Latin American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



It is the purpose of this study to present an account of hospitals and charitable institutions in New Spain during the sixteenth century. In order to gain a clear concept of this phase of the Spanish cultural program in the New World, it is first necessary to understand practices which originated in the realms of Castile as well as in other European nations, and were later transferred to the Americas. Such an initial investigation causes the modern reader to realize that the term "hospital" then involved much more than the medical treatment accorded today to those persons suffering from acute illnesses. Having found its reason for existence in the birth of Christianity, the hospital of past centuries embraced the entire field of charitable pursuits which today are often carried on by lay and civil authorities: treatment of the sick, care of the poor and needy, protection of orphans and old persons, asylums for the demented, places of refuge for transients. Certain religious end ethical concepts were attached to the hospital from its inception. Christian precepts demanded that the unfortunates of humanity receive adequate care and protection. The hospital, frequently a foundation of the secular or regular clergy, was designated as the institution to provide for the many varied needs of the helpless members of society.



Document Type


Degree Name

Southwest Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Latin American Studies

Second Department

Latin American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)


Second Committee Member

Dorothy Woodward

Third Committee Member