Like many Guatemalan documents referred to by scholars in the past, the Libros Segundo y Tercero del Cabildo de Guatemala (Books Two and Three of the City Council of Santiago de Guatemala) have long been thought to be missing, thereby removing from consultation key sources concerning the events and circumstances of the early colonial period. It turns out that these two tomes, which span the years between 1530 and 1553, are not missing and have been part of the holdings of the Hispanic Society of America for the past century. We discuss how other documentary treasures were taken from Guatemala or disappeared from circulation altogether, identifying the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the period during which national patrimony was most under threat from both internal and external forces.


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