By Andalusian Archives
Archivo Histórico Provincial de Córdoba
“De la Torre y del Cerro: the marvelous world of an archivist” (1904)Andalusian Archives
The family of José de la Torre y del Cerro (1876-1959) recently donated his personal archive, the result of his work and research, to the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Córdoba (Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba).
This exhibition on the history of the city of Córdoba is made up of a selection of items from this extensive collection.
Few people have committed as much time and energy to studying the city's history as this Cordoban archivist and researcher. He was prudent, distinguished, and rigorous, exploring the depths of the city's resources, and fighting tirelessly to preserve its documentary heritage in times of particular vulnerability.
Indexing system of archivist José de la Torre y del Cerro by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
The treasure trove of documentary references in his archive makes it essential to pay homage to his memory and to prevent it from being lost, just as he so often did himself when uncovering lives, stories, and adventures from days gone by.
Enjoy exploring his world.
José de la Torre y del Cerro
In the 19th century, archives underwent a dramatic shift, becoming sources of historiographic study rather than administrative centers. The studious, meticulous, and well-educated José de la Torre emerged against this backdrop, embodying the values of the earliest archivists, who organized and documented the archives for use by researchers. In 2016, Pilar de la Torre Vasconi donated her father's archive, including research papers, fact sheets, articles, studies, and records, to the Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba. This exhibition is one of the activities honoring his memory.
José de La Torre when he was young by De La Torre FamilyAndalusian Archives
José de La Torre y del Cerro was born in Córdoba, and began his career as a technical assistant in Córdoba's Municipal Archive and Library, before being admitted to the State Body of Archivists, Librarians and Archeologists.
He was first assigned to the Treasury Department Archive of Málaga, before being transferred to the Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Spanish National Archeological Museum). In 1907, he moved from Madrid to the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies) in Seville, and from there, three years later, to the Treasury Department Archive of Córdoba, where he was in charge until 1940.
He was the Director of the Provincial Public Library and the National Institute for Secondary Education in Córdoba until his retirement in 1946. From 1914 onward, he was also in charge of the Notarial Protocol Archive, today known as the Provincial Historical Archive. At various points, when the position was unfilled, he took the reins at the Archeological Museum.
Job application presented by José de la Torre y del Cerro (1893) by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
The picture shows the job application José de la Torre y del Cerro submitted to Córdoba City Council in his bid to become Assistant Technical Officer at the municipal archive.
His excellent knowledge of Latin and paleography prompted him to write his application in Latin, using Visigothic script. He was hired.
José de la Torre y del Cerro, awarded the title of Academician by the Academia de Bellas Artes y Ciencias Históricas of Toledo. (1920)Andalusian Archives
José de la Torre y del Cerro studied first at Córdoba Secondary School, then the Escuela Superior de Diplomática (the Diplomatic School in Madrid), and finally the University of Madrid.
In 1920, he was made a scholar of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes y Ciencias Históricas (Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences) of Toledo.
His role in the academic world, and his connections with researchers and scholars, meant he was welcomed as a member of various cultural institutions. In fact, when he was made a scholar of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Sciences in 1920, his close friend, the Spanish author and historian, Rafael Ramírez de Arellano, presented him with the honor.
An Exceptional Archivist
José de la Torre y del Cerro's spent most of his intensive professional career in the Córdoba Treasury Archive, the only local government archives to benefit from having their own provincial staff.
Memory of the year 1915 Memory of the year 1915 (1915) by José De la Torre y el CerroAndalusian Archives
An example of a report on the state of the municipal archives from 1915
Francisco Rodríguez Marín, the senior official of the Cuerpo Facultativo de Archiveros, Bibliotecarios y Arqueólogos (Body of Archivists, Librarians, and Archeologists), sent out a circular to all of its professional members, explaining that the Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos (Archives, Libraries, and Museums review) wished to publish a guide illustrating all the services the body contributed to the general knowledge of the time.
It was also intended to make historical, literary, and artistic research easier, reviewing the funds and resources held by the body's centers.
The report shown in the picture was written by José de la Torre y del Cerro in response to this circular.
