Bexar County Clerk's Spanish Archives & Special Collections
The Bexar County Spanish Archives contains the single most important primary sources for the earliest history of Hispanic Texas and consist of over a quarter-million pages of hand-written manuscripts and printed documents of the Spanish colonial era and the Mexican State of Coahuila y Texas.
The Archives are located in downtown San Antonio at the Presideo Gallery across from the Bexar County Courthouse and are open to the public to view on a first-come, first-serve basis with appointments available for extended periods of study.
Baltasar de Zúñiga
Baltasar de Zúñiga, 1st Duke of Arión, Viceroy of New Spain
Church of San Fernando
Church of San Fernando in the square of San Antonio
District Notes from the Bexar County Archives
Map of San Antonio de Bexar
Map of San Antonio de Bexar from January 1, 1836
Signature of James Bowie
Marriage Contract on April 21, 1831
Comanches du Texas Occidental ca. 1834
Shield with the coat of arms of Spain
What are the Bexar Archives?
The Bexar Archives contain the single most important primary sources for the earliest history of Hispanic Texas, including the Franco-Spanish dispute over the territory, contestation between New Spain and Indian Nations, and the empresario period of post-Mexican-Independence rule, when Anglo colonists began to settle prior to the onset of the Texas Revolution.
The Bexar Archives consist of over a quarter million pages of hand-written manuscripts and printed documents of the Spanish colonial era, from 1717 to 1821, and the Mexican State of Coahuila y Texas, including the Bexar District, which then comprised the entire region from the Nueces River in the South to the Sabine Rivers.
The corpus of records are official Spanish colonial-era and Mexican Republic-era documents of the administrative, political, military and even social life of the colonial frontier Provincia de Tejas in New Spain with its capital first at Los Adaes and after 1773, in San Antonio de Béxar.
Where are the Bexar Archives?
The Bexar Archives currently reside in two separate locales: The Bexar County Archives Building in San Antonio, Bexar County, and at the University of Texas Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in Austin, Travis County.
The Archives in Bexar County are open to public viewing and can be visited at 126 E. Nueva Street, 78204.
Why were they broken in two?
The Bexar Archives were broken in two on September 30, 1899 when the then County Clerk, Frank Newton, a friend of the early historian of Texas Lester Bugbee, obtained an “aye” vote from Commissioner’s Court even though, as he stated, “they were afraid of it politically” to a proposal to have them shipped at the expense of the University of Texas in Austin to the flagship state University Library.
The County Clerk maintains that Frank Newton may not have had the legal authority to carry out this act, and that the records did not cease to be Bexar County Records after their removal to the research libraries at UT-Austin. The official act of the Commissioners Court stands, and so the majority of the collection reposes in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American history.
Digital exchange of the Archives
Cooperatively, the University of Texas sends bound copies of translations to the Bexar County Spanish Archives. The Bexar County Spanish Archives also have a complete set of microfilm images of the materials sent to Austin at the turn of the 20th century, which have been imaged digitally as well. Furthermore, some 20 research libraries in the United States have the calendared microfilm collection.
The Bexar County Courthouse’s Office of the County Clerk remained the repository of records related to land grants and sales; probate records such as wills and estates, powers of attorney, and other matters related to property; land tenure; litigation; and the like.
How are the Bexar Archives utilized today?
Researchers of all kinds, including historians, demographers, archaeologists, and family history enthusiasts/genealogists, have made use of this corpus of records, which offers insights into the frontier history and heritage of the community from its earliest Spanish-language records.
The earlier documents reflect the relations of the five Franciscan Indian Missions, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015; the community of Presidial soldiers and their families residing at the military post established in 1718; and the civil town San Fernando established in March 1731 with the arrival of settler families from the Canary Islands. Thus, the records afford a glimpse of administrative, civil-military relations, and the missions in a region dominated by powerful Indian nations, cattle raising, maintenance of public order, trade and commerce, communications, and concern about encroaching rival powers.
