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Archival and Manuscript Materials

This page contains links to finding aids for manuscript and archival material in the Yale libraries.

  • Yale University Library Finding Aid Database
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Manuscripts and Archives Department (Sterling Memorial Library)
  • Yale University Divinity Library Guide to Archives and Manuscripts Collections


    Yale University Library Finding Aid Database

    Here you can search for finding aids to manuscript and archival holdings at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Divinity Library, and the Manuscripts and Archives Division of Sterling Memorial Library. Finding aids usually consist of a biographical or historical note about the individual or organization represented in the papers, a description of the papers, and a list of box and folder titles. Some finding aids include appendices with ancillary information, while others only list manuscripts with an item-by-item description.  More information on finding aids at Yale University libraries is available through the Yale University Finding Aids Project.

    Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

    The Yale University Library Finding Aid Database can point you to collections available in the Yale Collection of Western Americana, and the General Collection of Modern Manuscripts, both held in the Beinecke Library. These collections contain important holdings of materials relating to the study of Latin America. The Charles and Lindley Eberstadt Collection includes one of the largest collections in existence of original historical sources recording the life, times, and events of the Central America Federal Republic (1825-1840). The Henry Raup Wagner Collections contain a substantial number of Mexican broadsides covering a wide range of topics including politics, economics, Indians, slavery, health matters, natural disasters, funeral orations, the Inquisition, and various theological considerations. Since the history of Texas begins with the history of México, a great deal of material of interest to Latin Americanists can found in the Thomas W. Streeter Collection, an extensive collection of publications and manuscripts relating to Texas. This collection contains a number of Mexican imprints which are unique among the great Mexican collections in the United States. The Muzquiz (Coahuila, México) Collection contains administrative records from the town of Muzquiz, spanning the period 1699 to 1889, though the bulk of the records dates from the nineteenth century. In addition to these and other collections, the General Collection of Modern Manuscripts contains many early Latin American imprints. (For information concerning other holdings, consult the Beinecke Public Services Department or the appropriate curator.)

    Manuscripts and Archives Department (Sterling Memorial Library)

    Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA) in the Yale University Library houses important primary source materials related to Latin America. They represent the fruit of over a hundred years of collecting Latin American history, and document first contact to the present, from Mexico to the Southern Cone. The unique scope of the collection allows researchers to approach the region's history from a number of perspectives, including-- but not limited to--politics, government, economics, diplomacy, culture, military and religion.

    It is not possible to name all of the important collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Department that relate to the study of Latin America, but the following is a sampling of these collections, with brief descriptions of their content. All collections in MSSA are cataloged in ORBIS, the Yale University Library online catalog.

    Regional/Country History

    MSSA's most historic and comprehensive collections are the Latin American Pamphlets Collection, the Andean Collection, and the Mexico Collection. Transferred to the Yale Library as the Del Monte Collection, the Hiram Bingham Collection and the Henry R. Wagner Collection in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they allow research spanning pre-Columbian indigenous history to the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s.

    The Latin American Pamphlets Collection--available on microfiche--contains approximately 10,000 priceless publications documenting social, political and economic conditions in the region from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. While coverage is strongest for independence movements betweeen 1808 and 1830, particularly in Mexico and Peru, the collection of first-hand accounts, government records, economic reports, biographies, political broadsides, scholarly theses, religious and civic speeches, and playbills is a springboard for countless research projects, ranging from internal social history to the United States-Mexican conflict.

    In addition to illuminating Spanish civil society, religion, military, economy, and government in the Andes before nineteenth century independence, the Andean Collection contains religious documents detaling native peoples' "demonic" religious practices, first hand accounts of the Tupac Amaru indigenous rebellion, correspondence by and related to revolutionary leaders Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, and Antonio José de Sucre, and foreign correspondence sketching Lima society between 1869 and 1871. The collection is mostly focused on Peru, but includes Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Personal correspondence, government reports, laws, accounting ledgers, official Church documents, manuscripts and publications document the Bourbon reforms, Indian unrest, the Wars of Independence, the early Republics, and the nineteenth century war of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. Also of interest are Jesuit reports from indigenous communities in Paraguay and other remote environs. The collection's depth provides insights to both 'everyday' social history as well as the racial, economic, and religious fires that fueled the region's most dramatic conflicts.

