Panel 11: The Hispanic Division and the Handbook of Latin American Studies: highlighting Luso-Hispanic Collections in the Library of Congress (2015)
Moderator: Daisy V. Domínguez, The City College of New York, CUNYRapporteur: Peter S. Bushnell, University of Florida
Georgette Dorn, Hispanic Division, Library of CongressThe Hispanic Division in the Development of Latin American Studies : a historical review
Katherine McCann, Hispanic Division, Library of CongressPortraying Latin America : The Cândido Portinari murals in the Hispanic Reading Room
Debra McKern, Library of Congress, Rio de Janeiro OfficeWeb archives in the Hispanic Division
Tracy North, Hispanic Division, Library of CongressThe Handbook of Latin American Studies : a gateway to doing research in the Library of Congress collections
In 1939, the Hispanic Foundation at the Library of Congress was founded with Lewis Hanke as director. He had been at Harvard and brought with him the “Handbook of Latin American Studies” which had begun three years earlier with a corps of contributing editors and support from the American Council of Learned Societies. By 1927, Archer Huntington had provided funds for a first-rate Hispanic collection at the Library of Congress along with funds to support a “curator” or specialist in Hispanic culture.
Lewis Hanke was director until 1951 and during that time special emphasis was placed on building collections in the humanities and the arts. In 1943, the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape was begun with Francisco Aguilera as curator. Initially preserving readings by poets from Spain and Latin America it expanded over the years to include Portuguese, Catalan, Francophone (Haitian), Anglophone (Jamaican and Belizean) writers.
Howard Cline was appointed director in 1952 and held the position until 1971. Bringing an emphasis on the social sciences and the pre-Columbian world, he prepared the 18- volume “Handbook of Middle American Indians” as well as a number of other wide ranging publication including “Soviet writings on Latin America” as well as the first “National Directory of Latin Americanist”. In 1956, two important organizations were founded, SALALM (supported by the Hispanic Foundation) and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). The Foundation hosted the first LASA meeting and housed the association headquarters until 1972. Another important event during the Cline years was the establishment if the Rio Office, with Earl Pariseau, Assistant Director of the Foundation as the first Field Director.
In 1973, the Hispanic Foundation was renamed Hispanic Division and Mary Kahler became the director. A Brazilianist, she oversaw the publication of leadership guides to the Harkness Mexico and Kraus collections of manuscripts.
In 1978, William E. Carter, an anthropologist (from the University of Florida) became Director of the division. The Division continued to support SALALM, LASA, AHA and other organizations. The third “National Directory of Latin Americanists” was also published during Carter’s tenure.
Library scholar Sara Castro-Klaren was the director from 1984 to 1986 and pioneered a library wide exhibition to celebrate the anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra’s “La Galatea”.
Political science scholar Cole Blasier, who helped to found LASA, served as director from 1988-1982 and initiated the automation of the “Handbook of Latin American Studies”. Two specialist positions were also created, Ieda Wiarda for Luso-Brazilian studies and Barbara Tenenbaum for Mexico.
Georgette Dorn became head of the Hispanic Division in 1994 and instigated the retrospective conversion of the “Handbook’s” first 49 volumes into machine-readable format. With support from the Andrew J. Mellon Foundation and the Fundación MAPFRE in Spain, CD-ROMS of the first 49 years were produced in Spain. The Hispanic Division is now beginning to integrate the CD-ROMs into the Voyager system. Dorn also served as the curator of the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape after 1970 and recorded 470 writers for the archive. Currently with the help of Catalina Gómez, 50 of the writers will be mounted in the Library’s website.
Cândido Portinari was born in São Paulo into a large Italian family. He started painting at an early age and eventually went to Paris to study. In Paris he met the Uruguayan artist María Martinelli who became his wife. Later in his career, her better knowledge of English helped tremendously.
After returning to Brazil, he began to make a name for himself, and by 1939 had works on display in the Brazilian pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. Most of his subject matter concerned the workers and natural resources of Brazil. By this time, President Roosevelt’s Good neighbor policy was in effect and the Office of Inter-American Affairs sponsored a conference in 1939 to promote cultural exchange within the Americas. When asked to have an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Portinari asked to have as much space as they had given Picasso.
By this time, Archibald MacLeish had been named Librarian of Congress (with some opposition from the ALA since he was not a librarian). With the support of the Hispanic Division and other agencies involved in inter-American relations, photographers, film studios (including Disney), etc. became involved in promoting relations within the Americas.
Although wall decorations had been planned for the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress, by 1940, the walls were still bare. MacLeish then invited Portinari to paint some murals. Portinari was already familiar with the space. With support from the Brazilian government and $2500 from the U.S. government, work was initiated. Portinari kept the theme to that of the Spanish and Portuguese in America rather than having anything too Avant Garde. There are a total of four murals in the reading room. Unfortunately, this summary cannot include the illustrations shown during Katherine McCann’s presentation which included working sketches, finished murals and other pictures of interest.
Web archiving is a fairly new activity in the library world. Beginning in 2000, the Library of Congress began a pilot project to collect and preserve websites. Then in 2003 the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) was formed. The archiving at the Rio de Janeiro Office of the Library of Congress is the first for all of Latin America.
Before a collection is actually archived, a proposal is submitted with the following elements: Sponsor and Custodial Division, Nominators & Reviewers, Scope, Collection Period, Number & Types of Sites, Theme and Selection Plan. Reviewers include outside colleagues. More than one viewpoint is desired. Once a proposal has been made, the nomination has seven criteria to meet: Frequency of Capture, Subject, Justification (e.g., geography coverage), Urgency, Category, Site Owner Contact Information, Permission Plan. One of the first collections created by the LC Rio Office dealt with the 2010 presidential elections. The collection period was easily defined and because of the nature of information gathered, there was often no site owner contact information to be obtained. Information was gathered weekly since website content would change constantly. However, for the collection of Cordel literature, owner contact was required along with permissions since the various sites could be traced to an individual person or entity. As a sidelight, the percentage of Cordel authors who are women, is greater online than in print.
Currently, the LC Webarchives can only be viewed at LC itself. One future topic of interest is serials. These are not all covered by other sources and much work needs to be done to make sure the whole content is preserved.
The Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) has been published since 1936. It consisted of a selective annotated bibliography with introductory essays. The disciplinary coverage was quite broad with changes over times. Contributing editors came from universities and research institutions in the United States and throughout the world. There is now a web site in addition to print volumes.
The contents of the HLAS include: books, journal articles (core list of 350 or so), book chapters, conference papers, web sites, maps and atlases. Publications can come from all over the world. Primary languages covered have been Spanish, English and Portuguese but French, German, Italian, Russian, etc. have also been included.
Even though nearly everything in the HLAS is in LC, not everything in LC is included in the HLAS. All incoming titles from Latin America, Spain and Portugal are considered. Subject headings used for records in print follow the Library of Congress Subject Heading list provided online. There is a close relationship between the HLAS and the research orientation of the Hispanic Reading Room.
Two web sites have begun to contain large data conversion projects. HLAS web started with vol. 49 and has proceeded to work backward. So far vols. 46-49 have been added.
The Library of Congress also hosts HLAS Online. HLAS Online began with vol. 50 and continues with the current issues.
Some of the digitized collections at LC include:
Chronicling America. Spanish language newspapers
Prints and photographs online catalog. Archive of Hispanic Culture
Maps and atlases.
Sound recordings. Hispanic, Latino and Latin American authors
World digital library. Precolumbian manuscripts.
The current web address for the HLAS is: www.loc.gov/hlas
Soon it will be: www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/