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Women Printers from the Americas, 17th Century

(Research by Baoxin Lau [contributions identified with "BL+" ]; writing by Baoxin Lau and Kathleen Comerford)

N.B. General biographical information on the women included here can be found at one or more of the following publications or knowledge bases, which were used in collecting data for these vignettes.



Benavides, Paula de (active 1641-1684†): Mexico City.  Paula de Benavides, printer of approximately 448 titles after her husband’s death, was born to parents from Toledo: Gabriel López de Benavides and María de los Reyes (dates not available for either).  Paula married the printer Alcalaíno Bernardo Calderón (c.1600-1640), from Alcalá de Henares, in 1629, roughly three years after his arrival in New Spain.  According to her marriage certificate, Paula considered herself Creole, not Spanish.  He was a printer-bookseller in Mexico City, located on the Calle de San Agustín.  They had six children, who continued the business of printing and became among the most important printers in Spanish America.

          Calderón had an exclusive privilege of printing and selling Spanish-language booklets, and upon his death in 1640, Paula took up the same work.  He had left no will, but via power of attorney, she inherited the print shop.  Soon after, she had legal battles with printer Francisco Robledo (active 1640-1647) over the privilege of the printing of catechisms in pamphlet form.  Robledo argued that he had printed in the “Mexican” language, rather than Spanish, but Paula argued she inherited Bernardo's privilege and had to support six children.  She won the case.  Upon Robledo’s death, Paula received the privilege of using the title of “Imprenta del Secreto del Santo Oficio,” or printer of the Inquisition.

          Her eldest son, Antonio Calderón y Benavides, apparently predeceased her.  Her daughter María married a family friend, Juan de Rivera (son of the printer-booksleller Diego de Rivera and Juana Venegas), whom Paula made a partner in the business.  Two of Paula’s children gave up their inheritance out of religious faith. For three generations after Paula’s death, her family (María, her brother Diego, and María’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) continued working at the print shop.  Family printing ended when the shop was sold to Jose de Jauregui y Barrio.



Montiel Ontiveros, Ana Cecilia, and Luz de Carmen Beltrán Cabrera. "Paula de Benavides: impresora del siglo XVII.   El inicio de un linaje." Contribuciones desde Coatepec, no. 10 (2006).

“Paula Benavides,”

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