Temporally, as the time-line moves into the 19th century, the population increase is reflected in the volume and breadth of the documents. Fully half of the total number of documents therefore deal with the fifteen year Coahuila y Texas statehood-era, e.g. 1821 to 1836.
The Bexar County Clerk’s Spanish Archives and Special Collections proudly serves our community and citizens as deputies of the Bexar County Clerk with research on the storied past of the six flags of Texas, and the nine of Bexar. We welcome you to the Spanish Archives and Special Collections!
The Bexar County Clerk’s Spanish Archives and Special Collections are located in the first floor of the Bexar Archives Building located on: 126 E. Nueva St. San Antonio, TX 78204. The archives are open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Research the Archives
The Bexar County Clerk’s Spanish Archives and Special Collections accepts walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis as archivist availability allows. If the session exceeds 30 minutes, an appointment will need to be scheduled. To schedule an appointment, please submit a Research Request Form.
Tour the Archives and Presidio Gallery
The Bexar County Clerk’s Office offers tours of some facilities, including collaborative visits to the Bexar Heritage Center in the Old Red Courthouse. Tours are free and open to any organization, school group, or association that may be interested. Tours of the facilities are available Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM, with the exception of holidays. Tours last approx. 45-60 minutes, and can accommodate topics of interest or focus on a given department.
To schedule a school tour, please submit a School Tour Form
To schedule a tour, please submit a Tour Form.
David C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Archivist for County Clerk
Bexar County Spanish Archives
Bexar County Spanish Archives
Bexar County Spanish Archives
Our Spanish Archives collection contains the earliest existing records of San Antonio de Bexar from the Spanish Colonial era through the Mexican Republic era and the Texas Revolution.
To view the finding aids, click on the links below.
For more information regarding these pages, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Amnesty Oaths
A group of amnesty oaths of ex-Confederates swearing allegiance to the United States if America. Records range from 1865 to 1866 and are arranged by last name.
Seventy-three printed and handwritten broadsides from New Spain, Mexico, Coahuila y Texas, and San Fernando de Béxar. Broadsides include royal decrees and proclamations from 1761 and 1822 and are arranged chronologically.
- Confederate Pension Applications (CP)
A record group of 346 Confederate pension applications often by widows or heirs for Confederate States of America military members from 1861 to 1865. At least one claim was made as late as 1926. Applications include the name of the petitioner, name of the soldier, relation to the soldier, service unit, and date, and are arranged by the last name of the soldier.
- Contracts, Agreements, & Receipts (CAR)
A record group consisting of 20 contracts, agreements, and receipts between citizens of San Fernando de Bexar, including the marriage contract of James Bowie and María Ursula de Veramendi. Records date from 1790 through 1835 and are arranged chronologically.
- Custom House Reports (CHR)
A record group of sixteen records and reports pertaining to commerce in San Fernando de Béxar during the Federal Republic of Mexico. Records date 1824, and from 1832 until 1834, and are arranged chronologically.
- Decrees, Edicts, Laws, and Proclamations (DELP)
A large collection of 619 decrees, edicts, laws, and proclamations pertaining to New Spain, Mexico, Coahuila y Texas, and San Fernando de Béxar. Records date from 1761 until 1836 and are organized chronologically.
- Land Grants & Sales (LGS)
A collection of land grants and sales including the Spanish Colonial Government, Mexican Government, and private citizens in Bexar. The collection spans from 1736 until 1837, with the bulk of the collection spanning from 1820 until 1835. It is arranged by last name of the grantee, and chronologically. Records for land transactions in Bexar after 1837 may be found in the Bexar County deed records database.
- Lands Outside Bexar County (LOBC)
One hundred twenty-two land grants and sales for land outside of Bexar County proper, but within the district including the Spanish Colonial Government, Mexican Government, and private citizens. Records span the years 1765 to 1835, with the bulk of the collection being 1817, 1827, and 1833. It is arranged by geographical location and in chronological order.
- Litigations (LIT)
Thirty-seven litigation records from 1757 until 1830. Records are arranged chronologically.