    The Mexico Collection is similar in temporal scope to the Andean Collection chronicling the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire in its richest viceroyalty. Correspondence, official government documents, and writings by and on historical protagonists Hidalgo, Itúrbide, Juárez, López de Santa Anna, Díaz, and Maximilian depict civil society, the Church, the military, the economy and the government during the Bourbon Reforms, Mexican Independence, the first Empire, and the Republic. Also included are documents detailing the history of Mexico's indigenous people before first contact, first-hand accounts of the Spanish conquest, instructions given to French agents to seed dissent among Creoles, a roster of Mexico City prisoners in 1808, and lithographs and photographs depicting late nineteenth century Mexican life. Researchers interested in foreign commentaries on Mexico should note an 1808 travel narrative by Alexander von Humboldt and a series of letters home from French and American soldiers. Mexican state history is also represented, from the comprehensive--the settlement, religion, independence, slavery, and federal conflicts of San Luis Potosí from 1522 to 1915, to the epically specific--Linares from 1855 to 1867 during the War of the Reform and the French Intervention. Also of interest, particularly to social historians, is the separate Puebla Archives comprised of civil and criminal court documents from 1565 to 1878.

    The Spain Collection contains government reports, commissions and awards, church documents, correspondence, and literature from Spain between 1500 and 1768, the bulk of which are from the seventeenth century. Relevant to Latin Americanists are the letters and memorials of the secretary of King Philip III (1598-1621), addressing the "decadence" of the politics, society and economy of Spain in the early 17th century. The "Bourbon Reforms" of Philip V (1700-1746) are documented in materials related to projects to develop the society and economy of Spain and its empire, such as "Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para la América."

    Research into the history of the Caribbean can be undertaken using the De Lévis Family Papers and the Caribbean Collection. While the De Lévis Family Papers are limited to court papers, letters and maps documenting the French De Lévis family's estates in Martinique from the eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, the Caribbean Collection spans four centuries and contains manuscripts, maps and publications from Cuba, Jamaica, Santo Domingo and the Virgin Islands. Of interest to researchers of colonial conflict and regional slavery are correspondence on the Spanish invasion of Mexico in 1829 and Spanish-British naval skirmishes, the memoirs of a freed Cuban slave, and plantation records documenting Jamaican slave ownership. A series of reports to the United States government from civil administrators in the Virgin Islands in the 1920s and 1930s shed light on conflicts between the two countries, citizenship status of islanders, and work relief during the Great Depression.

    The Cuban Revolution Collection consists of photographs, films, printed matter, memorabilia, and other materials documenting various periods in the Cuban Revolution, particularly the years 1957-1960, 1964, and 1969. The materials were primarily created by photographer Andrew St. George and filmmaker David C. Stone. St. George?s photographs provide extensive documentation of the 26th of July Movement from 1957 to 1959, and of Fidel Castro during his first year as prime minister. The films created by David C. Stone in 1969 include footage of the Vento School, Juventud Comunista, Turcios Lima Labor Brigade, Urbano Noris sugar mill, and orientadores rurales. The footage was incorporated into Compañeras y Compañeros, a 1970 documentary produced by David C. Stone, Barbara Stone, and Adolfas Mekas, a copy of which is in the collection. There are outtakes of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation film from 1964 of scenes of Havana and Santiago and interviews with Fidel Castro, students, cabaret performers, and a female lieutenant in the revolutionary armed forces. The collection also includes a small amount of papers, some of which were compiled by Andrew St. George, including a manuscript notebook of an interview of Fidel Castro by St. George, medallions and ribbons from the 26th of July Movement, and miscellaneous printed materials.

    The papers of journalist Anne Nelson depict revolutionary action and United States reaction in the Caribbean and Central America in the late 1970s and 1980s. They include clippings, propaganda materials, guerilla memoranda, and government documents on elections, United States supported death squads, leftist guerillas in El Salvador, and the United States Navy's manipulation of Puerto Rican politics and target-practice on the island of Culebra. The Anne Nelson-Black Papers shed light on how local social unrest and the United States' anti-communism fed into the violent 1980s in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic

    The Percival Farquhar Papers reveal the expansion of United States business interests into Latin America and the economic development of Brazil in the early twentieth century. The papers provide insight to Farquhar's (1864-1953) career in Latin American railroad building from 1898 to 1941, when his massive Brazilian railroad project ended due to unyielding Brazilian nationalist opposition.

