Sources and Methods
Most of the source materials for this study derive from the central valley of
Chile, a geographically and culturally coherent area that forms the middle
third of present-day Chile (see map, introduction). I adopted this focus in the
supposition that family and kinship, class structures, and the state manifested
themselves in very di√erent ways in the mining communities of the north and
the frontier regions of the south. A disproportionate share of my material is
drawn from Santiago, Valparaíso, and San Felipe, a rural department some
ninety kilometers north of Santiago. This reflects the availability of documen-
tation as well as a conscious attempt to include both urban and rural areas
within my frame of investigation.∞ The bibliography provides a full list of the
judicial and notarial archives consulted.
Judicial Sources
The historiography of gender, family, and more recently children in Latin
America has profited from an incredibly rich heritage of judicial records. This
study draws on a corpus of more than 1,000 judicial cases from civil and
criminal, secular and ecclesiastical courts. These include some 550 cases found
in the judicial archives of some sixteen di√erent locales, as well as a small
sample of 32 cases from the ecclesiastical court of Santiago. It also includes
450 cases excerpted and summarized in two jurisprudential publications, the
Gaceta de los Tribunales (published continuously from 1841) and the Revista
de Derecho y Jurisprudencia (published from 1903). I also consulted a dozen
published filiation suits (such as the one Secundino Alvarez filed against his
Because I reviewed a very wide range of judicial cases over an eighty-year
period—including custody disputes, child support cases, legitimation and rec-
ognition proceedings, as well as cases of abuse, insults, seduction, bigamy,
infanticide, and theft—my source materials did not lend themselves in any
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