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Richard E. Greenleaf Papers

Identifier: MSS-769-BC

Scope and Content

Richard Greenleaf's papers deal with major people and events during the initial decades of Spanish presence in Mexico, as noted in the topics described below. The collection mainly consists of typed Spanish transcriptions and English translations of colonial documents made by Professor Greenleaf over his five decades of teaching, research and publication on the colonial history of Mexico. The documentary material was drawn mainly from the Archivo General de Indias of Seville and the Archivo General de la Nación of Mexico City. In only a few instances does the collection contain a copy of the orginal Spanish document. The collection also includes a small number of related personal notes, photocopied pages from published books and scholarly journals, and drafts of student dissertations. There is also one box of typed index cards offering archival and secondary source material relevant to Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga, first Archbishop of Mexico, and his era.

An addition to the Greenleaf collection was processed in June 2012. Several folders with transcriptions and summaries of archival documents from the Archivo General Indias (AGI) and the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN) were added to the Mexican Inquisition Series. These sources relate to Dr. Greenleaf’s research on the Inquisition in Mexico. Several folders containing Richard Greenleaf’s C.V., essays, notes, and excerpts were added to the “Assorted Book Excerpts and Articles” series. Three folders were added to the “Juan de Zumárraga“ series. Two contain analysis of Fernando Gil's Primeras Doctrinas del Mundo Nueva: Estudio histórico-teológico de las obras de Fray Juan de Zumárraga while the third contains photocopies of archival sources related to Archbishop Zumárraga from the AGN and AGI. Two groups of index cards were added to the “Index Cards” series. Both contain handwritten notes; the first references archival sources related to Mexico and the second contains notes related to Colonial New Mexico. Two series were added, “Course Materials” and “Land and Water.”

Mexican Inquisition: These documents are Mexican cases from the office of the Inquisition in Mexico City during the years 1649-1792. Some of the papers pertain to Inquisition proceedings prior to the above listed dates and the formation of the institution during the tenure of Juan de Zumárraga and Alonso de Montúfar as archbishops of New Spain during the 16th century. The cases show the broad range of activities prosecuted by the Inquisition including but not exclusive to the following: beatas, beatos, sexual indiscretions, crypto - Judaism, polygamy, disruption of celibacy vows by clergy, witchcraft, heresy, impersonation, sectarianism, hypocracy, superstition, miracles, blasphemy, visions, posession by devil, etc. A number of the cases deal with men and women of the Catholic religious orders of the colonial era and at least one with a Native American.

Diezmos: The documents relate to the varying forms of diezmo or tithe and labor extraction from 1526 - 1740 in Mexico. They show the transitional periods of exaction of labor and specie from New Spain during the course of the colonial period. Vast numbers of inventories of tithe collection from specific regions in Mexico abound in this collection. There are also a few examples from other parts of Latin America. The documents give insight to the contentious relationship between encomenderos and tax collection agencies normally operating through the ecclesiastical orders. They also show how the Crown and Church officials viewed the way the Indians of Mexico paid tribute during the period and the efforts to defend the rights of the natives from the diezmos. The documents also refer to the role of the religious orders, especially the Franciscans and Dominicans, in the effort to convert the Indians to Christianity, and the operations and problems of the encomienda, repartimiento, and general ecomony in Mexico and elsewhere. Included also are documents decribing the early parishes and churches, the conditions of the Indians, reasons for their poverty and the impact of these colonial programs on them.

Rodrigo de Paz: These documents relate to factionalism among conquistadores and their associates in the two decades after the conquest of Mexico. They focus upon two specific instances of contention, namely the wrongful death suit brought forth by the family of Rodrigo de Paz against Gonzalo de Salazar, and García de Llerena's wrongful imprisonment and torture case against Diego Delgadillo and Juan de Matienzo of the Royal Authority of New Spain. Both these cases illuminate the contentious and often hostile relationship among Hernán Cortés and anti - Cortés factions during the 1530's in Mexico and the operation of the judicial and appeals system in the colony.

