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La Educación
Número: (117) I
Año: 1994

6. Lawrence A. CLAYTON, Editor. The Hispanic Experience in North America. Sources for Study in the United States. Columbus:Ohio State University, 1992, vii, 189 pages, illustrations, maps, tables, bibliography, index. Cloth: $35.00.

This book, the product of a lecture given at the Library of Congress five years ago, will benefit readers with the information provided in it. The editor of the book has patiently and wisely organized the material into five parts: information on public and private Archives in Spain and the U.S.A; research carried out in the Southeast, and on-site and out-of-sight field experiences with materials digitally contained on laser discs or microfilms; projects in different parts of the Southeast, particularly in Louisiana, West Florida and Alabama, but also in non-American nations; technology used to cooperatively design an information system for the Indies’ General Archives; and detailed recommendations and findings.

Perhaps without making an attempt, this text documents the impact of new technologies on the study of the preservation of Hispanic and Indigenous past in the New World that would bring about the onset of the current Republics that constitute it today.  It also identifies, highlights and seeks to resolve the problems arising from the traditional manual processing of documentation which has been collected throughout the centuries and is susceptible to deterioration and loss. The editor, in spite of his being—in my view—a convinced scholar of Hispanic issues, does not refer to the quintcentennial of America’s discovery, but “of the voyage of Christopher Columbus” (1). Nevertheless, he also documents that “[t]he study of Spain in North America began to interest American scholars in the nineteenth century when parts of the former Spanish Empire were incorporated into the present-day boundaries of the United States by either war or treaty. With the new territories — such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — came new people. Indians, Hispanics, blacks, mestizos, mulattoes and others passed into American citizenship” (2).

However, this book also documents the upsurge of Hispanic studies in the U.S.A., a country with an obvious and well-intended effort to bring into its geographic domain and intellectual realm all that documents the Hispanic past of the U.S. In this effort, perhaps the most interesting aspect is the prominence given to the existence — in Spain — of other regional and local valuable collections such as the Archives of the Kingdom of Aragon, the Archives of the Counts of Revillagigedo, the Royal Academy of History Archives, the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Archives, the Army Geographic Service, the Naval Museum, the Royal Palace Archives and, of course, the famous Escorial. Eugene Lyon who serve notifies the researcher of the existence of valuable sources in “other [private] archives” (religious, public notaries, municipal, university and institutional). Those of the numerous Notary Offices in each city and town are studied with more detail, as in the cases of Cádiz (trade with the Indies), Sevilla (Indies affairs and some exploration ventures in North America) and even those of the Balearic Islands. He also mentions, although with limited detail, those of the ministries of foreign affairs (civil and criminal courts), which also decided on the cases related to the aristocracy and on contested estates. With respect to private archives, those of the Duke of Alba, the Duke of Veragua, the Archives of the King’s Sons and those of Medina- Sidonia are mentioned, as well as, the Archives of Revillagigedo, and that of Felipe II’s Secretary, Mateo Vasquez, which is located with the papers of the Altamira House. The ecclesiastic archives of the Jesuits are highlighted, because their collections were saved by moving them to Belgium during the days of the Republic and the Civil War.

This book is very useful for teachers, students and the general public interested in learning about sources in the U.S.A. for the study of the Hispanic presence in North America.

G. G. Christian