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Mexican Incunabula 1559 1600 at the Latin Amercian Library Tulane University Digital Library

The first printing press in the New World was established in Mexico City in 1539. These early imprints consisted primarily of grammars and vocabularies of native Indian languages, as well as instructional religious tracts, because printing during the Christianization of Indian populations was conceived by the Spaniards as a tool for missionaries. Mexican Incunabula at the Latin American Library (1559-1600) provides digital copies in PDF format of some of the earliest products of Mexican printing presses (1539-1600). In addition to making available some of the earliest imprints produced in the New World, this collection provides important and rare sources for the study of the first phases of the Spanish enterprise in the New World, as well as initial forms of encounter between Native Americans and Europeans. These works also provide valuable insights into native languages and cultures during the first decades of contact. Early Mexican imprints are quite rare. Of the 220 identified titles, only 136 are known to reside in institutions around the world. The Latin American Library stores nine of these unique titles. The total number of pages is approximately 2,600. The texts are in Spanish, Purépecha and Nahuatl.

The Mexican Incunabula at the Latin American Library (1559-1600) collection represents the Latin American Library’s contribution to a larger project called Impresos Mexicanos del Siglo XVI initiated by a small group of institutions in the United States and Mexico. The goal of the project is to create an on-line digital collection of early Mexican imprints that will include at least one copy of the existing 136 titles and as many additional versions of each as possible. The Primeros Libros de las Américas collection available at http://www.primeroslibros.org continues to grow as well when partner institutions join the project.