Cuban Heritage Collection Photographs Now Online

Last year, the University of Miami Libraries acquired the Tom Pohrt Photograph Collection, an invaluable collection of photographic images of Cuba in the 19th and 20th centuries. With funding from the Goizueta Foundation,we digitized the entire collection, which includes album prints, daguerreotypes,* ambrotypes, and stereographs. We are excited to announce that the digital collection is now available for online viewing at (the finding aid is here:

Tom Pohrt, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is an author and illustrator of children’s books. He is also a collector of Cuban photographs, documents, and memorabilia. We asked him to write a guest article about his photograph collection:

The motivation behind my collecting historic photographs of Cuba began out of simple curiosity. I wanted to know more of Cuban history and its people.

A longer answer to this might come from having parents who instilled in me a sense of curiosity and the value of knowledge for its own sake. My father was a life long collector of American Indian artifacts. The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming are now home to this collection. The exposure growing up around my father’s passion in this aspect of American history had a rich and profound effect on me.

As an artist I have always had a great love of the visual arts, including photography. About twelve years ago I stumbled across and purchased some photographic studio portraits of Havana residents, taken in the early 20th century. I was taken by these images and wanted to know more of their story.

Like many of my generation, I grew up reading and hearing of Cuba during the years of the Cold War. I had a passing knowledge of the “Spanish American War” but that was the embarrassingly limited extent of what I knew of Cuba. Eleven years ago I had my first opportunity to travel to the island, to see and explore some of its history firsthand. It left a lasting impression and since [then] I have returned many times.

This collection was put together by purchases made from other collectors and dealers from around the world. Books and photographs were also found in the odd rare book and antique shop. Early on I decided to let the photographs I was finding direct the focus of my collecting. Soon I found that part of the strength of this collection lay in the mid 19th century photographs I was coming across. As a comprehensive history of early photography in Cuba has yet to be written, I felt this period demanded special attention.

These rare images represent a significant collection of mid 19th century photography of Cuba. Aesthetically beautiful, they are also of great importance as historical documents.

There are examples here of Cuban studio photographers as well as American itinerant photographers.

Examples of the American Civil War photographer George Barnard, whose Cuban stereo-view represent the earliest known images of slavery on the island, form part of this material. His views of Havana also give us a glimpse of life at the time.

There are 71 photographs from an album taken between 1859 and the early 1860’s documenting lighthouses from around the island, with views of Havana and outdoor views taken along the island’s northern coastline. While the photographer remains unknown there is evidence that these may have been taken by photographers (most likely Cuban) working for Charles DeForest Fredricks. C.D. Fredricks & Co. was one of the premier photographic studio in Havana in the mid 19th century.

With the wealth of historic material at the Cuban Heritage Collection, I felt this was the natural home for this material. I was also greatly impressed by the CHC Digital Collections. This service provides easy access both to scholars and to the general public.

* Learn more about one of the daguerreotypes contained in this collection:


Rudolf Theodoor Kemper
University of Miami

La Energaia Launches Unified Search

La Energaia a project that brings UNM’s Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) and Ibero- American Science and Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC) together with the University Libraries (UL) in the development of a user-friendly knowledge base on energy policy and dialogue in Latin America.
Made possible by a grant from the United States Department of Education’s TICFIA program, this project seeks to connect internet researchers in the United States with the vibrant flow of information on alternative and renewable energy in Latin America, especially in those areas where indigenous peoples are heavily impacted. La Energaia illuminates the advancements that many Latin American countries and organizations have pioneered to English speakers who would miss out on Spanish, Portuguese or Quechua discourse.

La Energaia’s challenge is to select, organize, manage and make discoverable — in English – documents and discussions from multiple sources. NotiEn, a digest written in English by our project journalists, analyzes energy issues and topics from the target languages. We match this more traditional form of producing secondary material with internet crawls and captures designed to save publications posted on Latin American social networking sites and blogs, and policy documents reprinted on electronic government pages.     Such a project requires diverse skills, including — in addition to grant organization and management — the ability to systematically research, crawl, capture, describe, archive and disseminate stories compiled within the LADB as well as in internet accessible policy documents, twitter posts ( and blog entries, preferably within a seamless structure.

La Energaia’s  team, including Principal Investigators Susan Taino and Johan Van Reenen, Project Directors Nelmy Jerez  and Vickie Madrid Nelson, Technical Guru Renzo Sanchez-Silva,  Web Master George Lloyd Scott, NotiEn coordinator Carlos Navarro, Collections Manager Suzanne Schadl, and student researchers Hilda Paucar, Kira Luna  Aurora Cruz, Ana Berberana and Tanya Sewers, is currently on the brink of launching a unified search feature on the webpage at

This search tool will enable visitors to search data selected and described over the past year from the above mentioned internet and social networking spaces. Team members have created English language metadata for these items, which we are currently merging with DRUPAL taxonomies to facilitate seamless retrieval from La Energaia collections in UNM’s institutional repository, Archive-It and the project’s customized Twitter API in Drupal.

