José Toribio Medina
He was born at Santiago, Chile, and was educated for the bar. His first publication, when a very young man, was a metrical translation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline. When twenty-two he was appointed secretary to the legation at Lima, Peru. After his return he published a history of Chilean literature (1878), and a work upon the aboriginal tribes (1884).
In this latter year he was appointed secretary of legation in Spain, and availed himself of the opportunity of examining the treasures of the old Spanish libraries. These researches, repeated on subsequent visits to Spain, and also to France and England, enriched him with a mass of historical and bibliographical material. Among his publications may be mentioned the Biblioteca hispano-americana, a remarkable catalogue of unedited documents relating to the Spanish discovery and colonization of Chile, including a number of articles from Martín Fernández de Navarette. Volumes II and III of this collection focus on Ferdinand Magellan, from where the recorded history of Chile starts; the Biblioteca hispano-chilena, a similar work, commenced in 1897; the standard and magnificent history of printing in the La Plata countries (1892); comprehensive works on the Inquisition in Chile, Peru and the Philippines; and the standard treatise on South American medals (1899).
Exhaustive study of Magellan
In 1920, the Chilean historian published a comprehensive study of Magellan containing an impressive amount of biographical information, a detailed analysis of the beginning and development of the voyage of circumnavigation, and a remarkable amount of information on the crews of the Armada de Molucca. This contained a priceless list of documentary sources and an outstanding bibliography. The title of this work is El Descubrimiento del Oceano Pacifico: Vasco Nuñez, Balboa, Hernando de Magallanes y Sus Compañeros. In the words of Tim Joyner, "Any serious study of Magellan and his enterprise must include this informative product of Medina's exhaustive archival research."
In addition, Medina produced the fullest bibliographies yet attainable of books printed at Lima, Mexico and Manila, and a number of memoirs and other minor writings. No other man had rendered anything like the same amount of service to the literary history and bibliography of the Spanish colonies. Medina was designated "Humanist of the Americas" by members of the Pan American Union.