This collection consists of 157 sets of documents related to the Junta Provincial de Patronato de Matanzas, created in 1880 when the law of patronato (apprenticeship) was passed in Spain. The law represented a legal strategy to gradually abolish slavery in Cuba. Most of the workings of the slave system were preserved, but patrocinados, as former slaves came to be known, received a minimal set of legal rights and were to be paid a token wage. The transition to the patronato system was overseen by a provincial network of government agencies called Juntas de Patronato.
The Junta Provincial functioned as a statewide entity, and local juntas present in municipalities and cities were under the jurisdiction of the Junta Provincial and the civil governor. The records of the Junta Provincial de Patronato de Matanzas include official documents, correspondence between the local juntas and the Junta Provincial, and reports detailing numbers or names of patrocinados. The records also include files detailing cases of individual patrocinados who were trying to obtain their freedom.