Each of these collections has been available separately through links on the La Energaia page. The problem with this kind of organization is proverbial: It works only for those who know what they’re looking for. When the goal is to put information in the hands of people not even aware of the data’s existence, it is essential to create something better organized and more searchable through standard internet search engines.

Searchable subject specific databases that link users to multiple sources via metadata are nothing new. What is new is creating a discoverable database that can serve the purpose of alerting United States scientists to Latin American advancements within a freely accessible content management system. This system also enables La Energaia to retrieve free, but perhaps less accessible, tweets, posts and pages.  Not unlike the vertical file of the past, this project pulls data on Latin American energy into one space for interested researchers. But unlike the vertical file it does not limit access to those searching a singular topic.

Drupal’s Taxonomy helps to organize websites by attaching descriptive terms to pieces of content. La Energaia’s metadata leads people to find Latin America – Argentina – Buenos Aires, for example in simple search engine queries for “renewable energy” or “wind farms and their impact on indigenous peoples.” By separating countries as vocabulary fields and energy topics as terms and tags, La Energaia ensures that Latin American country names will not get tied up in broad searches for solar cells but that Latin America will become visible as a result of their search.

One need not know anything about La Energaia to find the data this project has compiled, but for librarians working with Latin Americanists, should prove a useful tool and an ideal link for subject guides.


Suzanne M. Schadl
University of New Mexico

CSRC Library at UCLA Reopens

Lizette Guerra (CSRC) and tatiana de la tierra at library opening. Photo courtesy of Sócrates Silva.

The Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) Library at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) celebrated its reopening on March 8, 2011. Thanks to support from The Ahmanson Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Major League Baseball Players Association, and individual donors, the library has been renovated with new shelving, computers, a vibrant new coat of paint, a new sound system for special events, and a new librarian’s office which is glass encased and makes a statement of accessibility to the user. According to Chon Noriega, director of the CSRC, the new layout and remodeling will help “bring the library in synch with its activities.”
The reopening program highlighted special collections and initiatives at the CSRC Library such as the Edward R. Roybal Papers, which reflect Roybal’s family history and his years of public service as a Los Angeles City Councilman and U.S. Congressman; the Strachwitz Frontera Collection, the largest repository of Mexican and Mexican-American vernacular recordings in existence; and the Latino Theatre Initiative/Center Theatre Group Papers, an initiative at the Center Theater Group’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles which sought to increase theatrical programming relevant to the Latina/o community. Donors and scholars spoke not only about the unique collections and their importance to the historical record, but the sense of community and collaboration that is part of the ethos at the library. The program also included a performance by Raúl Pacheco from the Los Angeles band Ozomatli who was joined by the audience in the singing of his song “Gay Vatos in Love.”
Sócrates Silva
University of California, Los Angeles


Donation to Amigos

Letter of thanks from Amigos president, Mr. Isaac Vivas Escobedo.


SALALM librarians donated more than 170 books to Mexico’s library network Amigos: Red de Instituciones Mexicanas para la Cooperación Bibliotecaria ( as part of SALALMistas’ annual participation at Guadalajara’s 2010 Feria Internacional del Libro. The project was coordinated in cooperation with the Benjamin Franklin Library of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Micaela Chavez Villa, Director of the Colegio de México Library and Amigos member, coordinated the book distribution among Amigos member institutions.
Adán Griego
Stanford University


Juan José Saer Manuscripts, 1958-2004 at Princeton University Library

The Manuscripts Division has recently added the manuscripts of Argentinean writer Juan José Saer to its premier collection of archives, manuscripts, and correspondence by Latin American writers and intellectuals.  The collection contains numerous notebooks, notes, and drafts of Saer’s novels, essays, short stories, poems, and interviews.  Several items in the collection are unpublished.  Also included are background materials for Saer’s posthumous novel, La Grande, and some photographs.  A detailed finding aid is already available.

Juan José Saer, the son of Syrian immigrants to Argentina, was born in Serodino, a town in the province of Santa Fé, on June 28, 1937.  He studied law and philosophy at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fé, and taught film history and criticism at the same institution.  He moved to Paris in 1968, where he taught literature at the University of Rennes, and lived in that city until his death in 2005.  Although Saer spent most of his literary life outside Argentina, much of his fiction was set on the area of northern Argentina known as el Litoral.  Among his literary works are the novels Cicatrices (1968), El limonero real (1974), Nadie, nada, nunca (1980), El entenado (1983), La ocasión (1988), La pesquisa (1994), and the book of poems El arte de narrar (1977).  Saer is considered by some critics to be the most important Argentinean writer of the post-Borges generation.
Feel free to contact me or the Manuscripts Division for information additional information about this collection.
Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez
Princeton University


Merle Greene Robertson Collection at Tulane

The Latin American Library is very pleased to announce a new collection guide and web site for the Merle Greene Robertson Collection, Latin American Library Manuscripts, Collection 133.  The guide was prepared by Christine Hernández and David Dressing with assistance from Victoria Lyall and Lori Dowell.

