Friday, January 28, 2011

Names, Names, Names: Confraternity Membership Lists 1527-1603

During the visit to Garganta la Olla in May 2007, I was participating in a BYU Family History Field Study with Dr. George Ryskamp and six other students. The academic purpose for our visit was to gather records for an 18th Century Study on the small, rural village of Garganta la Olla, and the role of women in that village. We spent two days in the Parish Archive, that the Priest was most gracious to let us use for examination and photographing of the records. It was an amazing experience looking at the collection of Parish Books from as far back as 500 years ago. We were actually able to handle the books and take pictures of whatever we wished.  The books were very well preserved because the climate in Garganta is quite dry. This was my first experience looking at such old records and I was very intrigued and overwhelmed by it all. It hardly seemed real.

While searching the Parish Books for anything pertinent to our studies, Confraternity  (or Cofradia in Spanish) Membership Lists were discovered from the years 1527, 1586, 1594 and 1603. These membership lists not only included the members or cofrades, but also others in the household, mainly family members. These lists pre-dated many of the Parish baptism, marriage and burial records. I was so excited to see these records. What a wonderful discovery! Each list was about fifteen to twenty pages, with anywhere from 30- 65 names on a page.

Membership List

Cofradia Books

BYU Field Study Activities - Garganta la Olla, Parish Archive
I could hardly wait to return home and have time to search and extract the names from these records. At first I wasn't sure who Dr. Ryskamp would assign to look at these records, but I knew that I had to ask if I could be involved. After all, these were my ancestors and my heritage. There was something that drew me to the records and this project. Little did I realize that 3 1/2 years later, I would still be consumed and enthralled with these records.

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