The Archive of La Hermandad de la Macarena was created at the very moment of the entity’s foundation in 1595 to handle the generation, dispatch and reception of documents related to corporate life and to fulfil the need to safeguard and conserve the Brotherhood’s registers and account books. The creation of the Archive was prescribed, together with the role of the Brotherhood’s escribano (clerk), in the institution’s founding charter, specifically in:
Chap. III, on the books which should be held in our Brotherhood. Three books were established “for the good order of the Brotherhood and confraternity”. One would contain a list of members, and the date of their admission. This list also included brothers “who were excluded” from the Brotherhood, and the reasons for their exclusion. A second book recorded all the “legacies, bequeathments, donations and alms given and sent” to the Brotherhood with the name of the donor and the date each donation was made. At the end of this book there was a list of all deceased members and benefactors, “that their memory might remain and that they might be commended to God”. Finally, there was a book of agreements, which recorded all decisions taken in “cabildos (councils) and town halls”, dated and signed by the escribano, and also any sanctions imposed on members.
Chap. XI, on the Brotherhood’s coffer and archive. It was established that there should be a coffer in San Basilio where the wax seal and the book with the list of brothers would be kept. The key would be held by the Prioste (chief steward). The other two books that the Brotherhood had to keep would also be kept in the Colegio de San Basilio, together with documents and alms, in an archive locked with three keys. These would be held by the Prioste, the Mayordomo (steward) and the Escribano, who would all have to be present every time it was opened, “and if any of them could not be present he should give the key to another Brother, that he may stand in for him“.
Most of the archive’s holdings are written documents (there are about 300 filing boxes, or bundles of papers) corresponding to the period from 1595 to 2010. The content is very varied, although there is an abundance of documentation concerning the institution’s day to day work and duties. There are many documents from the Mayordomo’s and Secretary’s offices (the Secretary’s office was originally known as the Escribanía), including account books, charge and discharge books, contracts, the register of Brothers, inventories, Rules, title deeds, law suits, indulgences, correspondence, etc.
There is also a lot of material related to the universal dimension of the devotion to La Virgen de la Esperanza and the different brotherhoods and confraternities that have been founded in Her honour both throughout Spain and in other countries. This underlines the importance of the information contained in these documents not only at national level but also in an international context.
The Archive also conserves a great deal of graphic material. There is a large collection of photographs of the Brotherhood’s ceremonies and processions and numerous pictorial records of visits by world famous figures, especially heads of state and Prime Ministers from many different countries, and particularly from South America.
Other holdings include original artistic designs, posters, announcements of meetings and news-sheets of La Hermandad de la Macarena and of other institutions. There is also a small press and bibliographical reference section.
The work of the Archive team
Since 2004 the Archive staffs has been working to improve the cataloguing and conservation of the Archive’s documentary resources. Two large work groups have been set up: the Classification and Cataloguing Team and the Digitalization Team. Essentially, the Archive’s holdings are being organized according to a classification chart, catalogued using systemized indexes and stored under conditions suitable for their conservation. Written documents are being digitalized for conservation in electronic formats.
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