Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

Tulane Libraries & Special Collections

Amistad Research Center, Tilton Hall

Manuscripts and book collections that include materials about African roots of Caribbean culture.

Koch Botanical Library, Dinwiddie Hall

Collections of rare botanical works, including 18th- and 19th-century works on Latin America.

Latin American Library, Howard Tilton Library Building

Tulane is one of three universities in the U.S., which has created separate collections for Latin American materials. Current holdings total some 365,000 volumes. The LAL comprises 20% of total main library holding and occupies one sixth of total floor space. Its holding ranks tenth among institutions surveyed by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). Combined holding of all Latin American materials at Tualne place us in the top four or five libraries ranked in a 1997-8 study of U.S. collections.

LAL is visited by scholars from throughout the world, including many from Latin American searching for information about their own countries. Yearly it honors about a thousand interlibrary loan requests from other institutions. Every year it fields some 1,000 extramural scholar inquiries and its award-winning website registers 280,000 “hits”. Vol. 56 of the Handbook of Latin American Studies identifies LA as one of the four most important Internet research sites on Latin America.

The historic focus of the LAL has been Mexico and Central America, given the nature of the original gift around which the library has evolved. This focus remains and, in fact, the Library of Congress uses the LAL as a yardstick to evaluate its own collections for Guatemala and Belize.

Among the more notable holdings is an archive of almost 30,000 historic photographs, many of them depicting customs, costumes and buildings no longer extant. The photo collection also includes unique glass negatives and lantern slides taken by early photographers.

LAL has an extensive collection of original Spanish Colonial handwritten documents, including the first letter written by Fernando Cortes in Mexico. LAL is especially rich in its collection of native language dictionaries, grammars, catechisms, legal dossiers, administrative proceedings and notarial records from New Spain. Another extremely important special collection includes over 2,000 rubbings (many of them huge in size) of Maya stone carving. These are work of Merle Greene Robertson, the inventor of the rubbing technique as applied to this stonework. The importance of this collection increases yearly as the original stone material is pilfered, looted or eroded by acid rain and petrochemical pollution. In many cases it is best full-scale record of particular inscriptions extant.

Perhaps the crown jewel of the LAL is its collection of original Mexican pictorial manuscripts in the Native tradition, the largest such collection in the U.S. These pre-Columbian and colonial painted manuscripts, codices, lenzos, and mapas are visited by scholars from throughout the world. A notable example of these manuscripts is the Codex Tulane, a beautiful color Mixtec document from around 1550 which offers a mythological history of an area of Oaxaca and recounts details of the regimes of fifteen generations of rulers.

Louisiana Collection, Jones Hall

Books and journals relating to all periods of Louisiana history, including Spanish colonial imprints, compilations of Louisiana law, a copy of the Spanish law code Las Siete Partidas, and a complete set of the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, which contains numerous reports on tropical diseases in the Gulf region. In the collection are Spanish-language newspapers published in New Orleans.

Manuscripts Department, Jones Hall

Extensive holdings of manuscripts from the French and Spanish colonial period, including family letters, military and official correspondence, army rosters and commissions; collections relating to Gulf shipping and trade with Central America, such as the Standard Fruit Company Papers; personal papers of travelers in Mexico and Central America, such as the Francisco Reibeau and Mary Ashley Townsend Papers; and the political papers of Mayors Chep Morrison and Victor Schiro, who worked to promote trade and cultural exchange between New Orleans and Latin America.

Middle American Research Institute, Dinwiddie Hall, 4th floor
Collections of pre-Columbian artifacts, Mayan textiles, lantern slides and photographs of archaeological expeditions to Mexico and Central America.

Southeastern Architectural Archive, Jones Hall

Elevations, floor plans, and specifications of 19th- and early-20th-century commercial buildings and residences; records of the leading architectural firms in New Orleans; photographs of New Orleans and Gulf-South architecture.

University Archives, Jones Hall

Correspondence and clipping files relating to the establishment and history of the Middle American Research Institute, as well as to other Tulane activities in Latin America.

U.S. Government Documents, Howard Tilton Library

Reports of the Department of Commerce for statistics on trade with Latin America; reports of the Department of State for foreign relations material; extensive documentation about the Panama Canal, border relations with Mexico, treaties, and other topics.

William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive, Jones Hall

Photographs, sheet music, scores, oral interviews, and other types of material relating to New Orleans jazz. The repository offers the opportunity to study the influences of music from Cuba, Mexico, and the trans-Caribbean area on local music. The photograph collection contains many images of African-American culture.

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Upcoming Events

Film Screening: El Súper with filmmaker Iván Acosta

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The 1979 film version of Cuban filmmaker Ivan Acosta’s award-winning play El Súper, which gained critical and international success for its depiction of exiled Cubans in New York City, will be screened. Mr. Acosta will be in attendance and a discussion in English will follow. Iván Acosta is a playwright, filmmaker, and creative director originally from Santiago de Cuba, now in New York City. His creative endeavors include documentaries, plays, films, and books, and he’s served as writer, director, and producer, among other roles.

A small reception will follow the screening. Seating may be limited. Admission is free and open to the public. For questions email ccsi@tulane.edu.

