views updated


Parral, an important mining center in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Though prospectors were active in the area as early as the 1560s, it was not until 1631 that the first major silver strike occurred, creating a rush and the foundation of San José del Parral. Because the nonsedentary Chichimecs of the region could not be used as tribute labor, an attempt was made to organize encomiendas among the Concho, a semisedentary indigenous group. When this proved unsuccessful, mine operators turned to other sources of labor, including a small number of indigenous people enslaved by war. However, the employment of African slaves and large numbers of free workers of various ethnicities were the norm from almost the beginning. Through the colonial era and beyond, Parral's mines typically experienced numerous booms and busts. The town achieved a different kind of notoriety on 20 July 1923, when Pancho Villa was assassinated there.

See alsoMining: Colonial Spanish America .


The basic study remains Robert C. West, The Mining Community in Northern New Spain: The Parral Mining District. Berkeley: University of California, 1949. Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982, pp. 216-219, presents a brief overview of colonial Parral; the town's late colonial social history is investigated in Robert Mc Caa, "Calidad, Clase, and Marriage in Colonial Mexico: The Case of Parral, 1788–90," in Hispanic American Historical Review 64 (August 1984): 477-501; and rural labor in colonial Nueva Vizcaya, the greater region surrounding Parral, is examined in Susan M. Deeds, "Rural Work in Nueva Vizcaya: Forms of Labor Coercion on the Periphery," in Hispanic American Historical Review 69 (August 1989): 425-449.

Additional Bibliography

Bendesky, León, and Raul Conde Hernández. Parral, comunidad y desarrollo. Chihuahua, México: Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua: Doble Hélice, 2001.

Martínez Meraz, Silvia Margarita. Educación y género: Docencia femenina en hidalgo del Parral, Chih. (1631–1900.) Chihuahua: Doble Hélice Ediciones, 2006.

Vargas Valdez, Jesús. Pedro Alvarado y Virginia Griensen: Una vida, un palacio: Entre la historia y la leyenda. Gobierno del Estado de Chihuahua, Secretaria de Educación y Cultura, Dirección de Publicaciónes y Proyectos Especiales, 2001.

                                        Robert Haskett