Guide to the Regla Papers circa 1540s-1890s
Cage 357

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Regla Papers
Cage 357
Date [inclusive]
circa 1540s-1890s
22.0 boxes plus oversize
General Physical Description note
12 linear feet of shelf space
Most materials are in Spanish. Other languages in the collection include Latin, Nahuatl, and English.
Records of an aristocratic family, and public and private transactions with the viceroys and the Spanish Crown. Many documents bear signatures of Kings of Spain, viceroys of New Spain, and numerous other members of the social and political elites in the history of Mexico under Spanish rule.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description] Regla Family Papers, circa 1540s-1890s

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

"The title of Condado de Santa Maria de Regla was granted to the Romero de Terreros family by the crown in 1768, largely in appreciation for the business achievements and generosity to both the society and the monarchy of the founder of the family fortune, Pedro Romero de Terreros. The family retained the title until it and others were officially abolished shortly after independence in Mexico. The family, nonetheless, continued to invoke the title and be addressed by it well into the twentieth century, with family members retaining wealth and standing in society and, in some cases, making signal contributions to it."

(from "The Nature of the Regla Papers and Their Value for Scholars" by John Kicza. In Guido, John and Lawrence Stark. The Regla Papers: an indexed guide to the papers of the Romero de Terreros family and other colonial and early national Mexican families. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1994.)

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Scope and Contents note

"The Regla Papers can be very broadly classified into three groups: the papers generated by family members and their enterprises; those created by others which passed into control of the family when their descendants married into it; and those pertaining to the histories of some major agrarian enterprises which were eventually acquired by the Regla family.

"The papers of the family proper begin around 1750, when Pedro Romero de Terreros was already hugely successful and well known in the society through his commercial and mining operations, but still about five years before his marriage and about fifteen before the acquisition of the title of nobility. The papers cover four generations of family history, extending into the 1870s. They devote considerable attention to personal matters, family relationships, and the acquisition and maintenance of honors and status in society. Personal correspondence is generally lacking in this section of the collection. Included, though, are extremely lengthy and detailed testaments, dowry statements, genealogies compiled as part of the process of applying for honors, and diverse documents related to participation in honorary societies of different types, and even to travel and activities overseas.

"The business papers consist mainly of inventories and some account books from the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. They are oriented more to the agricultural activities of the family and are regrettably rather reticent about its commercial and mining investments. There is, however, some documentation pertaining to mine ownership and to the leasing out of some of these operations to English investors after independence. The documents are of considerable value for the study of family business activity after independence in a climate of political instability, economic stagnation, and heightened foreign competition. The variety of inventories and account books from the mid-nineteenth century are complemented by wills, which cover economic topics in some detail, and a number of miscellaneous business and legal documents.

"Of considerable interest are the roughly 230 folio leaves on the operation of the Monte de Piedad--the charity pawn shop founded by the first Conde in 1775 which continues to thrive today as a government institution--from the 1770s to the late 1890s. Other documents from the nineteenth century reveal how the family regarded entailment. Only a few of the family papers, however, delve into the issues of political participation and attitudes in the period from independence to the late nineteenth century.

"The second group of papers consists of documents from prominent colonial families who eventually intermarried with the Reglas. These marriage alliances, with their transfer of properties, businesses, and affiliated documentary histories, brought these records into the larger family archive. Taken together they span more than 300 years of Mexican history. In fact, the papers from these other families in the collection are commonly the documentation necessary to establish ownership of estates and various other enterprises which were transferred to the Reglas through matrimony.

"While this group of documents does not reflect the larger spectrum of activities and relationships undertaken by such prominent families, they are nonetheless surprisingly broad in their coverage. The subjects of ownership, transfer, boundaries, and value are defined most generously. One consequence is that the documentation can trace the history of a single enterprise. A notable example is the Hacienda del Batan located near Texoco, documentation of which begins in 1570 and continues until the mid-1700s.

"The greater part of this second group of papers pertains to the Urrutia de Vergara family, which acceded to the titles of Conde de Santiago, Marques de Salvatierra, and Marques de Salinas through marriage and inheritance in the early eighteenth century. This family did not actually intermarry with the Reglas until well after independence, but when it did, a significant body of documents--land transactions, legal proceedings, wills, inventories, and the like--passed into the possession of the Regla family. The records of the Urrutia de Vergara family date from before 1540 and continue until shortly after the turn of the nineteenth century, almost 300 years, although they bulk largest for the 100 years between 1650-1750.

"Some of the richest documentation comes through the Santiago family connection. This includes series of extensive correspondence beginning about 1775 between the Conde de Santiago in Mexico City and his estate managers, perhaps most notably from the manager of the well-known property, Molino de Flores. From 1799 to 1806, the family estates came under the close direction of Maria Josefa Velasco de Ovando, the younger sister of the Condesa de Santiago. These many letter-drafts provide a rare opportunity to view in detail the operations and changing fortunes of the agricultural enterprises of one of the major families of Bourbon Mexico over a number of consecutive years. A scattering of additional letters from Velasco de Ovando, from 1807 to 1811, are also in the collection.

"The marriage of the second Conde de Regla with the eventual third Condesa de San Bartolome de Jala brought about the combination of the two titles in their son and the transfer of valuable Jala papers into the Regla family archive. These documents commence in the 1740s and are mostly land records, production statements, and formal inventories and testaments by family members. They include the very extensive testament of Manuel Rodriguez de Pedroso, the first Conde and founder of the family fortune. Statements from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on pulque production, the heart of the family business, and shipments to Mexico City, are among the other documents present. There are also inventories of the family estates for the years 1829 and 1836. As late as 1847, the Conde de Jala was sponsoring the business career of a relative situated in Seville, Spain, an effort that other prominent Mexican families--the Iturbe e Iraeta, for one--undertook even well after independence.

