John Jay TePaske papers, 1500s-1988

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TePaske, John Jay
11.9 Linear Feet
9000 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The following overview was compiled almost completely from the 1999 accession of the TePaske Papers, although the 1993 accession contains more of the same types of materials.

This collection consists of summaries of the fiscal records of the royal treasuries of key regions in colonial Spanish America. Represented in these records are present-day Mexico (New Spain), Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia), Rio de la Plata (Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Chile, Ecuador, and Cuba. The scope of the records is broad and comprehensive, offering in most cases virtually complete series of fiscal data for the colonial era, from the sixteenth century through the early decades of the nineteenth century.

Variously known as sumarios, cartas cuentas, tanteos or relaciones juradas, the account summaries list all the revenues and expenditures in the account period for each particular treasury district. The royal treasuries (cajas) collected taxes and made disbursements. Tax receipts (cargo) included levies on silver production, sales and port taxes, Indian tribute, and royal monopolies on commodities, (tobacco, mercury, stamped legal paper) and legal transactions. Expenditures (data) included the salaries and upkeep of the district's royal bureaucracy, defense expenses, and support for the missionary activities of the church. Surplus revenue generally found its way into the viceroyalty's coffers to help defray costs related to governmental activities. Each summary synthesizes an account period's worth of transactions in each particular caja or treasury. As such, these documents provide a window into both the fiscal organization of the Spanish empire and the fiscal state of each district, and also help elucidate the diversity of economic life in the various treasury districts.

Most of these records come from the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, Spain. Originally organized into bundles or legajos, the account summaries were scattered in various sections of the Sevilla repository. The Contaduría section holds most of the accounts related to the period prior to the mid-eighteenth century. After that, the records are dispersed within the various Audiencia sections for each jurisdiction. For example, the records for the Lima treasury appear in the Audiencia of Lima section of the archive, and so on. The following list offers a broad overview of the location of the holdings in the Archivo General de Indias:

Peru: Up to 1760: Contaduría (legajos 1679-1873); After 1760: Audiencia of Lima (legajos 38-50); Audiencia of Cuzco

Upper Peru: Up to 1760: Contaduría (legajos 1795-1850); After 1760: Audiencia of Charcas (legajos 627-671); Audiencia of Lima (legajos 1301 and 1415)

Chile: Up to 1750: Contaduría (legajos 1854-1858, and 1860); After 1750: Audiencia of Chile (legajos 339-351, 395-415)

Rio de la Plata: Contaduría (legajos 1845, 1846, 1884, 1886A, 1887A, 1894A, 1894B); Audiencia of Buenos Aires (legajos 393-399, 401-409, 442, 445-446, 448, 450-451, 453-455, 457-458, 460-462, 464-466, 484, 619-620, 701-703); Audiencia of Lima (legajo 1416)

Ecuador: Contaduría (legajos 1377, 1539-1540, 1576-1577); Audiencia of Quito (legajos 140-141, 173, 165, 407, 413, 415-429, 469-475, 477, and 497)

Mexico: Up to 1760: Contaduría (legajos 677-940); After 1760: Audiencia of Mexico (legajos 2027-3198); Audiencia of Guadalajara (legajos 436-496)

These archival materials were originally collected for a collaborative research project designed to compile comprehensive fiscal data on the former Spanish American colonies. Except for the Cuban accounts, the majority of these sources have already been published in book format as the list below attests:

A. Mexico (New Spain) and Mexico City:

John J. TePaske and Herbert S. Klein. Ingresos y egresos de la Real Hacienda de Nueva España. 2 vols. México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1986-1988.

John J. TePaske and José y Mari Luz Hernández Palomo. La Real Hacienda de Nueva España: la Real Caja de México, 1576-1816. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, SEP, Departamento de Investigaciones Históricas, Seminario de Historia Económica, 1976.

B. Peru, Upper Peru (Bolivia), Rio de la Plata (Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Chile, and eighteenth-century Ecuador:

John J. TePaske and Herbert S. Klein. The Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America. 4 vols. Durham: Duke University Press, 1982-1990.

(Note: The fourth volume in the series on Ecuador was compiled by professors Alvaro Jara and John J. TePaske.)

We strongly encourage researchers to first read the introductions to the published accounts before consulting these records. In the introduction to each volume, researchers will find useful background information about the development of the royal treasury system in the districts for which there is fiscal data. The introductions also concisely explain the organization and operation of the treasuries, the structure of the account summaries and the terminology used in them, the use of multiple units of currency, and other important details about bookkeeping in colonial times.

Although the published account summaries faithfully replicate the originals, there are slight variations. The authors made minor changes to make the data more manageable. Monetary units were rounded off and the entries on both the income and expenditure sides of the accounts were standardized and arranged in alphabetical order. For more information on these and other methodological issues, please see the introduction to the volumes.

The TePaske collection consists of colonial Spanish American fiscal records in both microfilm and print. The printed materials are duplicates of the originals in microform.


caja real = royal treasury

cargo = income, revenue

data = expenditure, disbursement

legajo = bundle of documents

ramo = income/expenditure category

sumario = accounts, account summary (also carta cuenta, tanteo, relación jurada)

tesorero = treasury official (also contador)

Biographical / historical:

Professor John J. TePaske is Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and a distinguished scholar of colonial Latin American history.

Acquisition information:
Collection was received as gifts from Dr.TePaske in 1993 and 1999.
Processing information:

Preliminary processing by Lisa Stark, Ali Poffinberger, and Debbera Carson; finding aid by Luis Gonzáles

Completed February 24, 2000

Encoded by Lisa Stark

This collection is unprocessed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Finance, Public -- South America -- History
Finance, Public -- Cuba -- History
TePaske, John Jay
TePaske, John Jay
Cuba -- History


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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], John Jay TePaske Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.