Important Paraguayan Archive (1810s-1860s) Online: Curiosities and Gems

"Supreme Dictator" Gaspar de Francia rails against John Parish Robertson
for the "height of the most barbaric and brutal piracy" in 1815.

Dr. Richard Alan White, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington D.C. and noted historian of Paraguay found himself in a curious, frustrating dilemma when he gave copies of very important archival documents back to Paraguay last spring. To resolve it, rather than just up the ante, he went all in.

When White was doing his dissertation research on Paraguay, he came across a valuable collection of documents housed at the University of California--the Bareiro Collection. Someone has transcribed the entire collection and pdf-ed them. In celebration of Paraguay's bicentennial earlier this year, he gave the National Archive in Asunción copies of all 5000 documents as part of an attempt to increase the Archive's resources. Almost immediately, people got ahold of the documents and bound them and sold them for up to $170. (This is more than the average monthly salary in Paraguay.)

To circumvent this, White has uploaded the entire collection to a mediafire site. This can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world, and reflects a commitment to putting history in the grasp of ordinary Paraguayans.

I've only begun to look through the Bareiro Collection and have already found several documents that are germane to my not-not-not-my dissertation topic (the Robertson brothers' years in Paraguay, their business dealings, their banishment by Gaspar de Francia, and their writings on the whole experience decades later). The transcriptions of hand-written entries in official record books preserves archaic [mis]spellings ("Yndios" instead of "Indios,""Gefe" instead of "Jefe") and orthographic curiosities (like the practice of writing abbreviations in a vertical manner) and even the 1814 order by which the governing body endowed "the Citizen José Gaspar de Francia with the title Supreme Dictator of the Republic...for five years" (a title which he held onto until his death in 1840).

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