Catalogue Historical Materials from Latin America




Contact Email:

Office Location: HSSB 4224

First Name: 


Last Name: 

Cobo Betancourt


Project Description

I am currently reviewing thousands of images of archival material from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries held in the city of Tunja, in the central highlands of Colombia. This material was produced by scribes and notaries on behalf of broad sectors of the very diverse population of this region, who went to them to record everything from contracts and business deals to wedding arrangements and wills. As a result, they provide a fascinating window into everyday life in a colonial Latin American city.
These images were created as part of a broader project with colleagues and students here in UCSB and in Colombia to digitize the holdings of endangered archives and libraries. You can see some of the results of that work here:
Over the years, we've digitised hundreds of thousands of images from Tunja and other places in Colombia, but in order to publish them and make them available to researchers we need to go through them and describe the documents, creating catalogues and finding aids. This is where we need your help!
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn to read early modern Spanish manuscript materials. Students who have worked on this project in the past have gone on to do amazing research on colonial Latin America, even at graduate level.

Undergraduate Contribution

The student assistant would go through individual volumes on our lightweight platform and help with a number of tasks, such as dividing the volumes into their constituent documents, recording information about them, and eventually reading and describing them.
"There are no course prerequisites, but the student must be interested in the history of Latin America and be willing to learn new skills.
If you would like to learn palaeography (how to read this old handwriting) in order to describe the documents, then an ability to read Spanish is essential. But there is much more to do, and you can make an enormous difference even if you don't read the materials!

Requirements and/or Application Instructions

No other experience is needed; all the necessary training will be provided.
In order to apply, please send me an e-mail at