- Military Reports (MRPT)
Sixteen military reports from various officials in colonial New Spain, Mexico, Texas statehood, and San Fernando de Béxar. Records date from 1781 until 1832 and includes one record from 1886. The collection is arranged chronologically.
- Mission Records (MR)
Ninety-three inventory records, mostly land grants and sales pertaining to the secularization of the five San Antonio missions: Mission San Antonio de Valero, Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña, Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, Mission San Juan Capistrano. And Mission San Francisco de la Espada. Records date between 1791 until final secularization by 1824. It is arranged by both mission and in chronological order. Records for land transactions near the San Antonio missions post 1824 may be found in the Bexar County deed records database.
- Oficios (OFI)
One hundred fifty-two official letters, orders, petitions, and reports pertaining to Coahuila y Texas, and San Fernando de Béxar. Records date from 1770 through 1833 and are arranged chronologically.
- Postal Administration (PA)
A group of twelve records pertaining to the postal administration of New Spain, Mexico, and San Fernando de Béxar. Records date from 1814 through 1835 and are organized chronologically.
- Power of Attorney (PA)
Eighty-four power of attorney records from 1770 until 1836. The bulk of the collection dates from 1825 through 1829. Records are arranged alphabetically by the grantor’s last name.
- Protocols (PROT)
Records including wills, testimonies, sales of land, lad grants, power of attorney, some birth and baptismal records, inventories, and receipts that date from 1752 through 1835. The collection is arranged chronologically.
- Rebel Properties (RP)
A record collection of ten legal proceedings pertaining to confiscated properties of those presumed as rebels. The collection dates from 1813 through 1819 and mentions the major San Antonio flood in July of 1819.
- Special Collections (SC)
A record group pertaining to prominent Bexareños such as the papers from the estates of David Crockett, María Josefa Veramendi de Garza, James Bowie, and José Antonio Navarro. Records date from 1837 until 1871 and are arranged alphabetically by last name and chronologically. Records from this collection are cross-listed with other record groups.
- Unidentified File Objects (UFO)
Miscellaneous records including sales of land, land grants, transfers, surveys, and decrees ranging from 1755 until 1842. Records are organized in alphabetical order by last name and chronologically.
- Wills and Estates (WE)
A collection of 124 wills and probate-type documents from 1724 until 1870, including records of prominent Bexareño families such as the Veramendis, De la Garzas, Navarros, and the will of Enrique Felipe Neri, the Baron de Bastrop. This collection is arranged alphabetically by last name and in chronological order.
The records - mostly correspondence, personal letters, receipts, contracts, probate documents, and a few other types consist of the personal papers of Manuel Yturri Castillo I (1789 - 1843) who immigrated in the early 19th century from his native Elgeta/Elgueta, Gipuzkoa/Guipuzcóa in Spain’s Basque country via Cádiz in Andalusia to Mexico, and thence to San Antonio de Béxar in the Provincia de Texas. There, he married the descendant of the founding Isleño, Canary Island settler families Rodríguez and Álvarez Travieso—María Josepha Isabel Rodríguez 20 Aug 1820 during the eve of Mexico’s transition from Spanish sovereignty to national independence.
Bexar Spanish Archive Resources
- Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Bexar Archives
- Bexar Archives Translations
- Database & Index
- The Portal to Texas History
Resources & Archives
Other history and genealogical research resources:
- A&M San Antonio Library Special Collections
- Los Bexareños
- San Antonio Genealogical & Historical Society
- San Antonio Conservation Society
- Daughters of the Republic of Texas – Texas A&M Special Collections
- City of San Antonio Municipal Archives
- San Antonio Public Library Texana Genealogical Center
- BiblioTech Digital Library
- Texas General Land Office
- Texas Historical Commission
- Archdioceses of San Antonio
- Catholic Archives of Texas
- St. Mary’s University Special Collections
- Benson Latin American Collection, UT-Austin
- Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, UT-Austin
- Bexar County Heritage
- Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC)
- Our Lady of the Lake University Special Collections
- University of Houston Special Collections