The research project that generated this data base was called "Members of the Coronado Expedition, a Search for Documents." It was designed to identify, locate, and study sixteenth-century documentary manuscript sources dealing with as many individually identifiable members of the Coronado Expedition as possible. That group was to include persons already known to have been connected with the expedition and any additional persons who might be identified in the course of the research. It has been an evolving process to establish as provisionally comprehensive a list as possible of named persons who participated in or were associated with the expedition.
The core of that list derives from the muster roll or alarde that was prepared in Compostela, then the capital of Nueva Galicia (now the city of Tepic in the Mexican State of Nayarit), in February 1540, just before the bulk of the expedition officially began its long, northward trek toward Cíbola. The Compostela muster roll includes 289 European men-at-arms. Research conducted over the last six decades, including work by the Flints for this project, has increased the total of known, named European men-at-arms on the expedition to at least 346. Even with this adjustment, the list of individually known members of the expedition was far from complete.
In the first place, between two thirds and three fourths of the expedition's membership was comprised of Native Americans from Central and West Mexico, none of whose names appeared on the Compostela muster. The Flints feel fortunate to have identified individually thirteen of these indios amigos and to have assembled significant information about them. Other individually identifiable information about the Indian allies remains scarce. Secondly, the expedition included a large, but only vaguely known cohort of servants and slaves, presumed to be largely from North and West Africa. Conservatively, the Flints estimate their number at 400 or more. There are occasional mentions of servants and slaves in the data base, but they are rarely linked to distinct, named individuals. Thirdly, European women and children also participated in the expedition, but are onlyoccasionally mentioned in the surviving documentary records. Beyond the very few whose names are known, women and children comprised a significant segment of the total expeditionary company, though exact numbers remain impossible to guess. The unknown European men-at-arms who for one reason or another were not present at the Compostela muster and have not been identified through other contemporaneous sources, represent another absence. One significant group in this category is the crew and passengers of the three-ship fleet led by Hernando de Alarcón that paralleled the land-based expedition up the coast of the Gulf of California and was expected to rendezvous with it.