The cover, inside and back cover of a “Memoria de las Islas Marianas” manuscript copy. Photos courtesy of University of Guam
A rare Spanish manuscript about the history of the Mariana Islands will be turned over to the University of Guam by a Spanish delegation visiting Guam for the quincentennial commemoration of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe.
The head of the delegation, Adm. Santiago Barber y López, will present the manuscript to UOG President Thomas W. Krise this week to be permanently deposited at the Richard Flores Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center at UOG. It will be viewable by the public later this year in a new exhibit at MARC. The manuscript comes from an anonymous Spanish donor on behalf of the family of the last Spanish governor of the Mariana Islands, Don Juan Marina. The family is permanently depositing this heirloom at MARC so that it will be accessible for the people of Guam and the Mariana Islands. The manuscript is a handmade copy of the original “Memoria de las Islas Marianas,” which was written by an earlier governor during the 1850s, Felipe de la Corte y Ruano-Calderón, and published in Madrid in 1876.
“It appears that copies of this Memoria circulated in Guam in manuscript form during the late 1800s. This particular one was copied from a version that Father José Palomo had made. That makes it even more significant,” said Carlos Madrid, director of research at MARC and the person who facilitated the donation.
Madrid added that the mere existence of the manuscript is testimony of the keen interest that the people of Guam in the 1800s had for the history and geography of the islands.
“CHamoru studies started back in the 1800s, and Father José Palomo was one of the early CHamoru scholars,” he said.
The manuscript being turned over to MARC is the only known privately owned copy. Only one other manuscript copy is known to have survived and is part of the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid in Spain. (UOG)