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The Geographic Relations of New Spain

The information contained in the Relaciones Geográficas constitutes one of the most important sources of knowledge for the study of both Prehispanic (particularly the Post-classic period) and Colonial life in America. The sheer size of the source material has, in many ways, restricted access to this varied and complex wealth of information. As such, utilising computational techniques offers a unique approach to the study of these sources, considerably improving accessibility in the process.

Our corpus largely consists of the comprehensive editions of René Acuña, recently digitised and made available by the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas. Acuña compiled a considerable majority of the Relaciones Geográficas del Siglo XVI, culminating in the publication of the following editions:

René Acuña’s editions do, however, omit the province of Yucatán. We are therefore using Mercedes de la Garza’s Relaciones Histórico-geográficas de la Gobernación de Yucatán to complement the work of Acuña.

In addition, our research is drawing upon the following resources to provide further background:

Paso y Troncoso, F. del., (1905) Papeles de Nueva España. Segunda Serie Geografica y Estadística, Madrid: Establecimiento Tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra.

This collection encompasses the geographic relations compiled during the 16th century from diverse dioceses and archiepiscopates from the region of Mexico. These were edited and transcribed by Francisco del Paso y Troncoso, and although originally 8 volumes were planned, only 6 were published in 1905

Real Academia de la Historia (1900) Colección de Documentos Inéditos de las Posesiones de España en Ultramar. Segunda Serie. Madrid: Establecimiento Tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra.

This is a broad compilation of diverse historical sources located at the Archivo General de Indias, in Seville, Spain. The chosen volumes include a range of important documents with information discussing geographic, legislative and political matters, amongst others.

  • Volume 5: Documentos legislativos.
  • Volumes 9-10: Documentos legislativos.
  • Volumes 11 and 13: Relaciones de Yucatán.
  • Volumes 14 to 19: Índice general de los papeles del consejo de Indias.
  • Volumes 20 to 25: Gobernación espiritual y temporal de las Indias.

This corpus consists of more than 2.8 million words and thousands of pages. Digitised versions of the documents are available through Europeana | Google Books | Internet Archive.


Creating resources for future research