Memory of the year 1915Andalusian Archives
On various occasions (in 1915, 1923, and 1929), the Junta Superior de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos (Supervisory Board of Archives, Libraries, and Museums), under the authority of the Ministerio de Instrucción Pública y Bellas Arte (Ministry of Public Instruction and Fine Arts), sent de la Torre y del Cerro to inspect the municipal, parish, and notarial archives of Córdoba and its main towns.
His mandate was to "visit the non-centralized municipal and special archives, with the aim of […] saving the wealth of historical documents." His reports recorded the state of the archives, including notes on the condition of the material, and the existence and quality of any inventories.
Memory of the year 1915Andalusian Archives
When he packed his bags and set off around these towns, he endured conditions that would seem unbearable today.
His investigations brought him into contact with mayors, secretaries, parish priests, and notaries. He recorded details in his reports of the state of the archives, noting their physical condition, and the existence and quality of any inventories.
Memory of the year 1915Andalusian Archives
He wrote to his wife from his trip in November 1929 saying, "The journey to this town was terrible, but it could have been worse. The travelers' coach broke down just as we were leaving, and no fewer than six of us, including two nuns, had to travel in a three-seater Ford." On another occasion he complained,"…how tired I am of these outings."
Certificate of incorporation of the Board of Trustees of the Historical Archive of the Province of Córdoba (1932-01-20) by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
The Provincial Historical Archives
José de la Torre y del Cerro was integral in creating the Archivos Históricos Provinciales (Provincial Historical Archives).
At a time when a major centralization process was taking place in the Spanish National Archives, he reflected on "respect for regional documentation, and the creation and incorporation of regional and provincial historical archives, both judicial and notarial."
In the end, the provincial archiving method prevailed in the design of the Spanish archiving system, thanks in part to de la Torre's devoted work.
Drawing of the mosque for José de la Torre y del Cerro (1938-10-12) by Samuel de los Santos GenerAndalusian Archives
Drawing for José de la Torre y del Cerro by Samuel de los Santos
The Cordoban archivist José de la Torre y del Cerro was a friend and colleague of some of the great scholars of the age, including the painter Enrique Romero de Torres, the architect Rafael de la Hoz, the historian Juan Díaz del Moral, professor José María Rey Díaz, and museum director Samuel de los Santos.
His intimate friendship with de los Santos prompted him to intervene when he fell foul of Franco's "purification" and was awaiting execution in Badajoz. "… it may be that the latter [Santos Gener] be spared; my soul would rejoice at this, because he is a good person, and very competent. The poor man finds himself in an extremely difficult situation economically, and, furthermore, ill with vexation." Santos Gener was spared, and created this magnificent drawing for de la Torre in 1938 to thank him.
Member of the Instituto Arqueológico del Imperio Germánico (1924-04-21)Andalusian Archives
The German Archaeological Institute
José de la Torre was also passionate about archeology. He nurtured this passion from his youth, and had connections with some of the most prominent archeologists of his time, such as Theodor Schulten. His dedication is clear given that he belonged to the world-renowned German Archeological Institute.
A Researcher of Repute
Protocol and record of José de la Torre on the document mentioning Cervantes as a tax collector for the Invincible Armada in Castro del Río by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
De la Torre and Cervantes
In the early 20th century, José de la Torre and his brother Antonio found a number of previously unpublished documents in the notarial archive on Cervantes' past life in Córdoba. The most distinguished Cervantes scholars would refer to him for information.
In 1912, José de La Torre y del Cerro was made a correspondent member of the Real Academia de la Historia (Spanish Royal Academy of History), and, in 1915, became a correspondent of the Real Academia de Ciencias, Buenas Letras y Nobles Artes (Spanish Royal Academy of Science, Literature and Fine Arts). He remained an active member throughout his life, and was made a full Academy member in 1922.
His opening speech in the solemn ceremony, entitled La familia de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Apuntes genealógicos y biográficos fundamentados en documentos cordobeses (The family of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Genealogical and biographical notes from Cordoban resources), was on the topic of the author of Don Quixote.
