Content: The collection consists of a mix of official, private, and family papers from colonial Spanish American territories: Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. The documents are all from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, except for a chronology of the history of blacks in Uruguay from 1680-1990.
Included in the official documents are a number of royal decrees concerning the commerce in Africans, the education, treatment and occupation of enslaved laborers, and the liberation of fugitives from the territories of imperial rivals. Other decrees include an 1810 Mexican prohibition against intermarriage between those of "known nobility and pure blood and blacks, mulattos and other castes" and an 1812 decree tackling the education of Spanish subjects of African origin in Mexico.
Significant in the collection's family papers are the Magan family legal documents which contain a history of an Argentinian family's slave holdings, and records matriarch Inez de Cabrera y Magan's dying wish to grant freedom to her enslaved woman, Josefa. In addition to the Magan family papers, there are a number of other private legal documents that deal with the sale and manumission of enslaved people.
A 1778 population register of 28 Puerto Rican cities and an 1815 record of the free black population in Buenos Aires offer a demographic picture of colonial Spanish America as do a 1753 Venezuela plantation inventory, a 1775 Cuban population register and a series of handwritten reports regarding maroons in Cuba's Matanzas Province (1837-1838).