Rare manuscript on Mariana Islands history to be turned over to University of Guam by Spanish delegation

Rare manuscript on Mariana Islands history to be turned over to University of Guam by Spanish delegation

Rare manuscript on Mariana Islands history to be turned over to University of Guam by Spanish delegation


2/23/2021

Spanish writing inside a “Memoria de las Islas Marianas” manuscript copy
Spanish writing inside a “Memoria de las Islas Marianas” manuscript copy documenting the history and geography of the Mariana Islands in the 1800s.

Cover of manuscript copy
The cover of a “Memoria de las Islas Marianas” manuscript copy, originally written by the Spanish governor of Guam in the 1850s and one of only two known copies, that is being permanently donated to the Micronesian Area Research Center at the 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, Rear Adm. Santiago Barber y López, will present the manuscript to UOG President Thomas W. Krise next 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, “Memoria de las Islas Marianas,” 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 was handwritten by Father José Palomo in 1896, copied from the original, which was written in the late 1850s by former Spanish governor of the Mariana Islands, Felipe de la Corte y Ruano-Calderón and published in 1876 in Madrid. 

“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 handover.

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. 

Back cover of a manuscript copy
The back cover of a manuscript copy titled “Memoria de las Islas Marianas,” originally written by the Spanish governor of Guam in the 1850s, that is now permanently at the Micronesian Area Research Center at the University of Guam.