I the widow Catalina Vélez Rascón do hereby promise to pay to you, Diego de Villanueva, alderman of this City of los Angeles, 1,100 pesos of pure gold … for six slaves (piezas de esclavos), to wit: the Negro Lorenzo, ladino, born on the Island of Tercera (in the Azores), his wife Antonia, Negress, born in Biáfara, with a young mulatto daughter of hers named María, plus a Negro called Manuel, born in Zapa, and a Negress Catalina, born in Portugal, with a young Negro daughter of hers named Paula, making six slaves in all, all of whom were disposed of in public auction as part of the estate of Francisco Muñoz, deceased, in two lots, and were sold to my son-in-law Don Juan de Zúñiga, bidding on my behalf. … Given in this city of los Angeles on the 16th day of July in the year of the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ 1554.
The notarial archive of the Mexican city of Puebla de los Angeles, virtually complete from 1540 on, is a treasure-house of information about social and economic life in the early colony. Many of its earliest documents are, however, in deplorable physical condition, unindexed and chronologically unorganized, which makes them extremely difficult and time-consuming to consult. In order to remedy this condition and make the archive more accessible to scholars both in Mexico and elsewhere, I have indexed and extracted from microfilm the substance of over 1,600 documents executed between 1540 and 1555. These will probably appear in a two-volume collection published by the Editorial Jus in Mexico City. The documents make fascinating reading. There are wills, dowries, contracts, law-suits, partnerships, promissory notes, rentals, powers of attorney, as well as bills of sale itemizing every imaginable kind of property from real estate to livestock to produce to general merchandise.