Bexar Archives Records
Scope and Contents
Original documents on microfilm (in Spanish) and typescript translations (English) reporting trials of smugglers highwaymen, thieves, traitors, murderers, foreigners, deserters, and others who failed to comply with Spanish and Mexican laws give the reader an eyewitness view of the judicial procedure and the everyday life in Texas over a century ago. Royal orders, official and personal letters from officers, enlisted men, and civilians present a vivid picture of the administrative and financial methods of the government. Reports of occasional inspections, reconnaissance expeditions, explorations, new settlements, diaries, lists of Indian presents and military supplies are other interesting matters recorded in the Bexar Archives. Even duels, love affairs and other bits of intimate life are found in these documents. Many Texans, who are descendants of the early Spanish, Mexican, or Anglo-American settlers of Texas soil would glow with pride if they could read about the deeds of valor and gallantry performed by their forefathers, as preserved in these valuable Bexar Archives.
- Event: Translated from 1934-1958
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and Spanish.
Conditions Governing Access
Open for research.
Biographical or Historical Information
The Bexar Archives is the term applied to the collection of official Spanish documents which was formed in San Antonio de Bexar when that city was the capitol of Texas under Spanish and Mexican rule. When the Anglo-American capitol was subsequently established in Austin, these Spanish documents were left in San Antonio, which became the seat of Bexar County.
They remained in the custody of the Bexar County Commissioner's Court until September 30, 1899, when a resolution was passed transferring the collection to the University of Texas except such documents as would be needed in Bexar County for legal purposes. Under the terms of the contract among other things, the University was obligated to house these documents in fire-proof vaults to make a complete calendar of them, and to translate the entire collection within a reasonable length of time.
As a result of this agreement, there were transferred to the University of Texas Archives 80,795 documents, or 204,500 pages of records preserving the military, civil and political life of the Spanish province of Texas and the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas, from 1699 through 1836. Those documents which were left in San Antonio have been calendared by Carlos Eduardo Castaneda in A Report on the Spanish Archives in San Antonio, Texas, (San Antonio: Yanaguana Society, 1937).
Most of the documents deposited in the University Archives are manuscripts written in brown, oxidized ink on time-yellowed paper, but there are also some printed documents. The earliest documents (1699-1734) deal mainly with the affairs of the Canary Island settlers. Some documents dealing with religious phases of life-are found in the collection. From the very beginning through the closing years of the eighteenth century, reports of Indian raids and atrocities take up much space in the Bexar Archives. At the opening of the nineteenth century friction on the Texas-Louisiana border is the main topic recorded. Smuggling, Indian troubles, and Anglo-American incursions are prominent in the period from 1800 to 1815. The Mexican revolution of 1810, with its counterpart in Texas in 1811, is vividly recorded in the Bexar Archives. This is followed by the Gutierrez-Magee invasion of 1812-1813, the battle of Medina in 1813, the Champ D'Asile incident in 1818, Dr. Long's expedition in 1819, the coming of Moses Austin in 1820, the Mexican independent regime in 1821, the Fredonian Rebellion in Nacogdoches in 1827, and last of all, the independence of Texas in 1836. Realizing the values of this priceless mine of research, the University of Texas has meticulously complied with all the stipulations of its contract. The documents have been carefully arranged in chronological order and stored in a fireproof vault. A calendar was completed in 1932. Although several hundred pages of manuscripts had already been translated prior to 1933, the Board of Regents, in order to comply more fully with the contract, appointed a translator and typist on a full-time basis. Subsequent aid was given the translator by the employment of student assistants under the Civil Works Administration, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and the National Youth Administration, and by the purchase of special typewriters and other materials.
5.50 Cubic Feet (Eleven microfilm trays)
7.50 Cubic Feet (Five banker's boxes)
This collection is described in two series. Series 1 consists of 172 reels of microfilm in 11 trays. These are located in the reading room. Series 2 consists of 87 folders and is housed in five banker's boxes. These are located in the closed stacks.
A table of contents has been prepared for each volume of translations. Along the left margin of the page the date has been typed. Next are given the name of the writer, the place from which he wrote, the name of the addressee, his location, and a brief summary of the contents of the document, followed by a physical description, including its identification, the number of manuscript pages, the number of typed pages, and the number of the page on which the document begins in the volume of typed translations.
Identification Symbols: the symbols used in identifying documents are to be interpreted as follows.
ADS - Autographed Document Signed (Document written and signed by the same person)
ALS - Autographed Letter Signed (Letter written and signed by the same person)
C - A simple copy of another document
cc - Certified Copy
Df - Draft
DS - Document Signed (Written by one person, signed by another)
LS - Letter Signed (Written by one person, signed by another)
Glossary: Following the last page of translations, the reader will find a list and explanation of Spanish words and phrases for which no concise English translation could be found. Index: At the end of the volume there is an Index of all proper names contained in the translations.
How to Use the Bexar Archives: Consult the Bexar Archives Calendar, which is available in the University of Texas Archive and read the summaries of the documents listed there. Copy the identification of the document desired (its own date, file date, and identification symbols), and call for the volume of Bexar Archives Translations containing that date. Look in the table of contents and glance down the date column to the proper date. Locate the description of the desired document, and in the right hand column you will be given the number of the page on which the translation begins. If no translation has yet been made for the document in which you are interested, the Spanish original may be consulted.
- Guide to the Bexar Archives Records
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script