Letter from Cervantes scholar, Luis Astrana Marín, asking De la Torre for a multitude of information on the Cervantes of Cordoba (1940-02-23) by Luis Astrana MarínAndalusian Archives
The Cervantes scholar Luis Astrana Marín remarked that "…in 1923, José de la Torre y del Cerro, that incredibly learned Cervantes scholar, illustrious historian and great paleographer, brought to light a volume of unpublished Cervantes documents[…]." In a short foreword, Mr de la Torre stated that in the early summer of 1911, he and his brother Antonio began researching Beatriz Enríquez de Arana and Christopher Columbus, the father of her son Ferdinand, in the notarial archive, going on to say that, "we then found the oldest known documents on the Cervantes family from Córdoba, including two relating to the bachelor Rodrigo de Cervantes, the great-grandfather of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra."
Deed issued by Don Luis de Góngora (1626) by Bartolomé TerceroAndalusian Archives
De la Torre and Góngora
In 1923, José de la Torre and three other members of the Royal Academy of Science, Literature and Fine Arts of Córdoba were tasked with organizing the tricentennial celebrations of the death of Baroque poet Luis de Góngora. De la Torre's immersive research on notarial protocols lasted until 1927.
The image shows a deed issued by Luis de Góngora, HM Chaplain, granting works, "both in poetry and prose," to his nephew Luis de Saavedra y Góngora, a canon of the Holy Church. He had drawn them up for him to print and use.
Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561–1627). The birth of a generation by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
De la Torre's research culminated in an article, published in Diario Córdoba (Córdoba Daily), which—according to Spanish philologist Amelia de Paz—“combined information from 15th century regional censuses with notarial documentation relating to several of Góngora's maternal ancestors. This provided evidence that strongly disputed the traditional thinking that the Góngora ancestral home was located on the current Calle de Tomás Conde in Córdoba's Jewish quarter."
The second article, published in 1927, was entitled "Documentos gongorinos" (Documents on Góngora) and appeared in the Royal Academy of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts of Córdoba newsletter. "In this newsletter, José de la Torre transcribed one hundred written documents relating to Góngora and his family, and claimed to have found one thousand more. It was the largest collection of documents on Góngora ever published."
Handwritten letter by Dámaso Alonso by Dámaso AlonsoAndalusian Archives
De la Torre and Dámaso Alonso
The everlasting refrain: "Great connoisseur of this Cordoban period, could you give me some information? It would be greatly appreciated" is an example of "the preserved correspondence between José de la Torre and [the Spanish philologist] Dámaso Alonso" which, as Amelia de Paz continues to point out, "is testament to how much de la Torre helped Dámaso with a number of his works. José de la Torre: the tireless provider for needy scholars."
The photo shows a reproduction of Dámaso Alonso's letter to de la Torre, requesting information on the 16th-century Cordoban poet José Pérez Rivas.
"Una gesta cordobesa. El descubrimiento y la conquista del Nuevo Reino de Granada" (A Cordoban feat. The discovery and conquest of the New Kingdom of Granada) (1935-10-26) by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
Cordobans in America
Archivist José de la Torre's works on Cordobans who went to America show his commendable commitment to the subject, Cordobeses que intervinieron en el descubrimiento, conquista y colonización del Perú (Cordobans in the Discovery, Conquest and Colonization of Peru) (Córdoba, 1933), El inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Estudio y documentos ('El Inca' Garcilaso de la Vega. Study and Documents) (Madrid, 1935), Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (Bogotá, 1936), Una gesta cordobesa. El descubrimiento y la conquista del Nuevo Reino de Granada (A Cordoban Feat. The Discovery and Conquest of the New Kingdom of Granada) (Córdoba, 1935), Los fundadores de las Córdobas de América (The Founders of the American Córdobas) (Córdoba, 1944), Don Lope de Sosa (Córdoba, 1944), Hernán Gómez de Castillejo (Bogotá, 1947), La familia del Adelantado Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. Biografía, árboles genealógicos (The Family of Governor Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. Biography and Family Trees), and 160 unpublished documents that he is known to have sent to Bogotá.
The photo shows de la Torre's lecture from October 26, 1935: A Cordoban Feat. The Discovery and Conquest of the New Kingdom of Granada, given at the beginning of the academic year at the Academy of Science, Literature and Fine Arts of Córdoba.
Press cutting on the book “The Life and Times of Garcilaso”. De la Torre family by Familia De la TorreAndalusian Archives
De la Torre and Garcilaso
The photo shows a press cutting on John and Jeannette Varner's book El Inca: The Life and Times of Garcilaso. The couple used the archives of Córdoba and Montilla as a source of knowledge for more than 15 years, with José de la Torre y del Cerro's invaluable help, and dedicated the book to him.
