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Monday, November 14, 2016

1493 Edition of the Letters of Christopher Columbus

The Princeton University Digital Library has online copies of the original 1493 edition of Columbus' letters. These books are described as follows:
Columbus’s description of his first voyage first appeared in print in a Spanish edition published in Barcelona in 1493. Within four years it had gone through fifteen known editions, including seven Latin editions, one German edition, a paraphrase in Italian verse in five editions, and a second Spanish edition, Valladolid, about 1497. These fifteen different editions were products of presses scattered in ten cities across Europe. Of these fifteen editions, there is at Princeton an exemplar for three of the seven Latin editions and an exemplar of the German edition. The most direct manner of listing these is the number assigned in F.R. Goff, Incunabula in American Libraries (1964): • C-758. Latin. [Rome: Stephan Plannck, after 29 April 1493]. Cyrus McCormick copy, presented to PUL. • C-759. Latin. Rome: Eucharius Silber, [after 29 April] 1493. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL and the Scheide Library copy • V-125. Latin. [Basel:] I.B. [Johann Bergmann, de Olpe] 1494. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL. • C-762. German. Strassburg: Bartholomaeus Kistler, 30 Sept. 1497. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL. REFERENCE: W. Eames, "Columbus' Letter on the Discovery of America (1493-1497)" in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 1924, 28:597-599. (NB: Eames lists seventeen editions; however, the number is actually fifteen because Eames was unaware that three issued by Marchant in Paris were variants of one edition.)
An English edition of the letters is available online originally published by the Harvard Classics. See

“The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery. 1909-14. American Historical Documents, 1000-1904. The Harvard Classics.” Accessed November 14, 2016.

Now, what does this have to do with genealogy? Well, it is time that we start realizing that there are an almost endless number of sources for important documents and records. Genealogists are mostly focused on "genealogy sources" when in actuality, genealogy is history and historical documents can be found all over the world and many of these documents are being digitized by websites that have absolutely nothing to do with "genealogy." You will never know what you might find until you start looking.

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