COLONIAL RESEARCH CENTER
A Partnership of the National Park Service and the University of New Mexico
As a way of recognizing our Spanish colonial past in the area of present-day United States and in commemoration of the Columbus Quincentennial in 1992, the National Park Service established the Spanish Colonial Research Center in 1986 as a partnership with the University of New Mexico. The Spanish Colonial Research Center's primary purpose is to develop a computerized data base from Spanish colonial documents to serve the research needs of the National Park Service's Spanish Colonial Heritage sites as well as other appropriate federal, state and local organizations. The Spanish Colonial Research Center cooperates with research entities in Spain, Portugal and Mexico.
The Resources of the Spanish Colonial Research Center
Under the direction of Dr. Joseph P. Sánchez, the Center has accumulated over 85,000 pages of microfilmed Spanish colonial documents and approximately 4,500 maps, architectural plans, and sketches of North America from Spanish and Mexican archives. Additionally, the Center has compiled computerized indices of its collections and prepares transcriptions and translations to form its research sources. Concurrently, a renewed Memorandum of Understanding originally signed in summer 1997, enables the Center to coordinate its research activities with appropriate faculty and graduate students. In association with the University of New Mexico, the Spanish Colonial Research Center provides opportunities for national and international scholarly exchanges. In partnership with the University of New Mexico, the Spanish Colonial Research Center publishes the Colonial Latin American Historical Review, a quarterly journal.
The Spanish Colonial Research Center maintains and increases its data base collection, which historically reflects significant aspects of our national story. The data base assists the National Park Service and sister agencies in the interpretation/preservation of its programs. The Spanish Colonial Research Center assists National Park Service parks with Spanish-language translations of wayside exhibits, General Management Plans, brochures, correspondence, etc. Accordingly, the Spanish Colonial Research Center has created a standardized usage of Spanish grammar, syntax, and vocabulary through its translation services for National Park Service parks which ensures accessibility for Spanish-speaking visitors. The Spanish Colonial Research Center also provides research assistance for new area studies in various states.
Our Spanish Colonial Heritage
Nearly 22 summers had passed after Christopher Columbus' first voyage in 1492, when Spanish explorers under Juan Ponce de León stood on the shores of Florida and claimed it for Spain. By the middle 1540s other expeditions such as those led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and Hernando de Soto, had explored from California to Florida. These and other expeditions caught a first glimpse of North America for Europeans in the first half century since the European discovery of the New World. The legacy of the encounter between early Europeans and Native Americans throughout the New World is still with us today.
Spanish colonial exploration, settlement and development of vast regions of North America are a part of our national story, which has made a major contribution to North America's settlement patterns, law, history, culture, and language. Long before there was a Jamestown, Virginia, or a Plymouth Rock, there was a San Agustín in Florida and a San Gabriel in New Mexico. Between 1492 and 1821, the Spanish claim to North America extended from Alaska to Florida and the Caribbean as well as Mexico, Central and south America.
The National Park Service's Spanish Colonial Heritage site range from Alaska to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and From California to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas--all areas in North America once claimed by Spain. Among the many historically significant sites in the continental United States are Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, the site visited by Rodríguez Cabrillo, 1543; El Morro National Monument ("Inscription Rock") in New Mexico where early Spanish travelers such as Juan de Oñate (1604) carved their names; St. Augustine established by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (1565) in Florida; and, other mission and fortification sites in the greater Southwest and Southeastern states.