"Bringing the research in Córdoba to a close in 1935," explains Peruvian diplomat Raúl Porras Barrenechea, “José de la Torre y del Cerro presented a sizeable set of documents at the Congress of Americanists in Seville. They had been dug out from among cathedral documents and protocols in Córdoba, and related to the as yet undocumented, but frequently pondered, period of 'El Inca' Garcilaso's life in Córdoba between 1591 and 1616. De la Torre y del Cerro included the documents discovered by Ramírez de Arellano in his collection, and added 120 further documents, among notarial and parish deeds."
Sale of the chapel and an arch of Cordoba Cathedral (1597) by Gonzalo Fernández de CórdobaAndalusian Archives
Garcilaso de la Vega was responsible for creating the Chapel of the Holy Souls in Purgatory in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, and his body rested there from April 1616 onwards. This fact, along with many more, appeared in de la Torre's book, El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega-Nueva documentación, which compiled all the deeds relating to Garcilaso's life. The archivist thus enabled a better understanding of the last 25 years of Garcilaso's life, spent in Córdoba.
The image shows the sale by the Bishop of Córdoba, Friar Diego de Mardones, of the chapel and an arch of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba to Garcilaso de la Vega.
Silver medal from the City of Bogota (1848) by Familia De la TorreAndalusian Archives
Silver medal of the city of Bogotá
The archivist José de la Torre y del Cerro's research gained him great recognition in America, with countries like Peru and Colombia paying homage to him. “The renowned Cordoban researcher's commitment to Americanism reached its peak," according to José Cosano, Director of the Real Academia de Córdoba (Royal Academy of Córdoba), "when, toward the end of August 1951, he was invited to participate in the Primer Congreso Internacional de Peruanistas (First International Congress of Scholars on Peru). This was to commemorate the fourth centennial of the creation of the Universidad Decana de América (Dean University of the Americas): the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (National University of San Marcos)."
In 1948, de la Torre was awarded Bogotá's silver medal for his research about the founder, Lawyer Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. The photo shows a press cutting from the time, with an image from the medal presentation.
First research notes on Columbus by José de la Torre y del CerroAndalusian Archives
De la Torre and Christopher Columbus
In his work, The Family of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, de la Torre wrote: “In the early summer of 1911, we, my brother Antonio and the person who has the honor of addressing you now, began to research Beatriz Enríquez de Arana and Christopher Columbus, the father of her son Ferdinand. We then found the oldest known documents on the Cervantes family from Córdoba."
The photo shows the initial notes on the research on Columbus, which read, “Beatriz Enríquez in a shirt, Christopher Columbus in a nightgown. A history of their relationship by José de la Torre y del Cerro: A researcher of unimportant things."
Donation by Hernando Columbus (1525-08-07) by Hernán Sánchez TrujilloAndalusian Archives
As María del Mar Ibáñez explains, José de la Torre y del Cerro “uses historical documents to reconstruct the personality of Beatriz, born in the village of Santa María de Trassierra, and her family, their friends, and the relationship between the maiden from Córdoba and the visionary explorer. It is now 1485, when the Genovese explorer arrived in Córdoba, and where the the Royal Court now resides; Columbus recreated it in the apothecary of his compatriot, Leonardo de Esbarrova, on the corner of Alfonso XIII Street and María Cristina Street. Inquisitive intellectuals would meet there, and he undoubtedly met Beatriz's relatives there, too. The author inspects other situations, including Columbus's friends from Córdoba who joined him on his American adventure, and Ferdinand Columbus's relationship with his mother."
The picture shows a gift from Ferdinand Columbus, Christopher's son in Córdoba, to his cousin Pedro de Arana, donating the real estate in Santa María de Trassierra he had inherited from his mother Beatriz Enríquez de Arana.
The Wonderful World of a Cordoban Archivist
Ministry of Culture of the Regional Government of Andalusia.
Curated by: María del Mar Ibáñez Camacho y Ana María Chacón Sánchez Molina
Text: María del Mar Ibáñez Camacho y Ana María Chacón Sánchez Molina
Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba.
Photographs: Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba.