The ESSS Colombian Collection consists of eighteenth and nineteenth-century colonial church records, notarial records, photographs and maps from the First Notary of Quibdó, the Notary of Buenaventura, the Parochial Archive of Tadó, the Parochial Archive of Novitá, the San Francisco de Asissi Cathedral in Quibdó (capital of the Chocó) and the Notaria Primera of Riohacha (on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and the peninsula of La Guajira). The Quibdó and Riohacha projects, under the direction of Dr. Pablo Gómez and Dr. Jane Landers, were made possible through the support of British Library Endangered Archives Grants (EAP 255 and EAP 503).
The value of the documents contained in this collection for studying the African Diaspora is difficult to overstate. The Catholic Church mandated the baptism of African slaves in the fifteenth century and extended this requirement across the Catholic Americas. Baptismal records thus became the longest, and most uniform, serial data available for the history of Africans in the Americas, continuing through to almost the end of the nineteenth century. Once baptized, Africans and their descendants became eligible for the sacraments of marriage and Christian burial, thus generating additional records of their lives. Meanwhile, the notarial documents demonstrate the region's rich commercial and social history. These include documents for the purchase and sale of public and private properties from both urban and rural settings; land petitions and adjudication of disputes over public and private lands; documents pertaining to the formation of merchant societies and to the commercial exchanges among Spaniards, foreigners, and indigenous Guajiros; slave sales and purchases, as well as manumission documents; wills and testaments of the most important families in the region which detail social and political alliances and the formation of wealth.
In this section of the website, you will find information on the development of the Colombia project and the documents themselves as they become available. As researchers begin to transcribe the books contained in the collection, they will be uploaded to the transcriptions page.