JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen (Mexico) 1595 Autobiography of Luis de Carvajal-Jewish Life on American Continent #general

Jan Meisels Allen

Last November I posted about the New York Historical Society's exhibit, The
First Jewish Americans-Freedom and Culture in the New World. The exhibit
ran >from November 2016- March 2017. One of the key pieces in the exhibit
was the 1595 autobiography of Luis de Carvajal, the oldest document of the
New World. It showed Jewish life on the American continent. Luis de Carvajal
was burned at the stake at age 30 as he was a Converso Jew. The location
was part of what is today Mexico City and part of Texas, and is claimed as
the first Jew to write in the New World. His family fled >from Spain due to
the Inquisition. He wrote an autobiography which was in the Mexican National
Archives, until 75 years ago when it was stolen. In 2015 it was placed on
auction when a collector, Leonard Milberg, was offered the autobiography.
Investigation confirmed it was a stolen document and Mr. Milberg went
through all the legal and other channels to officially recover the document
for the Mexican government. The agreement he made with the Mexican
government was that the manuscript become a centerpiece of the now finished
exhibition before being returned. The manuscript was returned to Mexico in
March and will be exhibited at the exhibited at the Museum of Memory and

There is a BBC interview with the president of the New York Historical
Society on this fascinating manuscript which can be heard at: .

Thank you to Rose Feldman, IGRA, for sharing the interview piece with us.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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