Peru History

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Effective family research requires some understanding of the historical events that may have affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. These events may have led to the creation of records, such as land and military documents, that mention your family.

Your ancestors’ history will become more interesting to you if you also learn about the events in which they may have participated. For example, by using a history you might learn about the events that occurred in the year your great-grandparents were married.


  • 1524 The Supreme Council of the West Indies was created.
  • 1532 The Spanish conquered Peru.
  • 1535 Lima was founded by Pizarro. The colonial governor was established.
  • 1538 The earliest existing parish registers began.
  • 1551 Dominican friars founded the University of San Marcos at Lima. The Council of Lima set rules for record keeping.
  • 1564 A papal bull required the keeping of parish registers.
  • 1568 The Jesuits arrived in Peru.
  • 1570 The Court of Holy Office of the Inquisition was founded in Lima.
  • 1718 The smallpox epidemic struck Peru.
  • 1798 Chile attained complete autonomy.
  • 1821 Peru declared independence from Spain, but it was not until 1826 that the Spanish Royal forces were finally defeated. The Department of Lima was created.
  • 1822 The old districts (partidos) became provinces (provincias), and almost all the parishes (parroquias) became districts (distritos). Today, Peru is divided into departments, provinces, and districts.

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




Books with film numbers can be ordered through local family history centers. Some may be found in major research libraries. The following are only a few of the many historical sources that are available:

  • Alisky, Marvin. Historical Dictionary of Peru. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979. (FHL book 985 H26a.)
  • Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Peru. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947. (FHL book 985 H2p; film number 0908188 items 1–2.)


Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. They describe the settlement of an 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 your ancestor. A local history may also provide clues for finding other records to search.

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

The Family History Library has some local histories for towns in Peru. Similar histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives.

A helpful bibliography of local histories is:

  • Valle Goicochea, Luis. Bibliografía de obras y artículos por M.R.P. Fr. Victor M. Barriga (Bibliography of the Works and Articles of Victor M. Barriga). Arequipa, Perú: [s.n.], 1947. (FHL book 985 A1 no.4.)

Bibliographies can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:





Calendar Changes

The Gregorian calendar, the calendar in common use today, is a correction of the Julian calendar, which had been in use 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 4 October 1582 would become 15 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. Peru accepted the new calendar in 1584.

Wiki articlse describing online collections are found at: