Tobar Donoso, Julio (1894–1981)

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Tobar Donoso, Julio (1894–1981)

The Ecuadoran diplomat and historian Julio Tobar Donoso, born January 25, 1894, was one of Ecuador's most distinguished historians of the old guard. Like so many of that country's writers and makers of history, he was a multifaceted intellectual. He studied at the Jesuit Colegio de San Gabriel in his native Quito and took a doctorate in law from the Universidad Central in 1917.

Tobar Donoso was a practicing Catholic and a staunch conservative—his wife was a grandniece of Gabriel García Moreno (president of Ecuador, 1861–1865 and 1869–1875). He was politically active, a journalist, a diplomat, an educator, and a prolific scholar. He was a member of the Asociación Católica de la Juventud Ecuatoriana in his youth and one of the presidents of the Centro Católico de Obrero. He founded the weekly Acción popular in 1932. The minister of foreign affairs during the short but devastating 1941 border war with Peru, Tobar Donoso suffered political ignominy for having signed the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro in 1942, that ceded much of the Upper Amazon Basin claimed by Ecuador to Peru. One of the founders of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Quito in 1948, Tobar Donoso was the dean of its law faculty for twenty-five years and also a professor of political science. Thirty years earlier he had been one of founding members of the Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Estudios Históricos Americanos (1918), the predecessor of the Academia Nacional de Historia del Ecuador (founded 1920). He was also a member of the Société des Américanistes as well as of many other academies and societies, including the Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua, of which he became president in 1965.

Especially interested in the national period, his many writings include: La iglesia ecuatoriana en el siglo XIX (1934); Monografías históricas (1937), which brings together several of his more important articles; García Moreno y la instrucción pública (1940); Derecho territorial ecuatoriano (1961, 1979, 1982); and the posthumous El indio en el Ecuador independiente (1992), all of which are scholarly, sound, mostly pioneering as well as original, and required reading for students of the period. He also shed light on the colonial period. His Las instituciones del período hispánico, especialmente en la Presidencia de Quito (1974) is a vade mecum in its own right.

See alsoEcuador-Peru Boundary Disputes; García Moreno, Gabriel.


Rueda, Marco Vinicio. Julio Tobar Donoso, maestro universitario. Quito: Ediciones de la Universidad Católica, 1982.

Vega y Vega, Wilson C. Bibliografía del Dr. Julio Tobar Donoso. Quito: W. C. Vega Vega, 1994.

                                   Michael T. Hamerly

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Tobar Donoso, Julio (1894–1981)

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