    Rights and Wrongs, a television series that focused on human rights issues around the world, ran from 1993 to 1996. MSSA holds approximately 2000 videos from the series including program episodes and source footage. A number of episode segments focus on Latin American issues including Central American rights commissions, the modern United States occupation of Panama, the North American Free Trade Agreement, Haitian politics and democracy, the United States Army's "School of the Americas," Brazilian indigenous land struggles, and United States-Cuban relations. Researchers should consult with reference archivists in MSSA about use of the collection.

    United States and Latin America relations

    The career of Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) was one of the building blocks of the United States' historical, scientific, political, and exploration engagement with Latin America in the first third of the twentieth century. His personal papers, one of the most substantive collections available to researchers of Latin American history, highlight his tenures as Yale's first professor of Latin American history, the first curator of the Yale Library's Latin American Collection, Peruvian explorer, pilot, and United States senator. Bingham's personal papers are contained in the Bingham Family Papers, and include ten years of teaching materials, and correspondence and publications that illustrate his critique of the Monroe Doctrine and advocacy of Pan-Americanism. They also document his explorations in Peru and rediscovery of Machu Picchu, additional materials for which are found in the rich Yale Peruvian Expedition Papers. The Expedition Papers detail the mechanics of United States exploration in Latin America before World War I, as well as Peru's nationalist response.

    The intersection of the history of the United States civil war with Latin American history is documented in the James Watson Webb Papers. Webb served as the American minister to Pedro II's Court in Brazil from 1861 to 1869. His personal letters sketch life at the Brazilian court, and his correspondence with Secretary of State William H. Seward documents Webb's efforts to protect American interests in the Paraguayan War, fight aid extended to Confederate privateers, and handle incidents between Confederate and Union ships in Brazilian waters. There is also correspondence on his role securing French withdrawal from Mexico in 1865.

    There are various manuscript collections that document diplomatic relations between the United States and Latin America. Those interested in diplomacy during the early years of Latin American independence should consult the De Forest Family Papers and the Henry Hill Papers. The DeForest Family Papers chronicle the movemments of David Curtis de Forest (1774-1825), a Yankee merchant and privateer. He lived in the Rio de la Plata area from 1801 to 1817, Argentina's late colonial and revolutionary periods, and then served as the new nation's first consul to the United States from 1817 to 1822. De Forest's papers depict the Rio de la Plata's commercial and political history during his years there, as well as the mechanics and diplomatic implications of United States' privateering during Latin American wars of independence. The papers of another Yankee merchant, Henry Hill, document his efforts to sell arms and ammunition to South American revolutionaries in 1817, and his service as the United States vice-consul to Valparaiso, Chile.

    Other collections relating to diplomacy include the the James Rockwell Sheffield Papers (Sheffield was U.S. Ambassador to México, 1924-27); the Arthur Bliss Lane Papers (Lane was a U.S. diplomat in México, Nicaragua, and Colombia in the 1920s to the 1940s); the Thomas Beer Papers in the Beer Family Papers relates to Beer's business interests in Latin America and to his work as lobbyist for sugar companies in Cuba; and the Henry Lewis Stimson Papers (Stimson was Secretary of State under U.S. President Hoover, 1928-1932), including documentation on the interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine. Also, the George Alexander Kubler Papers (Kubler was an art historian who specialized in Latin American art and material culture) contains material on the UNESCO mission to Cuzco, Perú following the 1951 earthquake.

    Finding guides to archival materials held in the Archives and Manuscripts Department (SML) can also be found through the Yale University Library Finding Aids Database.

    Yale University Divinity Library Guide to Special Collections

    The Yale Divinity Library has an impressive collection of religious works concerning Latin America. In addition to a fine selection of books and serials, there are important holdings of materials on Protestant mission activities. Collections of particular interest are the archives (on microtext) of the American Presbyterian church (work in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, México, and Perú, 1865 to 1911) and the International Missionary Council (1930-1958). Detailed information about the scope and content of particular record groups is available in collection finding aids. Links to the available web versions of finding aids are included in the online guide. Finding guides to archival materials held in the Divinity Library can also be found through the Yale University Library Finding Aids Database.
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    This file last modified: 10 November 2011
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