Argentina Historical Geography
Back to Argentina
In 1776: Spain created the Viceroyalty of La Plata, made up of what is now Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile.
In 1816: Much of modern Argentina declared independence from Spain. The new country was called the United Provinces of La Plata.
In 1860: Argentina took its name. After a war with Paraguay in 1874, it obtained territory in the north. Patagonia became part of Argentina in 1881.
A good source for published historical maps is:
Randle, Patricio H.. Geografía Histórica de la Pampa anterior. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Universitaria, 1971. (FHL book 982.13 E3r.)
Some key dates and events in the history of Argentina are as follows:
1516: Spanish explorer, Juan Diaz de Solis became first European to reach Argentina discovering Rio de Plata.
1536: Spaniards founded a short-lived settlement on the bay.
Mid 1500s: Colonists from Peru come over the Andes and settled Santiago de Estero, Tucuman, and other cities.
1580: Spanish settled Buenos Aires.
Pre–1680: Colonial days – towns in the northwest grew faster than Buenos Aires.
1680: Portuguese settled trading post across Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires. Spanish get worried and start encouraging growth of Buenos Aires.
1776: Spain created one large colony from its southeastern territories in South America, calling it the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata or Viceroyalty of La Plata. It included Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and parts of Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile.
Buenos Aires was the capital of the viceroyalty. Indian population declined in northern Argentina.
Many died from diseases or were killed by Europeans. Other intermarried which created the mestizo in Argentina. Indians in the south kept control of Patagonia and most of the Pampa.
1806–7: British troops tried to seize Buenos Aires to establish a British colony, to have a foothold in the region for British trade. Local troops fought them off.
1807–8: France invaded Spain
May 1810: Buenos Aires sets up independent government to administer the Viceroyalty. The other provinces do not like it and break away.
1812: Jose de San Martin leads fight against Spain.
1816: Congress of Tucumán officially declares independence. Country became know as the United Provinces of La Plata.
1826: National assembly drew up a constitution and named Bernardino de Rivadavia from Buenos Aires as first president.
1827: Rivadavia resigns as he cannot create a strong national government.
1829–52: Juan Manuel de Rosas from the Pampa, rules as a dictator. He created a network of secret police to spy on his enemies and led violent campaigns against the Indians of the Pampa. He quarreled in his dealings with other nations.
1852: General Justo Jose de Urquiza overthrows Rosas. Delegates from all provinces except Buenos Aires met in Santa Fe to organize a national government.
1853: The constitution is proclaimed, it established a confederation of the provinces. General Justo Jose de Urquiza is elected president. Buenos Aires does not join the Confederation.
1859: Urquiza tries to get Buenos Aires to join the Confederation. He defeated the Buenos Aires army led by General Bartolome.
1860: The country takes the name of Argentina.
1861: Bartolomé Mitre defeats Justo Jose de Urquiza.
1862: Buenos Aires agrees to join the Confederation. The city of Buenos Aires becomes the nation’s capitol and Mitre becomes the president. A period of 70 years of stable government begins.
1868–74: Domingo Faustino Sarmiento becomes president. At this time Argentina experiences a period of growth by attracting European immigrants and investments, and making reforms in public education.
Late 1800s: Pampa area becomes the heart of Argentina. Indians are driven from the region, farms multiply, and British money helps build railroads.
1877: The first refrigerator ship loaded with fresh meat sails to Europe from Buenos Aires.
Late 1800s: Reform Movement
1889: Formation of the Civil Union for election reform. This later became the Radical Party that appealed to many immigrants and middle class business people.
1910: Roque Sáenz Peña became president. He required every man 18 and over to vote and to register for army service.
1900s–1920s:Great influx of European immigrants. Argentina was a wealthy nation.
1929–30: The Great Depression begin to shatter the nation’s economy. Military dictatorships have often ruled the nation since this time.
1959: The constitution of 1853 was restored.
1982: War with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).
1987: It is announced that the nation’s capitol will be moved to Viedma from Buenos Aires.
The Family History Library has some published national, regional, provincial and local histories for Argentina. You can find histories in the Family History Library Catalog under one of the following:
SOUTH AMERICA - HISTORY
ARGENTINA - HISTORY
ARGENTINA, (PROVINCE) - HISTORY
ARGENTINA, (PROVINCE), (CITY) - HISTORY
The following are only a few of the many historical sources that are available. Books with film numbers can be ordered through local family history centers. Some may be found in major research libraries. There are many other histories for Argentina that can be found in your public library.
World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago, Illinois, USA: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1989. Volume 1. (FHL book 031 W893.)
Piccirilli, Ricardo, Gracisco L. Romay, and Leoncio Gianello. Diccionario Histórico Argentino (Historical Dictionary of Argentina). Six Volumes. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Históricos, 1953–54. (FHL book 982 H26d.)
Abad de Santillán, Diego. Historia Argentina (Historic Argentina). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Tipográfica Editora Argentina 1965. (FHL book 982 H2a.)
Muzzio, Julio A., Diccionario Histórico y Biográfico de la República Argentina (Historic and Biographic Dictionary of the Republic of Argentina). Two Volumes. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Librería La Facultad de Juan Roldá, 1920. (FHL book 982 H26m; film 0824202 item 3.)
Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. They describe the settlement of the area and may also mention the founding of churches, schools, and businesses.
You may 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.
In addition, local histories should be studied and enjoyed for the background information they can provide about your family's life-style and the community and environment in which your family lived.
For some localities, there may be more than one history. Dozens of histories have been written about Buenos Aires. Other local towns and communities in Argentina may also have some published histories. A careful search for available histories for your ancestor's locality is worthwhile.
The Family History Library has some local histories for towns in Argentina. Similar histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives.
The following is an example of a provincial and local history:
Cervera, Manuel M. Historia de la Ciudad y Provincia de Santa Fé 1573 –1853 (History of the City and Province of Santa Fé 1573 – 1853). Two Volumes. Santa Fé, Argentina: La Union, 1907. (FHL book 982.24 H2c; film 1224512 item 3–4.)
The Gregorian calendar is the calendar in common use in the world today. It is a correction of the Julian calendar that had been in use since A.D. 46.
Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar. By 1582, the calendar was ten days behind the solar year. In that year Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull, modifying the calendar to correct the problem. He declared that the day following the fourth of October that year 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.