Documents relating to colonial Mexico and Peru
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In 1928 and 1929 Edward Stephen Harkness (1874-1940), American
philanthropist, presented to the Library of Congress an important
collection of documents from the first 200 years of Spanish rule
in Mexico and Peru. The Mexican manuscripts (2,939 folios) fall
into four categories. The majority were owned for many years by
the descendants of the conquistador Hernando Cortés and
pertain to the purported Cortés-Avila conspiracy to overthrow
the government of New Spain (1566) and to the affairs of Cortés
and his family between 1525 and 1565. The other Mexican material
consists of denunciations and judicial proceedings conducted by
the Inquisition during the third quarter of the sixteenth century
and miscellaneous manuscripts ranging in date from 1557 to 1609.
The Mexican items are described in a published guide and have been
reproduced on microfilm.
The Peruvian manuscripts (1,405 folios) are more varied in character.
The greater part of the collection is composed of notarial instruments
(1531-1618), original documents which were retained by notaries
after copies had been sent to Spain. Other manuscripts include
royal minutes and acts of the town councils of Chachapoyas (1538-45)
and San Juan de la Frontera de Guamanga (1539-47). Forty-eight
documents relating to Francisco Pizarro and his kinsmen and Diego
de Almagro and his son, key figures in the Spanish conquest of
Peru, have been published with full Spanish texts, translations,
and notes. The Peruvian manuscripts are described in a published
register and have been reproduced for reference use as enlargement
prints. Auxiliary finding aids are available in the Manuscript Division.
Two sixteenth-century manuscript maps donated by Mr. Harkness
have been added to the Vellum Chart Collection in the Geography and Map Division.