Spanish Colonial Research Center



As a way of recognizing our Spanish colonial past in the present-day United States and in commemoration of the Columbus Quincentennial in 1992, the National Park Service established the Spanish Colonial Research Center in 1986 as a partnership with the University of New Mexico. The Spanish Colonial Research Center's primary purpose is to preserve its collection of early Spanish colonial documents and maps and develop finding aids. It employs University of Mexico students interested in learning Spanish Colonial and Mexican National Period paleography. The Spanish Colonial Research Center cooperates with research entities in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico and is a part of the Center for Southwest Research (CSWR) at Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Stephen Mandrgoc serves as the Program Coordinator for the conservation of the collection.

The Resources of the Spanish Colonial Research Center

Under the direction of Dr. Joseph P. Sánchez, the Center accumulated over 500,000 pages of microfilmed Spanish colonial documents and approximately 8000 maps, architectural plans, and sketches of colonial North America from primarily 34 archives in Spain, Mexico, Portugal, France, Italy, and the Caribbean. The Center works to compile these collections, which historically reflect significant aspects of our national story, into digital format for public use. In association with the University of New Mexico, the Spanish Colonial Research Center provides opportunities for national and international scholarly exchanges.

The Spanish Colonial Research Center’s database serves researchers interested in the Spanish Colonial period in North American and the early Mexican National Period in the Greater Southwest. Previously, the SCRC has assisted the National Park Service and sister agencies in the interpretation/preservation of its programs, as well as providing a wealth of material for researchers at the University of New Mexico. It has provided the National Park Service parks with Spanish-language translations of wayside exhibits, General Management Plans, brochures, correspondence, and other important services linking our nation’s history to events during the Spanish Colonial period, including a standardized usage of Spanish grammar, syntax, and vocabulary which ensures accessibility for Spanish-speaking visitors at various national parks.

Our Spanish Colonial Heritage

Nearly 22 summers had passed after Christopher Columbus' first voyage in 1492, when Spanish explorers under Juan Ponce de León stood on the shores of Florida and claimed it for Spain. By the middle 1540s other expeditions such as those led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and Hernando de Soto, had explored from California to Florida. These and other expeditions caught the first glimpse of North America for Europeans in the first half century since the European discovery of the New World. The legacy of the encounter between early Europeans and Native Americans throughout the New World is still with us today.

Spanish colonial exploration, settlement, and development of vast regions of North America are a part of our national story, which has made a major contribution to North America's settlement patterns, law, history, culture, and language. Long before there was a Jamestown, Virginia, or a Plymouth Rock, there was a San Agustin in Florida (1565) and San Juan de los Caballeros in New Mexico (1598). Between 1492 and 1821, the Spanish claim to North America extended from Alaska to Florida and the Caribbean as well as Mexico, Central and South America.

The National Park Service's Spanish Colonial Heritage sites range from Alaska to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and from California to Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas--all areas in North America once claimed by Spain. Among the many historically significant sites in the continental United States are Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, the site visited by Rodríguez Cabrillo, 1543; El Morro National Monument ("Inscription Rock") in New Mexico where early Spanish travelers such as Juan de Oñate (1604) carved their names; St. Augustine established by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (1565) in Florida; and other mission and fortification sites in the greater Southwest and Southeastern states.



Albuquerque, New Mexico


Hokona-Zuni Room 322

Spanish Colonial Research Center Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131


Stephen Mandrgoc, Ph.D.

(505) 803-1836


The Spanish Colonial Research Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday save for UNM holidays.




Guide to the Microfilm Collection in the Spanish Colonial Research Center, National Park Service, Joseph Sánchez