Spanning the period from the 1920s to 2010, the papers of this art historian, archaeologist, artist, teacher, and writer consists of material related to the study of the ancient Maya gathered and produced over a lifetime of activity in the field. The collection includes correspondence, publications, photographic material, rubbings and line drawings of Maya relief sculpture, art work, and information on exhibits and conferences.
To access the guide and other information on the collection and on Merle Greene Robertson, see

Hortensia Calvo
Tulane University


University of Florida Celebrates 80 Years of Latin American Studies

Gainesville, FL – The University of Florida (UF) proudly celebrates 80 years of teaching, research and service in Latin American Studies. The anniversary will be marked by a series of public events from March 24-26, 2011. The events include the dedication of a historical marker on the Plaza of the Americas, an academic conference, a Latin American career symposium, several art and cultural exhibits, and a gala reception. Full details can be found online at:

At UF’s commencement ceremonies on June 2, 1930, President John J. Tigert announced the creation of the Institute for Inter-American Affairs (IIAA), the first research center in the United States to focus on Latin America. Interest in Latin America at UF was, and still is, a natural result of Florida’s geographical proximity to the Caribbean and South America, its Spanish heritage, and its large Spanish-speaking population.
The IIAA’s inaugural conference was held in 1931 as part of the celebratory events marking the university’s 25th year in Gainesville. UF’s Plaza of the Americas was dedicated at the closing ceremony by planting 21 live oaks on the university quadrangle, one for each of the republics of the Americas at the time. Over the subsequent decades the IIAA evolved into what is known today as the Center for Latin American Studies. In 1961, UF’s Latin American program was among the first in the country to be designated a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) under its new Title VI program. It has been funded through Title VI ever since.
UF faculty members have been a force behind the development of the field of Latin American Studies nationally. The Handbook of Latin American Studies, the premier bibliography on the region, was published by the University Press of Florida from 1949-1978. The inaugural meeting of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Library Materials (SALALM) was hosted by UF in 1954. Also, three UF faculty members have served as president of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), the largest professional association in the world for individuals studying Latin America.
The mission of the Center for Latin American Studies is to advance knowledge about Latin America and the Caribbean and its peoples throughout the hemisphere. With over 170 faculty from colleges across UF, the Center is one of the largest institutions internationally for interdisciplinary research, teaching and outreach on Latin America, Caribbean, and Latino Studies.
This press release was reprinted with permission.
Hannah Covert
University of Florida Libraries


The UWI Renames Library


(Left to right) Jennifer Joseph, University and Campus Librarian, Professor Clement Sankat, Campus Principal, and Dr. Alma Jordan. Photograph courtesy of Mark Bradshaw.



Telephone: (868) 645-3232 Ext. 2132  Fax: (868) 662-9238  e-mail:

The Main Library at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine which has been the intellectual hub of the campus for many years, has been renamed The Alma Jordan Library in recognition of the exemplary service and pioneering work of its first Campus Librarian, Dr. Alma Jordan. A ceremony to mark the occasion was held on Monday February 28, 2011 on the quadrangle in front of the Library and was attended by Dr. Jordan herself, the Campus Principal and other senior administrative staff, many of her former colleagues, library staff, information professionals from the national community, her relatives and friends. This iconic building with its distinctive pyramid shape was actually conceptualized by Dr. Jordan and was opened in October 1969. Dr. Jordan served as the St. Augustine Campus Librarian from 1960 to 1989 and the University Librarian from 1982 to her retirement in 1989. She has written extensively on Caribbean librarianship, and was a foundation member of the Library Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) as well as the Association of Caribbean University Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL). Dr. Jordan has served on boards and committees nationally, regionally and internationally and is the recipient of many medals and awards, including the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) in 1989.  In 2001 she was inducted into the Hall of Excellence of her alma mater, St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
Dr. Jordan can be justly proud that those who have followed have built upon her legacy, creating a state of the art academic library. Moving beyond its imposing physical structure, The Alma Jordan Library is now a knowledge portal, providing a gateway to a vast digital storehouse of the intellectual output and information assets of The University of the West Indies.
This press release was reprinted with permission.
Elmelinda Lara
The University of the West Indies