A reception fundraiser for a massive project aimed at preserving the archival documents of Guerrero Viejo is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at Texas A&M International University's Great Room of the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library.
The Guerrero Viejo (Old Guerrero) Archives Project, which will operate at A&M International in cooperation with the government of Ciudad Guerrero Nuevo (New Guerrero City), Tamaulipas, Mexico, seeks to convert approximately 250,000 archival documents that date back 250 years to microfilm and eventual CD-ROM storage. Both entities have signed an agreement to bring the project to fruition.
Dr. Carlos E. Cuéllar, A&M International assistant professor of history, has worked with other Laredoans and Guerreroans to inventory the archival collection in Ciudad Guerrero Nuevo.
He said the Archives Project will require about $92,000 to microfilm and digitize the documents that date from 1750 forward.
"The documents are a treasure house of information for anyone interested in the Spanish Colonial era of history and they are especially valuable for those who have ties to Guerrero Viejo," Dr. Cuéllar said, adding that he has worked over the last 18 months with María del Carmen Carvajal González of Ciudad Guerrero Nuevo; Cactus Land Company president Tom Elmore; Dr. Stanley C. Green, A&M International professor of history; and Rodney Webb, A&M International Library Services director, to give the project form.
The University officially took on the project early this year, creating a management team that includes Cuéllar, Webb, and A&M International special collections librarian Renée LaPerrière de Gutiérrez. Dr. Green serves as internal advisor to the team.
"Mexican officials, including Dr. Rafael Contreras, the mayor of Ciudad Guerrero Nuevo, have enthusiastically supported the project and are looking forward to beginning the work," Cuéllar said.
Cuéllar said the project will benefit everyone interested in the history of what is an ancestral home of many Laredo families.
Guerrero Viejo, founded in 1750, became a ghost town after a 1953-54 flood resulting from the building of Falcon Dam forced its residents to settle in Ciudad Guerrero Nuevo, he explained. He added that the timing of the archival project initiation is significant since this year marks the 250th anniversary of Guerrero Viejo.
"The ultimate goals of the project are first to save the archives, many of which are on 250-year-old paper, and then to have them available in CD format to share with the City of Guerrero Nuevo and others interested in the history of this region," said Cuéllar, whose own ancestors were settlers of Guerrero Viejo. "There are documents in the Guerrero archives that bear the signature of José de Escandón as well as that of Col. Antonio Zapata of the Republic of the Río Grande," he noted.
Cuéllar said most of the cost required for the project is for microfilm and computer equipment.
"We are urging those who have ties to the beautiful old city that was Guerrero Viejo to be part of the Guerrero Archives Project," he said.
For further information on the Guerrero Archives Project, please contact Dr. Cuéllar at 326-2626. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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