Chile History

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1520 Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to sight Chilean shores.

1536 Chile was claimed as part of the Spanish Empire.

1540 Pedro de Valdivia led a group of men into Chile. He founded Santiago in 1541.

1561–1810 Chile was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

1593The first Jesuits arrived in Chile. They were an important element in Chilean education and culture until they were expelled from Chile in 1767.

1810–1814, 1817–1818 Chile obtained independence from Spain.

1823–1839 The Federation of Central America was formed, headquartered in Guatemala. Each of the new republics left the federation by 1839.

1870–1920 Millions of immigrants from Europe and Asia settled in Latin America, including Chile, and influenced local culture and ethnic composition.

1879–1883 Chile waged the War of the Pacific against Bolivia and Peru. Chile gained the mineral-rich Atacama Desert region and occupied Lima for a few years. Bolivia lost access to the Pacific Ocean.

1883The Mapuche Indians were subdued.

1925 A new constitution reestablished presidential rule, separation of church and state, and embodied social justice codes.

The Family History Library has some published histories for Chile. You can find histories in the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:




The following are only a few of the many historical sources that are available for Chile. Some may be found in major research libraries.

  • Encina, Francisco Antonio. Historia de Chile (History of Chile.) Santiago, Chile: Editorial Nacimiento, 1955. (FHL book 983 H2em v.1–20.)
  • Encina, Francisco Antonio. Resumen de la "Historia de Chile" (Summary of the "History of Chile"). Santiago, Chile: Empresa Editora Zig-Zag, 1968–1970. (FHL book 983 H2en v.1–4.)
  • Elliot, G. F. Scott. Chile: Its History and Development, Natural Features, Products, Commerce and Present Conditions. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1907. (FHL book 983 H2e.)
  • Herring, Hubert. A History of Latin America from the Beginning to the Present. 2 ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962. (FHL book 980 H2h.)
  • James, Herman Geriach. The Republics of Latin America. Rev. ed. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1923. (FHL book 980 H2j.)

Online Histories

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating the ancestor. A local history may also give clues for finding other records to search.

Published histories of towns and provinces often contain histories of families. Some province and town histories include separate sections or volumes containing biographical information.

In addition, you should study local histories for the background information they can provide about your family’s lifestyle, community, and environment.

For some localities there may be more than one history; carefully search for available histories of your ancestor’s locality.

The Family History Library does not have many local histories for Chile. Local histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives.

Calendar Changes

The Gregorian calendar, the calendar in common use today, is a correction of the Julian calendar, which had been used since A.D. 46. Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar. By 1582, the calendar was 10 days behind the solar year.

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull, modifying the calendar to correct the problem. He declared that the day following the fourth of October in 1582 would become the fifteenth of October. Other adjustments were made in the calendar to prevent future leap year miscalculations.

Spain adopted the new system in 1582, and the Spanish territories in the New World rapidly followed Spain’s example.

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Chile, Cemetery Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)