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Mariana Islands letters

Collection MS-2004-068: Mariana Islands letters


  • Creation: 1678-1687, undated

Scope and Contents

These letters were written between 1678-1687 by some of the first Spanish missionaries to the Mariana Islands. Seven are to María de Guadalupe de Lencastre, the Duquesa de Aveiro thanking her for support and aid in the mission. There is also one letter to Francisco García, a Jesuit priest in Madrid. Among the details included in the letters are descriptions of the European arrivals on the islands; Spanish and indigenous encounters; the daily life of Jesuit missionary work; reports of Jesuit deaths; ship and supply status; and requests for additional materials or men. Also included is a list of the Marianas Islands, divided into ones the missionaries had been able to reach and those they had not.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research; digital version available.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Historical Note

The Mariana Islands were first made known to Europeans by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. In 1565 Spain claimed sovereignty, but the islands were not colonized until Jesuit missionaries began settlements there in 1668. They named the islands for their benefactor, Queen Mariana of Spain.

The missionary work was led by priest Diego Luis de San Vitores and involved the construction of churches and religious schools, as well as redistribution of native islanders into villages. There was considerable resistance to the settlement efforts, and Spain sent military reinforcements under Jose Quiroga in 1680. The resulting Chamorro wars ended with indigenous populations being forcibly relocated to the island of Guam. By 1698 what remained of the native population had sworn allegiance to Spain.


“Northern Mariana Islands”. In Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, May 24, 2016. Encyclopædia Britannica (Accessed April 3, 2020).


1.75 Linear Feet (1 container )

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian


A collection of eight letters and one list, written in Spanish to María de Guadalupe de Lencastre y Cárdenas and Francisco García, regarding Jesuit missionary work and Spanish colonization of the Mariana Islands between 1678 and 1687.


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

Existence of digital copies

This collection is available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.


Mariana Islands Letters
1678-1687, undated
Edward Copenhagen, 2004, and Katie Lyle
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States