25 February 2008

Inquisition records at Notre Dame

For those interested in the Inquisition and the tragedy of its impact on Sephardim and the Sephardic Diaspora, here is a collection of primary resource material.

Although in force in Spain in the 14th century, it was not until the late 15th century with the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand that the Inquisition evolved into a tool to promote racial purity and Catholic orthodoxy. Its activities lasted into the 19th century in some places.

Notre Dame University purchased The Inquisition Collection in November 1996 from Libreria José Porrua Turanzas in Madrid, Spain, through an estate gift of Harley L. McDevitt. It is a significant collection (565 items) of books and manuscripts on the activities and history of the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal and the New World.

More than 550 items are in the collection, assembled over many years by Porrua Turanzas' late father, who enlarged the collection acquired from earlier Spanish collector Anastasio Páramo.

The collection - with many 15th century items - includes inquisitor's manuals, indices of prohibited and expurgated books, descriptions of autos-da-fé, records of inquisitorial tribunals, certificates of familiars, engravings and other artwork, early commentaries and histories of the inquisitions, modern secondary works and critical studies of the inquisitions.

Collection highlights are in an online exhibit including a searchable database with information on individual items and instructions on downloading an the inventory-catalog.

The website is easy to navigate, with arrows on the bottom of each page, and a table of contents in the left column. Click the search button for the online searchable database. Bear in mind that documents illustrated are in Spanish and Latin.

Go through the collection from here. See the collection index here.

There are other well-known Inquisition collections at the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University.


  1. Good afternoon from Medellín, COLOMBIA.
    Thank you very much for your information about Inquisition. I´m a descendant of Sephardites. They came here around 1750 but like "marranos" because they were working with the Spaniard Crown.
    My congratulation for that great information.
    Jorge N Robles Olarte
    My blog it´s :roblesolarte.blogspot.com

  2. Hello, Jorge,

    Welcome to Tracing the Tribe, and thank you for writing. I am always happy when readers find information they consider valuable.

    My personal research includes pre-Expulsion families, so I have an interest in Sephardim and post frequently on relevant topics.