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Historical Archive

Introduction to the documentary resources of the National Historical Archive

The document collections of the National Historical Archive are organised in a classification chart that, given the diversity of documents, is structured in five major sections: Institutions of the Ancient Regime, Contemporary Institutions, Ecclesiastical Institutions, Private Archives and Collections.

Institutions of the Ancient Regime

Through the Institutions from the Ancient Regime, in the point referring to Institutions of the Monarchy, the documentation produced by the Councils, Committees and State Secretariats and Offices is accessed. At the end of the 19th century, the administration gave the National Historical Archive the documentation that the Ancient Regime had not sent to the Royal Archive of Simancas. This abundant documentation corresponds to the Chamber of Castile, Councils of Castile, Aragon, Crusades, State, Treasury, the Indias, Inquisition, Orders, etc.; committees such as the Apostolic, Cavalry, Incorporations, Royal Court Chamber, etc., and the Secretaries of State and Office of State and War and Treasury, etc. They are 51 collections held in the Council, State, Inquisition, Military Order, Contemporary Contents, Codexes and Sigillography sections. They complete existing collections in other general archives such as Simancas, Indias and the Crown of Aragon.

The Corporations section includes institutions that in some cases go back to the Middle Ages, such as the Mesta, the councils of town and land, the holy brotherhoods, Universities such as Alcala de Henares and Sigüenza or the Seminary of Nobles. Ten collections are held in the Sundries, University, Codex and Sigillography sections.

Contemporary Institutions

There are also 32 collections belonging to Contemporary Institutions, the Legislative Authorities (Courts of Cadiz), the Judicial Authorities (including the collection of archives corresponding to the republican courts), and the Executive Authorities. This last section includes collections from the Spanish Central Administration (Military Directory of Primo de Rivera, Universidad Central de Madrid and the Ministries of the Treasury, Justice and Foreign Affairs, etc.), from the Colonies (General Headquarters of Cuba and the Philippines), from the Consultative Body (Overseas Commission, Royal Commission, etc.) and the Corporate Body (General Association of Cattle Farmers).

This documentation, which is held in the Contemporary, Overseas, Commissions, Sundries, Clergy, Military Orders and Sigillography sections completes the collection of the General Archive of the Administration of Alcalá de Henares. Due to the loss of the previous General Central Archive of Alcala in a fire after the civil war, the Ministries made their transfers to the Archivo Histórico Nacional, National Historical Archive, and this continued until the creation of the current General Archive of the Administration in 1969. To a lesser extent, these collections complete those which are to be found in the General Archive of the Indias and the Supreme Court.

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Ecclesiastical Institutions, whose documentation is the oldest (9th to 19th century ), was included in the Archive, as was previously mentioned, due to the encumbrance laws. From the Regular Clergy there are 2,090 document collections (1,382 from male orders and 708 from female orders) corresponding to 26 religious orders, from the Secular, there are 96 from cathedrals and 2,011 from parish churches, collegiates and chapels and those from the Pious Institutions and those offering assistance, 110 hospital collections. To this we should add the 11 convents of the Hispanic Military Orders (Santiago, Calatrava, Alcántara and Montesa) and the extensive documentation from the Orden de San Juan de Jerusalén, in the Languages of Castilla y León and Aragón.

This extensive document collection is held in the Clergy, Military Orders, Codex, Chartulary and Sigillography sections.

Private Archives

In the PRIVATE ARCHIVE section there are 40 personal and family collections, from people working in the field of science (Isaac Peral y Caballero, etc.), politics (Margarita Nelken, Marcelino Pascua, etc.), literature (Luis Rosales Camacho, Juan Ramón Jiménez, etc.), diplomacy (Juan Antonio Rascón Navarro, etc.), and the military (Vicente Rojo, Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, etc.), from the 15th to 20th century, to which we should add the recent incorporation of the archive of an association. They are kept in the Sundries and State sections.

Document Collections

Finally, there are the DOCUMENT COLLECTIONS, of textual and figurative documents. These comprise 30 collections with documents from the 10th to the 20th centuries, which have been either purchased or donated and in some cases have been put together in the archive itself for conservation purposes. These include the Codex, sigillography and cartography collections. They are held within all the Archive's sections.

To summarise, the heterogeneity of the collections makes the National Historical Archive an "archive of archives" with a huge volume of documents (43,500 ml.) and an extensive chronological range (9th to 20th centuries).
There is also a complementary Reprographic section, with documents from the Comintern and the archive of the Count of Campomanes.
Through the Spanish Archives Portal (PARES)( http://pares.mcu.es) you can access the description and digital image of these documents, whose numbers are increasing daily. By consulting the dynamic inventory of contents (Classification Table) of the National Historical Archive (AHN) you can browse through all the archives up to the level of individual documents.

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