"The third group of papers consists of nearly 3,500 folio leaves of Jesuit estate documentation for the period before 1767--when the Jesuit Order was expelled from all Spanish territories--bound into seven volumes. These papers passed into the hands of the Regla family in the 1770s when the first Conde made his famed purchase of about twenty of the Jesuit properties confiscated by the crown for something over one million pesos. The vast majority of the papers trace and confirm the histories of these lands and authenticate Jesuit titles to them against repeated challenges to their validity and their boundaries by Indian villages and private individuals.

"The Jesuit-related documentation is very full and detailed. Every step in the prolonged legal battle and final confirmation of title is documented. The names, titles, and activities of all parties involved are included. The physical layout and function of all of the properties over time are amply treated. Unfortunately, little is said about the management, labor systems, market orientation, and profitability of these enterprises."

(from "The Nature of the Regla Papers and Their Value for Scholars" by John Kicza. In Guido, John and Lawrence Stark. The Regla Papers: an indexed guide to the papers of the Romero de Terreros family and other colonial and early national Mexican families. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1994.)

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Arrangement note

"The original order of the Regla Papers is unknown. Many documents--some related, some unrelated--were bound together as cuadernos, while a number of unbound documents appeared to be in no particular order, and some were simply grouped together much as in modern file folders. No overall, systematic arrangement of these many cuadernos and documents appears ever to have existed, or if it did, it has been lost. This lack of order was observed by J. Horace Nunemaker and his associates in the late 1940s when they undertook to simply arrange unbound documents in chronological order. Beyond that effort, no other attempt was made to devise or impose an overall arrangement over the years, nor has an attempt been made to do so in terms of this guide.

"In their present arrangement the papers are grouped into five parts, or sequences reflecting something of the provenance, albeit often a provenance of convenience, of each part, as well as the nature of the material, and the format it assumes."

Series 1: "The first is the "Gaines Sequence," the part of the papers described in Jacquelyn Gaines's Three Centuries of Mexican Documents: A Partial Calendar of the Regla Papers (1963)."

Series 2: "The second sequence is called the "Gastine-Fieler Sequence." This portion of the papers consists of those documents acquired by the Washington State University Libraries in the late 1960s through the efforts of Mr. Morton Fieler of Chicago, Illinois, from an art dealer in Los Angeles, California. Included in this part are also several cuadernos that the libraries apparently acquired from other sources, and which were added to the Regla Papers in undocumented fashion sometime prior to 1970."

Series 3: "The third part is the "Jesuit Haciendas Sequence." Its provenance traces back to J. Horace Nunemaker's acquisitions in the 1940s, but the documents, having been bound together, were not described in Gaines's Calendar."

Series 4: "A short, fourth sequence consists of maps, charts, proclamations, and genealogical documents--disparate items that appear to have possibly been part of the Gastine-Fieler acquisition."

The fifth sequence, microfilm, was separated from the manuscript collection and is now part of the Regla Supporting Materials collection (Cage 535).

(from "Arrangement of the Papers and Use of the Guide" by Lawrence Stark. In Guido, John and Lawrence Stark. The Regla Papers: an indexed guide to the papers of the Romero de Terreros family and other colonial and early national Mexican families. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1994.)

Detailed information about the items in each series, as well an index, is available in the Guido and Stark guide (available here.)

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 2017
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open and available for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Washington State University Libraries purchased this collection in multiple installments between 1941 and 1969.

Processing Information note

This collection was processed in stages between the late 1940s and the 1990s. Several individuals from the WSU Libraries, as well as faculty and graduate students from other WSU departments, contributed to the physical and intellectual processing of the collection: Jacquelyn Melcher Gaines, Adelle Knox, John Guido, Terry Abraham, Lawrence Stark, Jose Vargas, Eric Dieterle, William Crampton, and Tomas Gomez.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Regla Supporting Material, 1944-1980: Cage 535. This collection includes the "Microfilm Sequence" listed as Series 5 of the Regla Papers in the 1994 Guido and Stark guide. It also includes transcriptions of many of the manuscripts in the Regla Papers, indexes, reference material and other documentation.

A second set of the bound transcriptions from Cage 535 is also held in MASC: MS.2010.25.

Separated Materials note

The Guido and Stark guide describes a fifth sequence, microfilm, which was separated from the manuscript collection and is now part of the Regla Supporting Materials collection (Cage 535).

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Controlled Access Headings

Family Name(s)

  • Regla Family.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mexico -- History -- Sources.


  • Latinos and Latinas.

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Other Finding Aids note

For detailed information about the contents of this collection, see:

Guido, John and Lawrence Stark. The Regla Papers: an indexed guide to the papers of the Romero de Terreros family and other colonial and early national Mexican families. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1994. Available online.

The Guido and Stark guide includes item-level descriptions of the collection contents, as well as an index.

In 1963, a portion of the collection was described in a published guide (later superseded by the Guido and Stark guide):

Gaines, Jacquelyn M. Three Centuries of Mexian Documents: a partial calendar of the Regla Papers. Pullman: Friends of the Library, Washington State University, 1963.

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Gaines Sequence 


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Series 2: Gastine-Fieler Sequence 

5-16, 22

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Series 3: Jesuit Haciendas Sequence 


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Series 4: Charts, Maps, Proclamations, Genealogies 

map case

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