For further reading visit: https://www.nytimes.com/1979/04/29/archives/the-screen-el-super-a-cubanamerican-tale-the-cast.html


Collaborators of these events with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Tulane’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute include Beatriz Ball, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, the Newcomb Art Museum, Park View Historic Hotel, and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

Equity speaker series to host panel on navigating immigrant relations in the current political climate

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The Center for Academic Equity at Tulane University is proud to present Border Li(n)es: Excluding, Extracting, and Expelling Immigrants in the Southern U.S. on September 25, 2018 at 7:00 PM as part of the Equity Speaker Series.

Following a summer of turbulent immigration relations in the United States, the Fall 2018 Equity Speaker Panel will focus on immigration on our Southern border and will feature specialists whose experiences vary from grassroots to professorial work. Panelists will include Josiah Heyman, Director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, Ronald Martinez, New Orleans immigrant activist and spokesperson for the Congress of Day Laborers, Hiroko Kusuda, Clinical Professor and Director of Immigration Law at the Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola, and Laila Hlass, Clinical Professor of Law at Tulane Law School and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

These four distinguished speakers will share the stage of Freeman Auditorium to discuss the drastic variation in immigrant relations across the national, regional, and local spaces and ways that members of American society may become engaged in or change the now toxic and polarized political climate. This inaugural discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.

See also Tulane New Wave for more information and a description of the event.




Cover photo from CNN story What the US-Mexico border looks like before Trump’s wall.

Mexican Cultural Institute's new exhibition features Hispanic women artists' empowerment and identity

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The Mexican Cultural Institute in New Orleans in collaboration with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation is proud to announce the opening of the groundbreaking exhibition Hispanic Women Making Art: Creative Empowerment and Identity. The exhibition will feature artists Verónica Bapé, Belinda Flores-Shinshillas, Ana Hernandez, Josephine Sacabo, Laura Velez and Luba Zygarewicz and is curated by Marcela Correa, MFA.

The opening reception will be held on September 26 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. The exhibition will be open beginning September 26 and continue through November 24, 2018. For more information, please visit the Mexican Cultural Institute website.

Cover photo is a work by Verónica Bapé from the series ABUNDANTE COSA 1 MES 1 ARTISTA.

In 2018 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico established the Mexican Cultural Institute in New Orleans. The primary objective of the Mexican Cultural Institute is to promote the image of Mexico by supporting cultural expressions in its broadest and fullest sense, including multidisciplinary forms like visual arts, music, performing arts, film, literature and gastronomy. The mission of the Cultural Institutes is to be protagonists of the cultural scene in their different host cities.


Iván Acosta book presentation: With A Cuban Song in the Heart / Con Una Canción Cubana en el Corazón

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Iván Acosta will present his memoir, With a Cuban Song in the Heart/ Con Una Canción Cubana en el Corazón, published by Un-Gyve Press, 2017. At this event, Mr. Acosta will incorporate his favorite Cuban songs in a musical and historical journey. His book features artwork from 280 album covers in his private collection and weaves a rich narrative combining real life experiences from his childhood in Santiago, Cuba along with tidbits of local lore and historical references. His favorite songs will be performed by local performers during the presentation.
This fascinating presentation, starting at 6:00PM, will be held at Tulane University in the Freeman Auditorium of the Newcomb Art Building (in Newcomb Circle) New Orleans, LA, 70118. A book signing and reception will follow on Woodward Way, right outside the Freeman Auditorium and in the Newcomb Art Museum. The book will be available for purchase for $60.00.

This event is free and open to the public. For questions email ccsi@tulane.edu.

For further reading visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/16/nyregion/public-lives-cuba-on-his-mind-the-dual-life-of-an-artist-exile.html


Collaborators of these events with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Tulane’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute include Beatriz Ball, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, the Newcomb Art Museum, Park View Historic Hotel, and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

Celebración Latina at the Audubon Zoo

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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, please join us at the Audubon Zoo for the 2018 Celebración Latina family festival to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of Latin America. Celebración Latina, presented by Pan-American Life Insurance Group, will be held at the Zoo’s Capital One Stage and Field. It will offer a true taste of the Latin American culture with live music, children’s activities, and authentic Latin cuisine prepared and sold by local restaurants. Local artisans will sell hand crafts, and local social service, health, and education organizations will offer wellness, education, and social service information.

Celebración Latina is included with Zoo admission or Audubon membership. No outside food, beverages, or tents allowed. Portable chairs and blankets are welcomed.

Don’t forget to check out photos from past celebrations!

For more information, please visit the Audubon Zoo website.

Celebración Latina is sponsored in part by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Ron Austin & Associates.

New Orleans Jazz Museum to host transcribathon of Spanish and French colonial documents

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The New Orleans Jazz Museum will be hosing a “Colonial Documents Transcribathon” on Saturday, October 13. A transcribathon is an all-day event where lovers of language and history come together to transcribe and encode hand-written manuscripts. Transcribers will learn to use cutting-edge technology to transcribe documents from the museum’s collection of eighteenth-century French and Spanish colonial records. These transcriptions will help people around the world learn about the colonial history of New Orleans and its environs. The NOLA Jazz Museum Transcribathon will also feature live music, a bar, tours of the collections, a raffle with prizes, and invited speakers.

The events welcome brand-new and experienced transcribers with any level of French or Spanish, as well as anyone interested in learning more about the Jazz Museum’s one-of-a-kind collection of colonial records.

To learn more and to RSVP, please event the official event website.