First Book Printed in the Americas
The first book printed in the Americas, from which we have physical evidence, is El manual de adultos printed in Mexico City, Mexico on December 13, 1540. Juan Cromberger printed El manual de adultos as instructed by Bishop of Michoacán, Vasco de Quiroga. El manual de adultos was created to fulfill the mandate of the First Ecclesiastical Meeting in 1539. Only three pages of the text exist today and they are located at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
El manual de adultos was meant to be used by priests as a brief guide on how to baptize natives. Most of the early printed books in Mexico City were meant for religious indoctrination. The text is written in gothic font. The first page is composed of a poem written in Latin by Fray Cristobal Cabrera, “the most prolific” Latin poet of the Americas in the early 1500s. The poem served as a: forward, introduction and table of contents. The second page, and continuing to the third page, is composed of the “fe de erratas” which is the list of mistakes made in the printed text. What follows if the colophon which states: “Imprimióse este manual de adultos en la gran ciudad de México, por mandato de los Reverendisímos Señores Obispos de la Nueva España, y a sus expensas, en casa de Juan Cromberger. Año del Nacimiento de nuestro Senor Jesucristo de mil y quinientos y cuarenta. A 13 días del mes del diciembre.”
There are two other books which bibliographers say were printed before El Manual de Adultos, but as of now, nobody has found physical evidence of their existence. La escala espiritual written by San Juan Climaco is said to be printed around 1536 or 1537 by Esteban Martin in Mexico City. The other book is Breve y más compendiosa doctrina cristiana en lengua mexicana y castellana, printed by Juan Cromberger in 1539, also in Mexico City.
- Coleccion Digital UANL, “1080014005_08,pdf” Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, http://cdigital.dgb.uanl.mx/la/1080014005/1080014005_08.pdf
- De Vivar, Ernesto Torres. Breve Historia Del Libro en Mexico. Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, 2015.
- Fernandez Esquivel, Rosa Maria. Los Impresos Mexicanos Del Siglo XVI: Su Presencia En El Patrimonio Cultural Del Siglo Nuevo. Ciudad Universitaria, 2006
- Lopez Don, Patricia. Bonfires of Culture: Franciscans, Indigenous Leaders, and the Inquisition in early Mexico, 1524-1540, University of Oklahoma Press; First Edition, 2010.
- Rechy, Juan Angel Torres. “Edicion Critica y Estudio De La Primera Parte Del Instrumento Espiritual De Cristobal Cabrera.” Salamanca/Universidad de Salamanca, 2015.
Alan Gerardo Padilla Aguilar specializes in Mexican and Mexican American history. He has been honored with a State of Texas Joint Resolution for his work with the local community. He was chosen to participate in the Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative program at Harvard Kennedy School in 2013. He was also a research assistant for the PBS documentary, "The Head of Joaquin Murrieta."