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El Archivo General de Indias

Do you want to learn more about your early American ancestors? There is much more than just Spanish genealogy to be found in the Archivo General de Indias. Located in Sevilla, Spain, the archive houses all Spain's documents pertaining to New World conquest and colonization, including records of Spain's dealings with other nations. In the archive, you can research everyone from Hernan Cortés to Aaron Burr to James Wilkinson, governor of the Louisiana territory and a double-agent to the United States and Spain.

The archive's name refers to Christopher Columbus's misguided perception that he had found a new route to India; from that time forward, Spain's New World land holdings became known as the Indies. In Spain's heyday as a global shipping power that dominated the New World, its main port was Sevilla. Treasure-laden ships from the New World came from the Atlantic and sailed up the River Guadalquivir about 80 kilometers to dock at Sevilla. For that reason, it became the ideal place to collect and store all colonization documents in the archive there.

The archive's holdings include some of the most amazing historical documents anywhere, including Columbus's journal and the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the Americas between Spain and Portugal approximately on the 42º meridian. You can find records of nearly everything in the archive, from skirmishes with the English in Florida to lost or sunken treasure ships.

The archive, like all major Spanish archives, is included in the PARES network: the Portal de Archivos Españoles, which can be found online at Fortunately for researchers, all the millions of documents in the archive are currently in the process of being digitized. Soon they will all be available and searchable online, and many are online already.

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