The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918

The Archivo General ode Indias

I. The Wealth of the Great Archive at Seville
In the words of a Spanish writer, "The history of [Spanish]
America, so far as the documents are concerned, is preserved al-
most completely in Spain. The successive amputations of her
American dominions which the mother country suffered have gone
on increasing the wealth in documents, for, as her rule has come
to an end, she has transported a. great part of their archives.
. . . The most essential parts of these documents are con-
tained in the Archivo [General] de Indias of Seville."
While some may take exception to the above statement, on the
ground that it is too sweeping, it is beyond question that the
great Sevillian archive is practically inexhaustible in its wealth
of materials on almost every conceivable subject in Spanish
colonial administration and is the most valuable single archive
on that field in existence. This is so in increasing measure,
for laws have been passed and are gradually being executed for
the transfer of materials relating to Spain's former colonies from
their present repositories in Simancas and Madrid to the archive
at Seville. It is true that vast quantities of rich materials have
been found in the archives of Spanish American countries,2 and
that they often contain local details of which no account was
sent to Spain, but a single great repository, dealing with all of'
the former colonies, has a decided advantage as against the num-
erous, scattered archives of the Americas. Many colonial ar-
chives have indeed but scant remains of the wealth they once
possessed, as a result of the removal of papers to Spain,3 or due
'Torres Lanzas in El Archivo de Indias, p. XV. For a description of
this work, see infra in section IV.
'See especially Bolton, Herbert E., Guide to materials for the history of
the United States in the principal archives of Mexico. Washington, 1913;
also P~rez, Luis M., Guide to the materials for American history in Cuban
archives. Washington, 1907. See also Chapman, Charles E., South Amer-
ica as a field for an historical survey, in A Californian in South America
(ed. by Dr. Herbert I. Priestley. Berkeley, 1917), pp. 41-50.
'For example, in the case of Cuba.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 10, 2016.