Philippine History


To complement his extensive collection of Spanish and American Indian language manuscripts documenting the early contacts of Europeans with the native peoples of the Americas, Edward E. Ayer (1841-1927) began buying materials on the Philippines in 1898 when he first learned that the United States had acquired the islands from Spain under the terms of the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War. Initially, the core of the collection consisted of items previously owned by the Compañia General de Tabacos in their Barcelona library, which Ayer obtained through the efforts of Madrid bookseller Pedro Vindel, although purchases and gifts over the years have substantially expanded the holdings.

In the range of its holdings, the depth of its coverage, and the presence of some very unusual items, the Newberry’s Philippine collection provides a wealth of materials with which to explore both Philippine and American history. Also included are five volumes of documents from 1578 to 1792 on Philippine history and politics, transcribed by Ventura del Arco in the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid between 1859 and 1865.

The collection is particularly strong in these areas:

Late Spanish period: The Newberry has a large number of manuscripts and publications from the Spanish period in the Philippines, in particular chronicles from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There is also a great deal of material on the nineteenth-century relationship between Spain and the Philippines.

Filipino nationalism and revolution: The Newberry also contains important material treating the origins of Filipino nationalism (for instance, the José Rizal papers). Likewise, materials documenting the Philippine Revolution against Spain are held in abundance.

Philippine-American War and US government: The collection is rich in materials that emerged from what was commonly referred to as the “Philippine insurrection.” The vast majority of printed source materials on the colonial government in the Philippines take the form of reports, bulletins, and circulars from American Civil Government.

8,000 early twentieth Century ethnographic photographs (see Dean C. Worcester Collection of Philippine photographs link in the Highlights from the Newberry Library Collections section below)

Philippine linguistics (from Bicol and Bisaya to Tagalog and Zambala, primarily religious texts, grammar books, and vocabularies; of special interest are the 32 “corridos,” metrical romances introduced by the Spanish, based on European fantasies and legends)

Travel literature and maps of the islands

To find books within the Edward E. Ayer collection on American Indian topics or related to the Philippine material in our collection, you can search by Subject in our catalog using some of the following headings:

  • Philippines
  • Philippines – Antiquities
  • Manila Bay, Battle of, Philippines, 1898
  • Manila (Philippines)
  • Manila (Philippines) – Commerce
  • Manila (Philippines) – Directories

*You may also search by title or author, if either of these is known.

Finding aids for Ayer collection manuscripts:

  • Full catalog records with name and subject access are included in the Newberry Library’s online catalog and OCLC’s WorldCat.
  • Brief citations for manuscripts acquired before 1937 are included in A Check List of Manuscripts in the Edward E. Ayer Collection compiled by Ruth Lapham Butler (Chicago: Newberry Library, 1937).
  • Manuscript collections dating from 1700 and containing five or more items are listed both by author and primary subject in the Newberry’s American Modern Manuscript Collections, 1700-present. Physical inventories for selected manuscript collections are also available in the Library.

For an overview of most, but not all, of the Philippine manuscript holdings, researchers may wish to consult the following publications:

Butler, Ruth Lapham. The Filipiniana of the Ayer Collections: The Rizaliana. Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, 1962. 386-395. Proceedings of the International Congress on Rizal. (Publications of the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, vol. XII, December 4-8, 1961). Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 5A 447.

Welsh, Doris Varner, comp. Checklist of Philippine Linguistics in the Newberry Library. Chicago, 1950. Location: Local & Family History Reference 2nd floor. Call number: Ref Z7101.P5 N4 1950. (Other copies available.)

Welsh, Doris Varner, comp. A Catalog of Printed Materials Relating to the Philippine Islands, 1519-1900: In the Newberry Library. Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1959. Location: Reference 3rd floor and Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ref Z3299.N4 1959 and Ayer 290 N43 1959.

Lietz, Paul S., ed. Calendar of Philippine Documents in the Ayer Collection of the Newberry Library. Chicago: Newberry Library, 1956. Location: Local & Family History Reference 2nd floor and General Collection 2nd floor. Call number: Ref CD3209.C5 N4 1956 and CD3209 .C5 N4 1956a.

Lietz, Paul S. and Eliodoro G. Robles, eds. Supplement to the Calendar of Philippine documents in the Ayer collection. Chicago: Newberry Library, 1958. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 290 .L6128 1956 suppl. and Ayer 290 .L6128 1956a suppl.

More reference resources can be found here.

Read John Phelan’s 1955 article in the Newberry Bulletin on Edward Ayer’s Philippine Collection.

Pargellis, Stanley. “The Problem of American Indian History.” The Newberry Library Bulletin 4.5 (1957): 129-138.

Read about the modest beginnings of this great collection in Edward E. Ayer’s “How I Bought My First Book.

Below are highlights from the Philippine material within the Edward E. Ayer collection:

Roxas y Mello, Esteban de. El Moyses verdadero, en redemptor del israelitico pveblo … en la vida, y mverte, acciones illvstres … del … fr. Joan Angel Rodrigvez. [Sampaloc: Impressas en el Covẽto de Nr̃a. S. de Loreto, 1743]. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer 2141 .R88 1743.

Rizal, José. Clinica medica [manuscript]. 1881-1887. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1418.

Rizal, José. Agenda de bufete o libro de memoria [manuscript]: diario para 1884 con noticias y guia de Madrid. 1884. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1417.

Rizal, José. Mi último pensamiento. [Hongkong?, 1897?]. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Broadside Ayer 2286 .R62m 1897.

