This collection consists of 157 sets of documents related to the Junta Provincial de Patronato de Matanzas, created in 1880 when the law of patronato (apprenticeship) was passed in Spain. The law represented a legal strategy to gradually abolish slavery in Cuba. Most of the workings of the slave system were preserved, but patrocinados, as former slaves came to be known, received a minimal set of legal rights and were to be paid a token wage. The transition to the patronato system was overseen by a provincial network of government agencies called Juntas de Patronato.
The Junta Provincial functioned as a statewide entity, and local juntas present in municipalities and cities were under the jurisdiction of the Junta Provincial and the civil governor. The records of the Junta Provincial de Patronato de Matanzas include official documents, correspondence between the local juntas and the Junta Provincial, and reports detailing numbers or names of patrocinados. The records also include files detailing cases of individual patrocinados who were trying to obtain their freedom.
Links to selected groupings that highlight themes from the collection.
Five folders in the collection refer to the case of Daniel Betancourt. He had already obtained his freedom and was trying to gain permission to marry a woman named Lugarda Hernández, who was still a patrocinada.
Four folders refer to the case of Federico Lombal, who had been taken into custody in a neighboring province after fleeing from the Ingenio Conformidad, the sugar mill where he was a laborer.
Two folders refer to a man named Isidoro Baró. His case stands out because he is the only person of Asian descent to be mentioned in the collection.
Forty-two folders in the collection represent the cases of women, some of whom were trying to navigate the legal system on behalf of their children or family members.