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Where was orphanage in 1803?

barbara grumer

New Member
Hi Pilgrims!

I am writing a book about a group of 22 orphans who were removed from an orphanage in Santiago in 1803 by the king of Spain. They were used as living carriers of the smallpox vaccine and taken to New Spain and left in Mexico city. (The Balmis-Salvany Expedition, this is often called).

Information about these orphans is sketchy. I know all were male and they were between the ages of 2 and 8 when they sailed from La Coruna in late 1803. I would like to know where the orphanage was housed (which building) and who ran it (civil or religious group). I do know that the rectoress of the orphanage was not a relgious figure. Her name was Dona Isabel Gomez y Cendala (or possibly Cendala y Gomez).

Does anyone know anything about this or have a lead for me???


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Staff member
Hi Barbara,

Welcome to this forum!

I have not heard about the story you are referring to, but would suggest that you try to get in touch with some locals here in Santiago to see if they can help you. I have a few suggestions:

1) The tourist office in Santiago may know something about this; even if it may be a "long-shot" it might be worth a try. You can write to them in English.

Central Office
Rúa do Vilar, 63 981 555 129
Opening hours: 9-14/16-19
Summer opening hours: 9-21 (1.6-30.9)

They may be able to at least guide you in the right direction.

2) Have you tried to contact anyone at the university here in Santiago? Here is a list of professors in the History department:

I do not know any of them personally, but they may be able to help you as well. You probably should try to write in Spanish when communicating with them, at least the first e-mail as many (even professors) do not speak any English.

3) You could try to get in touch with someone in the local government in the city of Santiago? Maybe there is someone there that can point you in the right direction.

I hope this helps.

Greetigns from Santiago de Compostela,

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