Domingo, Damián. Colección de trages de Manila tanto antiguos como modernos, de toda clase de yndias/dispuesta por D. Rafael Daniel Babon y dibujado p[o]r D. Damián Domingo, director de la Academia de Dibujo de la R[ea]l Sociedad de Man[il]a. [Between 1827 and 1832]. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT oversize Ayer Art Domingo.

Murillo Velarde, Pedro. Carta hydrographica y chorographica de las Yslas Filipanas…/hecho pr. el Pe. Pedro Murillo Velarde atta. Compa. d. Ihs. Cathco. d. Canones sobre los mapas; le esculpio Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay Indio Tagalo en Manla. año 1734. En Manila: año de 1734, 1734. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: map4F G8060 1734 .V4.

Aguinaldo, Emilio. Proclamation of the intrepid Philippine leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, to his nation and all lovers of liberty throughout the world. [Manila?, 1897]. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: broadside Ayer 2114 .A28 1897e.

Gaspar de San Agustín, fray. Conquistas de las Islas Philipinas: la temporal, por las armas del Señor Don Phelipe Segundo el Prudente : y la espiritual, por les religiosos del Orden de nuestro padre San Augustin: fundacion, y progressos de su provincia del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus: parte primera … / escriuiala el padre Fray Gaspar de San Augustin … Procurador General de dicha Provincia … En Madrid: En la Imprenta de Manuel Ruiz de Murga, Año de 1698. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer 2058 .G24 1698.

Morga, Antonio de. Sucesos de las Islas filipinas. Dirigido a don Cristoval Gomez de Sandoual y Rojas, duque de Cea. Por el doctor Antonio de Morga, alcalde del crimen, de la real Audiencia de la Nueua España, consultor del santo Oficio de la inquisicion. En Mexico: En casa de Geronymo Balli, Por Cornelio Adriano Cesar, Año 1609. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer 2058 .M84 1609.

Dean C. Worcester Collection of Philippine photographs. *Please consult Index to Philippine Photographs. Manila, 1905. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 290 .A983 1905.

Evangelina E. Lewis Collection of Postcards of the Philippine Islands

Below are some highlights from our archival collections on Philippine material within the Edward E. Ayer collection at the Newberry Library:

Rizal, José. Letters [manuscript]: to Dr. A.B. Meyer, Dresden, 1888 Dec. 6-1895 March 14. Letters written by José Rizal from London, Paris, Brussels, and Dapitan (Philippines) to Dr. A.B. Meyer in Dresden, between Dec. 6, 1888 and March 14, 1895, concerning linguistic and zoological matters. In letters from London from Dec. 6, 1888-Jan. 7, 1889, Rizal responds to Meyer’s queries concerning the interpretation of the Chinese names of the islands of the Philippines as they appear in the English translation of an early ms., possibly Rev. Samuel Lee’s translation of the Travels of Ibn Batuta. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1420.

Moore, Carl M. Sulu Archipelago, Philippine Islands [manuscript]: History, Resources and Native People: Volume V, Part I. Comprehensive description of the history, resources, and native peoples of the Sulu Archipelago, from the time of the Hindu and Arab missionaries of the 13th century to the 1920s, during the early years of the American military government. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1953.

Anda y Salazar, Simón de. Apolinario de la Cruz: relación en que se da cuenta de haber estallado la conspiracion de Apolinario en Tayabas. 1841. Official report by Juan Manuel de la Matta, intendant in the Department of the Army and Treasury of the Philippines, dated Nov. 16, 1841 in Manila, directed to the head of the Spanish Secretariat of State and Treasury for the Indies, informing him that the revolt led by Apolinario de la Cruz in Tayabas has been suppressed and the leaders punished. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1373.

Papers pertaining to Simón de Anda y Salazar, His Family, and His Activities as Governor of the Philippines, 1738 Nov. 3-1798 Jan. 1 (bulk 1763-1770). Edicts, appointments, wills, powers of attorney, family and financial papers, and historical summaries from 1738-1798. Anda’s appointments as oidor in the Audiencia of Manila, judge-inspector, and governor of the Philippines date from 1755 and 1764. There are 2 copies, with seal, of the cédula of Charles III naming Anda to the Consejo de Castilla. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1921.

Documents pertaining to Prisoners in Bilibid Prison in Manila [manuscript] 1883 Oct. 18-1899 Aug. 2 (bulk 1897). Documents, dated from Oct. 18, 1883 to Aug. 2, 1899, pertaining to prisoners being held at Bilibid Prison in Manila. Many of the items, addressed to the chief warden Manuel García, are orders of incarceration for criminal prisoners, as well as for those arrested for their political involvement in the Philippine revolution. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1393.

Documents pertaining to the Philippine Revolution [manuscript] 1898 Aug. 27-1899 Feb. 11. Official communications and orders, dating from Nov. 1898 to Feb. 1899, dealing with prisoners of war held by the rebels and other military matters of the Philippine Army, such as commissions and troop discipline. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT box Ayer MS 1920.

Edward E. Ayer Digital Collection

The Edward E. Ayer Digital Collection features several thousand digitized images and texts selected from the Newberry’s Ayer Collection, one of the strongest on American Indians in the world.

Daniel Burnham in the Philippines

In the winter of 1904-1905, Daniel Burnham, the Chicago architect and future co-author of the Plan of Chicago, traveled to the Philippines. He had won a commission from the United States government to develop a new city plan for Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and to design a completely new “summer capital,” Baguio City, 155 miles north of Manila and 5,000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Luzon. Featuring maps, manuscripts, and ephemera, this online exhibition documents Burnham’s successful trip to reshape the Philippines. (Physical material related to the city planning of Manila and Baguio can also be found in the William Edward Parsons Papers.)

Have a Question?

Our librarians are here to help you get the most out of your research.

Submit Your Question