During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the European colonization of the Americas was accompanied by a series of efforts to convert indigenous communities to Christianity. To achieve this aim, European missionaries sought to learn indigenous languages. This recent online exhibit from the Newberry Library, "allows users to visualize the painstaking, technical, frustrating, and improvisational process by which European missionaries sought to learn and utilize a language entirely new to them." In doing so, this exhibit provides insight into both the history of colonization as well as the prevalence of indigenous languages during these time periods. Items featured in this timeline include a 1540 dictionary (author unknown) that provides both Spanish and Nahuatl translations for Latin words; a grammar text authored by Father Diego Gonzalez Holguin in 1607 (and printed on the first South American printing press) that provides Latin and Spanish translations for Quechua words; and Roger Williams's 1643 A Key Into the Language of America, or, An Help to the Language of the Natives, which documented the Algonquian language Narragansett.
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