Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

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Tulane is one of three universities in the US which have created separate collections for Latin American materials. Current holdings total some 365,000 volumes. The Latin American Library comprises 20% of total main library holding and occupies one sixth of total floor space. Its holdings rank tenth among institutions surveyed by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). Combined holding of all Latin American materials at Tulane place us in the top four or five libraries ranked in a l997-8 study of U.S. collections.

The Library is visited by scholars from throughout the world, including many from Latin America 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 web-site registers 280,000 “hits.” Vol. 56 of the Handbook of Latin American Studies identifies The Latin American Library as one of the four most important Internet research sites on Latin America.

The historic focus of the Library has been Mexico and Central America, given the nature of the original l924 gift around which the library has evolved. This focus remains and, in fact, the Library of Congress uses the Latin American Library 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.

The Library has an extensive collection of original Spanish Colonial handwritten documents, including the first letter written by Fernando Cortes in Mexico. It 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 the work of Merle Greene Robertson, the inventor of the rubbing technique as applied to this stone work. 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 Library 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, lienzos, and mapas are visited by scholars from throughout the world. A notable example of these manuscripts is the Codex Tulane, a beautiful colored Mixtec document from around l550 which offers a mythological history of an area of Oaxaca and recounts details of the regimes of fifteen generations of rulers.

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Teaching Cuban Culture & Society: A K-12 Summer Educator Institute in Cuba

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute at Tulane University are proud to announce a two-week summer educator institute exploring the geography, culture and history of Cuba. For an educator, Cuba is rich with lessons to bring into the classroom. This program highlights the important historical and cultural connections between the United States and Cuba. Participants will explore key sites and meet local experts and artists who will provide unique insight for educators who teach such subjects as U.S./Latin American Relations, World Geography, World History, and Spanish among others. Come and visit the site of the historic Bay of Pigs, explore Milton Hershey’s sugar plantation and hear firsthand about the Cuban national literacy campaign from the teachers themselves.

More information coming soon!

Please email crcrts@tulane.edu or call 504.865.5164 for additional details.