There was not much in the process of Peruvian independence about which Peruvians may be proud. Nonetheless, the sesquicentennial date for independence—having run its obligatory course through Argentina, Venezuela, and other republics with more heroic roles in the Independence era—has finally reached Peru. Some sort of commemorative publication was inevitable. The current military government, no doubt anxious to find nationalism-evoking symbols wherever it may, has lent its support to a very substantial undertaking, certainly if measured by volume. The Comisión Nacional del Sesquicentenario de la Independencia del Perú has now published a large portion of a mammoth documentary collection, of which most of the 30 tomes contain multiple volumes. In order to include the most heroic aspects of the Peruvian independence period, the collection reaches back to the rebellion of Túpac Amaru. The departure of General San Martín after installing the Congress of September 20, 1822 marks the terminal point of the collection; the Bolivarian intrusion apparently will not be celebrated.
A good deal of the material printed here has been published previously. Nevertheless, the collection conveniently brings it together and places it alongside more marginal documents not previously published. Each of the volumes has a special editor, selected principally from the “Establishment” of Peruvian historia patria. The quality of the editing varies considerably.
One of the most industrious and helpful editing jobs was done by Ella Dunbar Temple, who was responsible for Tome III, Conspiraciones y rebeliones en el siglo XIX, and Tome V, La acción patriótica del pueblo en la emancipación. Guerrillas y montoneras (2 volumes). In both cases she draws together widely dispersed documents from various archives, including the Lilly Library of Indiana University and, in the second case, Argentine collections, as well as from Peruvian ones. Her introductions provide guides to the sources, their locations, and discrepancies in identification, as well as brief summaries of topics covered. The introduction to Tome III also discusses the significance of the documents and how they might be used for not only the history of the rebellion of 1812 but also in more general economic and social history, historical geography, and linguistics. Unfortunately the two volumes of Tome V are organized chronologically rather than by region, which makes them unnecessarily difficult to use.
Some of the tomes simply represent selections of useful but already published materials. This is the case with Tome VIII, La expedición libertadora, a collection of documents previously published in Argentina, Chile, and Peru; Tome XXIV, La poesía de la emancipación; and Tome XXVI, Memorias, diarios y crónicas, though some of the latter are rare and hard to obtain. It is also true of the four volumes of Tome II, on the rebellion of Túpac Amaru. In this case, however, Carlos Daniel Valcárcel does provide a scholarly discussion of the provenience of the documents. Tome XXVII, Relaciones de viajeros (3 volumes) also offers material already in print (though some of it for the first time in Spanish). His prologue offers a useful catalogue of travellers’ accounts, including a number not incorporated in this edition, and a comparative evaluation suggesting the particular strengths of the various works. Tome XXIII consists of facsimile reproductions of contemporary periodicals such as El Peruano.
Several of the volumes present previously unpublished material. This is the case for much of Tome XXII (2 volumes so far) on Documentación oficial española, edited with a valuable introduction by Guillermo Lohmann Villena. It includes elaborate contemporary tables on military preparedness that, like some of the documents in other series, provides price and other economic data. Also in this category is Tome XIX, in several volumes, which reproduces the “Libro de Claustros” of the university of San Marcos for the years 1780-1790, the only one known to survive. Of much less utility are Tomes VI (Asuntos militares) and VII (La Marina), whose editors made no apparent effort at selection and offer little editorial guidance. Of greater utility is Tome XX (La Iglesia), which provides previously unpublished comments from the Junta Eclesiástica de Purificación (1821-24), organized alphabetically by surname. This is a good source on patriotism among the clergy. Tome XXI, Asuntos económicos, consists of one volume of reports from the Tribunal del Consulado, selected principally from two volumes in the Archivo Histórico of the Ministerio de Hacienda.
While these volumes are very uneven in quality, they certainly will be of interest to university libraries-both those now building new collections and those that already have the more important printed documents but strive for completeness.