Recommended Reading: The Cíbola Project series

The Cíbola Project is one of the most important scholarly projects on New Mexico in my lifetime. With the mission of creating access, the Cíbola Project team locates significant documents from the Spanish colonial period and expertly transcribes those documents using their high-level paleographic skills. These transcriptions are then published — along with copies of the original documents — as downloadable PDF packets. These packets are available free to the public via the University of California’s California Digital Library:












(Above left, archive document from the proceeding against María de Zamora, Ana Ortiz and María.  Above right, excerpt from Jerry Craddock’s transcription of the same document.  Click to enlarge.  From Cibola Project’s Witchcraft in San Gabriel: The Trial of María Zamora, New Mexico, 1607)

In addition to creating access, the Cíbola Project is providing reliability and “authenticity” with new translations for some of the documents. These new translations are particularly important in light of the fact that some books on New Mexico contain or are based on inaccurate translations. As explained by Jerry Craddock, the project’s principal investigator, “the limited number of editions of documents that have been published in Spanish are with rare exceptions remarkably defective, marred by often crude misreadings, and in no way meet even minimal standards of textual integrity. Authors of the secondary literature devoted to the colonial Southwest have often been seriously misled by the textual inaccuracies of the translations and editions they relied upon.” (See Cíbola Project Mission Statement.)

The Cíbola Project has raised the bar on scholarly projects on the Spanish colonial period in North America. Unlike other projects in the past that have published transcriptions and/or translations in relatively expensive books, which has resulted in a hoard effect, the Cíbola Project publications are highly accessible. This accessibility promotes research and scholarly activity amongst academics, students and those with Nuevo Mexicano roots.

The documents, transcriptions and translations published by the Cíbola Project will help dispel myths and reveal a range of details about the people who lived in New Mexico during the Spanish colonial period. The work product of the Cíbola Project is mandatory reading for those persons who are interested in the history of New Mexico, the Mexicano North and the U.S. Southwest.

Congratulations to Jerry Craddock, Barbara De Marco and the rest of the Cíbola Project team. The project is sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Research Center for Romance Studies.

This 2016, I plan to write more about certain of the Cíbola Project’s publications.

Sonja Sonnenburg de Chávez


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