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I 006 Parral archives on microfilm

Collection Summary    back to top

Title Parral Archives (El Archivo de Hidalgo del Parral)
Dates (Inclusive) 1631-1821 (no records from the years 1734, 1748, and 1751)
Abstract This collection includes the microfilm of more than 360,000 pages of handwritten documents (written in old-style Spanish) from the Municipal Archives of Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, documenting the history of a Spanish frontier colonial silver mining community in the Parral district of northern Mexico.
Unique ID I006
Quantity 324 rolls

Arrangement    back to top
The film reels are numbered according to the year to which they apply. Each reel is preceded by a guide to its contents. The last reel is a collation of all preceding reel guides and contains a Spanish edition of the index as well.

The overall scheme of arrangement of the records is chronological. Within each year of records, the categories of classification (as described in the preface to the printed index) are as follows:

Section 1. Causas administratiyas y de guerra - military reports concerning native activity, official visits, and reports pertaining to such administrative activities as the number and location of royal stores for tax purposes, reports of governors and other officials, and many other matters pertaining to administration on a federal level.

Section 2. Minas solares y terrenos - records of sale of mining property and land actions pertaining to mining properties, ranches, and other properties.

Section 3. Protocolos - the formal protocol written during the course of the years by various city officials, dealing with city and provincial business, public records, wills, and other matters of government.

Section 4. Causas civiles - civil court cases pertaining to suits concerning money and materials, and cultural transactions at the civil court level, including topics such as enforced slavery.

Section 5. Causas criminales - federal criminal court cases, including murder, theft, rape, labor conflicts, etc.

Section 6. Papales Varios - unidentified comments or parts of documents that the organizers of the microfilmed material could not otherwise classify or properly index.

Because the microfilm in this collection was arranged by year, the boxes themselves serve as the guide to their contents - just pull the microfilm roll for the year that interests you.

Scope & Contents    back to top
A reproduction of the municipal archive of Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, beginning with the earliest extant documents, in 1631 and continuing to the close of the Spanish colonial period. The documents are organized by year, each year being subdivided into subject categories relative to civil and military affairs, land and mineral entitlements, judicial proceedings and miscellaneous matters. Documents the history of a Spanish colonial silver mining community. Also provides primary source material for Indian uprisings, slavery, public entertainment, official residences, crime and punishment.

The colonial section of the archive contains a large portion of the 17th and early 18th Century documents of the missing archive of Nueva Viscaya (the old Sonora - American South West territories). Subjects include military reports, administrative activities, mining operations, protocol, civil and criminal court cases etc. All in Spanish.

A good starting place for using this microfilm is the 484 page printed index (this one is in Spanish) that was underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. George W. Chambers of Tucson, Arizona. This two volume index is located in the Center's manuscript collection M 129. An index in English prepared by Charles C. Di Peso, et al., also exists - but the Center of Southwest Studies does not have that volume.(Dr. Di Peso was one of three scholars from Arizona who made numerous working trips to Parral during 1959 and 1960 to work on the arrangement, handwriting-reading and indexing scheme for the microfilm project.) In addition, each microfilm roll begins with a separate index of that roll's contents. These were preliminary indexes, prepared at the time of the filming of that roll The printed index is more accurate and complete than the index at the start of each roll.

Reading old handwritten documents of New Spain can be a challenge. A researcher who is experienced in using the Parral Archives remarked that "The further back in time I went, the more challenging the records were to read." He suggests that "some scribes apparently wrote what they heard phonetically, resulting in syllables instead of words, and with no punctuation, so it often helps to try reading phrases aloud to get the meaning from the sound, then transcribe that into correct Spanish words." He notes that some of the records from Parral "contain civil records, which would include wills, estate resolutions, property claims and transfers, court proceedings, criminal cases, etc. I was often led to those by references made by other researchers, including the extremely helpful Documentary Relations of the Southwest (DRSW) of the University of Arizona. The DRSW has an online search capability for general or biographical information from a large index of documents pertaining to the Southwest."

References for help in researching old Spanish documents:

Barnes, Thomas C., Thomas H. Naylor, and Charles Polzer. Northern New Spain: A Research Guide. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1981.

Carlin, Roberta A., A Paleographic Guide to Spanish Abbreviations 1500-1700: Una Guia Paleografica de Abbreviaturas Espanolas 1500-1700, Universal Publishers, 2003.

Restrictions    back to top

Access. There are no access restrictions on the use of these materials for research purposes. This collection is open to the public for use in the Delaney Southwest Research Library at the Center of Southwest Studies.

Use and Copyright. These materials are for use only in the Delaney Southwest Research Library; they are noncirculating. Limited duplication of print materials is allowed for research purposes. The user assumes full responsibility for observing all applicable laws regarding copyright, property rights, and libel.

Preferred Citation    back to top
Parral archive microfilm, Fort Lewis College. Center of Southwest Studies.

Acquisition Info    back to top
The Center of Southwest Studies purchased the microfilm from Bell and Howell/ Micro Photo Inc. (Wooster/Cleveland, Ohio), between 1961 (when that company produced the original microfilm) and April of 1969 (when the Center produced a booklet describing its collections) (accession# x2002:03081).

Related Materials    back to top
This microfilm is also available at the University of Arizona in the Special Collections library and at the University of California at Riverside.

Access Terms    back to top
Silver mines and mining -- Mexico -- Chihuahua (State) -- Sources.
Hidalgo del Parral (Mexico) -- History -- Sources.
Mexico -- History -- Spanish colony, 1540-1810 -- Sources.
Nueva Vizcaya (New Spain) -- History -- Sources.
Archivo de Parral.

Series/Container List    back to top
See printed guide in collection M129.