The Municipal Historical Archive of Elche is the administrative unit responsible for collecting the documents generated or gathered by the local Administration in the exercise of its activities and functions, from its origins in the Middle Ages. In addition, it preserves other funds from other people and institutions, significant for local history, through donation or deposit agreements. All this "at the service of its use for research, culture, information and administrative management" (art. 59.1 of Law 16/1985, of June 25, on Spanish Historical Heritage)
Although the Archive has been operating as such since the Middle Ages, it will not be until March 20, 1979 that the City Council creates the Municipal Historical Archive of Elche and approves its location in the old Sant Josep Hospital (confiscated Franciscan convent).
The Council's concern for the Archive is reflected from the beginning in the Order Books where the first provisions for the grouping of the funds, the arrangement and the adaptation of the premises intended for the archive are collected. We have news that the first inventory was made, in 1660, by Antonio Siuri and Gaspar Pérez de Sarrió, although the ones we have are from a later date. In 1729, the clerk Carlos Gracia wrote a memorial to the Cabildo to say that since the abolition of the furs the work in the archive had increased considerably by having to form "padrones de equivalente, sal y listas de su cobranza con muchas otras cosas", for which a few years later the first archivist of Elche was appointed: Ignacio Ruiz de Lope. The main archive was closed with three keys: "one was given to the first mayor, the other to the councilor and the third to the archivist". The archive, in addition to keeping the documents, also kept the dresses and the rest of the utensils for La Festa.
The documentation that has reached us has overcome looting, wars and municipal indifference in different eras. During the War of Succession the Chapter Houses were burned and the archive unit was destroyed. In 1837, the Forcadell Faction stormed the Town Hall, taking away its documentation.
Despite the vicissitudes, the archive is now one of the richest in the Valencian Community, undoubtedly thanks to the work of Pere Ibarra. He was hired to take charge of the archive that was suffering from conditions of abandonment, among other things because part of the documentation was sold to pay for municipal works. He also took charge of the archive of notarial protocols. He left a system of document organization that still endures.
The Archive not only collects the documentation produced by the municipal offices, but acts as a documentary heritage center and, throughout its history, has seen its holdings increase with documents from other institutions or individuals.
Most of the documentation kept in the archive is that produced by the municipal institution to which it is linked and, likewise, it is as wide and as varied as the functions it has had over time.
The oldest documents date back to the 13th century and there are series of documentation that have continued to the present day. They stand out, among the main ones: the Book of Acts (beginning in 1371), documentation on finances (since 1490), Administration of Justice, Hospital and Health, Territory and Population, Industry and Commerce, Elections...
It is difficult to be able to approach the particular value of the documents, but we can say that there are two in the archive that mark a certain importance compared to the rest. One of them is the Book of Privileges or Codex d'Elx, a book in parchment that collects the privileges given by the kings of Castile and Aragon and which served to endow the municipality with a first political-administrative organization. The other document is the Consueta of 1709 for the representation of the Mystery.
Pere Ibarra Ruiz (1858-1934) was municipal archivist. In 1891, he obtained the title of Archivist, Librarian and Antiquarian of the Escola Superior de Diplomatica. He was a tireless researcher and organized his own collection of archaeological pieces and countless documents, bought or collected from other individuals and which, after his death, went to the Municipal Historical Archive, although we cannot specify the amount. Among others, in addition to some personal documents, we can highlight the "Indices de remisiones a Cabildos y Sitiadas", which summarize all the municipal agreements from 1370 to 1923, or collections such as "Tesoro Histórico", which collects pamphlets and posters of very different content, «Papeles curiosos», «Varios» or his photo albums.
Pere Ibarra was greatly influenced by his older brother Aurelià Ibarra (1834-1890), founder of the Democratic Party in Elche, archaeologist, writer and artist. He made important archaeological discoveries that were collected in his book Illici, su situación y antigüedades. His documentation - some handwritten works, personal correspondence, the collection of political papers and also a large part of his journalistic articles collected in the collection entitled "Crónicas Ilicitanas" - became part of the collection of his brother Peter.
The documents of the Municipal Historical Archive of Elche can be consulted in the computerized catalog where we have included all the description tools we own, both ancient and contemporary. We are working on normalizing all these records and preparing related and advanced research. At the moment, documents up to 1924 are accessible from the web.
News from the Municipal Historical Archive of Elche
The techniques of the Archive on the occasion of 8-M 2023
Carmina Verdú Cano
Martina Martinez Lopez
María José Riquelme Sellés
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Placeta Santíssimo Crist de Zalamea, no. 1 - 03204 Elx (Alicante)