Medina, José Toribio (1852–1930)

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Medina, José Toribio (1852–1930)

José Toribio Medina (b. 21 October 1852; d. 11 December 1930), Chilean historian and bibliographer, and the most remarkable Latin American scholar of his time. Although he was offered a seat in Congress and (in 1871) the secretaryship of the National (Montt-Varista) party, Medina preferred the life of scholarship. It was interrupted only by two short-term diplomatic jobs, in Peru (1875–1876) and Spain (1884–1886), and by public service during the War of the Pacific as military adviser and judge. Medina's support for President José Manuel Balmaceda in the 1891 civil war made it advisable for him to live abroad until 1895. In fact he always enjoyed travel, making five extended journeys to Europe (always with Spain as his most cherished destination) and twice visiting the United States. In 1928, aged nearly seventy-six, he presided at the opening of the Twenty-third International Congress of Americanists in New York. He was honored by a wide variety of learned societies in America and Europe.

Medina was the author or editor of 408 books, essays, and articles. Some 185 of these publications were printed (1888–1919) on his own private presses. His copious writings embrace history, bibliography, biography, literary criticism, geography, cartography, palaeography, numismatics, and many other subjects. Of particular note are the series of books he wrote on the Inquisition in colonial Spanish America (he discovered the Inquisition papers in the Simancas archive in Spain), and the extraordinary sequence of bibliographical studies covering the output of colonial printing presses in more than thirty Spanish-American cities. His devotion to Ercilla y Zúñiga yielded the classic modern study of that poet. Both Harvard University and the John Carter Brown Library offered Medina large sums for his magnificent collection of books and manuscripts. He donated it to the Chilean National Library, where it is kept in the beautifully appointed Sala Medina on the upper floor over the main entrance.

See alsoInquisition: Spanish America .


Guillermo Feliú Cruz, José Toribio Medina (1952).

Sergio Villalobos R., Medina, su vida y sus obras (1952).

Additional Bibliography

Rovira, José Carlos. José Toribio Medina y su fundación literaria y bibliografica del mundo colonial americano. Santiago, Chile: Ediciones de la Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Museos, Centro de Investigaciones Diego Barros Arana, 2002.

                                              Simon Collier

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Medina, José Toribio (1852–1930)

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