Assorted Book Excerpts and Articles

Juan de Zumárraga: These documents chronicle the career and life of Juan de Zumárraga as the first Archbishop of Mexico and Protector of Indians in Mexico (1528 - 1548). They show his relationships and legal and extra - legal interactions with the regular clergy, secular clergy, the Royal Audiencia, Nuño de Guzmán and other royal officials. Included are his opinions and actions as arbiter in cases regarding encomiendas, tithe collection, treatment of the Indians, construction of churches and hospitals, and appointments within the Catholic Church in colonial Mexico. His papers give a view of the operations of Spanish religious orders, specially the Franciscans and Dominicans, and the legal and economic institutions in Mexico during his day. They provide insight into civil and criminal cases, the conditions of Spanish and Indian society, and the comportment of royal officials. There are also details about his family's properties and problems and personal correspondence to Spanish monarchs and associates in Spain and Mexico.

Index Cards: The box of 491 index cards offers detailed archival and secondary sources relevant to Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga, first archbishop of Mexico. The cards duplicate somewhat the contents of the main collection, but also include additional sources and citations. For example, there are notes to relevant documents in the Kraus Collection, Libros de Actas de Cabildo, the Archivo Historical Nacional microfilm series relating to tithe collection, and several secondary sources relating to the life of Archbishop Zumárraga. This is a valuable source for scholars because the cards pinpoint specific themes and exact locations for material within the cited sources.

Course Materials (Added June 2012): Contains materials used in the university courses the Prof. Greenleaf taught. These include Historiography, Introduction to Manuscripts and Paleography, the History of Mexico (Colonial, Modern, and Borderlands), Latin American Seminar and a Porfirio Diaz Seminar. The materials include syllabi, bibliographies, handouts, maps, and hand-written lecture notes.

Land and Water (Added June 2012): Includes reports, correspondences, transcriptions and translations of sources, and excerpts from legal opinions and secondary sources. These relate to questions concerning the late-colonial era “Plan of Pitic” and the “Pueblos Rights Doctrine,” which litigants in cases such as State of New Mexico v. The City of Las Vegas cited to support their claims to water rights. This series also includes materials related to the founding of Albuquerque and general questions concerning land and water rights in the states that were once part of Spain and Mexico.


  • 1519-2004


Language of Materials

English Spanish;Castilian

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf earned three degrees at UNM: a bachelor's in Government in 1953, a master's in Inter-American Affairs in 1954, and a Ph.D. in History and Political Theory in 1957. To prepare his dissertation on Mexico's first bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, and the Mexican Inquisition, he worked under the direction of Prof. France Vinton Scholes, one of UNM's most esteemed scholars and for whom Scholes Hall was named. Dr. Greenleaf began his teaching career at the now-defunct University of Albuquerque while he was working on his master's degree. As a graduate student, he studied in Mexico City and enjoyed the cultural vibrancy so much that he began teaching history and international relations at the Universidad de las Américas (UDLA) in Puebla.

By the time he returned to the United States in 1969, some 14 years later, he had become dean of UDLA's Graduate School of Inter-American Studies. For the next 29 years, Greenleaf built the Latin American Studies Program at Tulane University, where he became an expert in the history of the Catholic Church and the economics of colonial Latin America. During that time, he served as director of Tulane's Center for Latin American Studies, chaired the History Department, led the Mesoamerican Ecology Institute and was installed as the France Vinton Scholes Chair in Colonial Latin American History. He authored 11 major books, served as co-author or contributor to 17 others and published nearly 50 articles in the fields of Latin American and New Mexico history. Dr. Greenleaf died on November 8, 2011.


10 boxes (10 cu. ft.)


Richard Greenleaf's papers deal with major people and events during the initial decades of Spanish presence in Mexico. The collection mainly consists of Greenleaf's typed Spanish transcriptions and English translations of colonial documents from the the Archivo General de Indias of Seville and the Archivo General de Nación of Mexico City.


8 series:

Mexican Inquisition


Rodrigo de Paz

Assorted book excerpts and articles

Juan de Zumárraga

Index cards

Course Materials

Land and Water

Related Archival Material

Center for Regional Studies and the Center for Southwest Research presentation, Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf.

Center for Regional Studies and the Center for Southwest Research Fellows presentation, Frank Alvarez.

AGI - AGN Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Lansing B. Bloom Papers, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico France V. Scholes Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Eleanor B. Adams Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Vargas Project Records. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Lansing G. Bloom Collection, Fray Angélico Chavez History Library, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe Archivo General de la Nación de México (AGN) Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Documents from the Archivo General de Indias and other related archives. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Jane C. Sanchez Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico.
Finding Aid of the Richard E. Greenleaf Papers, 1519-2004
Processed by Frank R. Alvarez
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131