The University Record, June 7, 1993

Clements gives historic papers to Mexico

By Kate Kellogg
News and Information Services

The William L. Clements Library has given a major manuscript collection—the original treasury records of the Mexican state of Zacatecas—to the Zacatecas campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari accepted the gift from Clements Library Director John C. Dann May 27 in a private ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Library.

Salinas was on campus to deliver the William E. Simon Lecture sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, and received an honorary degree.

The collection, which will be housed in the Manuel Sescosse Library on the Zaca-tecas campus, includes nearly 40,000 historical documents worth approximately $250,000, according to Dann.

The library purchased the documents from a Mexican book dealer for $10,000 in 1951 and legally exported them to the United States. Thus, the U-M is effectively returning the documents to their appropriate home, Dann said.

“This very complete historical collection dates from the 16th through the 19th centuries and is much more than a set of financial records,” he said. “Zacatecas was the center of Mexico’s silver-mining industry, a source of great wealth for Mexico during that period. The collection provides information on mining, the Indians who lived in Zacatecas, local history and genealogy.”

Scholars have used the collection for a variety of purposes including dissertation research, Dann added. “But I’ve always felt the Zacatecas Papers belonged in Zacatecas. The visit of President Salinas provided a good occasion for us to officially present the papers as a gift to his country.”

Mexico is rightfully sensitive about its historical artifacts because so many have gone out of the country to museums and private collections, Dann said. “Mexican scholars consider the return of these papers a great triumph.”

The decision to return the Zacatecas Papers resulted from Dann’s communication with Mexican scholars, including Rafael Rangel Sostmann, rector of the Monterrey Institute, and Manuel Sescosse Varela, president of the Society of Friends of Zacatecas.