by the Duke of Veragua to the World's Columbus Exposition at Chicago in 1892. The Spanish government bought the Veragua papers in 1929. See Exposición Iberoamericana. Guía de la Exposición histórica y cartográfica del descubrimiento y colonización de América (Sevilla: 1929), 74 p., and Antonia Heredia Herrera, "Bibliografía del Archivo de Indias: Pasado, presente y futuro." Archivo Hispalense 207-208 (enero-agosto 1985), 41-92.

Archivo General de Indias


Total number of prints: Unknown.

I. Patronato

Legajo: 295

Contents: For the contents of the former Archivo del Duque de Veragua Papers, now AGI, Patronato, legajo 295, the reader should consult or purchase directly from the Centro Nacional de Microfilm the two reels of the "Inventario" (1480-1790). See Archivo General de Indias. Inventarios. Sección de Patronato. (Publicación n 2.) Madrid: Dirección General de Archivos y Bibliotecas, 1971. p. 7.

Most of the photographs in the Curtis Collection are large in size; they are mounted in photograph albums which are disintegrating. The reader should note that these photographs were made a century ago and should be compared to the original documents, now in the AGI. Perhaps this comparison could show if the original documents have lost clarity or have further deteriorated. It should be added that the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress also has reproductions of the Veragua Papers; see its entry above.

Suggested Bibliography

Curtis, William E[leroy]. Christopher Columbus, His Portraits and His Moments: A Descriptive Catalog. Chicago: W. H. Lowdermilk, 1893.

________. The Relics of Columbus: An Illustrated Description of the Historical Collection in the Monastery of La Rábida. Washington, DC: The William H. Lowdermilk Co., 1893. 216 p.

________. "The Existing Autographs of Christopher Columbus." Annual Report of the American Historical Association (1894), 445-518.

________. The Authentic Letters of Columbus. Chicago: 1895.

Duque de Veragua. "El Archivo de la Casa Ducal de Veragua." Hidalguía 6 (1958), 413-424.

Exposición Iberoamericana. Guía de la Exposición histórica y cartográfica del descubrimiento y colonización de América. Sevilla: 1929. 74 p.

Heredia Herrera, Antonia. "Bibliografía del Archivo de Indias: Pasado, presente y futuro." Archivo Hispalense 207-208 (enero-agosto 1985), 41-92.

Vanderbilt, Paul, comp. Guide to the Special Collections of Prints and Photographs in the Library of Congress. Washington, DC: The Library of Congress, Reference Department, 1955.

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