About Marisol Ramos

For those curious to know my background, I have a B. A. in Anthropology from Univ. of Puerto Rico, a Master degree in Latin America and Caribbean Studies from SUNY-Albany and a M.L.I.S with an archival concentration from UCLA.

Semiotics in the archives: Reflections on ‘Eviction and the Archive’ by scholar Daniel Nemser

image of front cover of Book written by the architect Lucas Cintora defending his work at the Lonja de Sevilla which will housed the new Archivo General de Sevilla.

Book written by the architect Lucas Cintora defending his work at the Lonja de Sevilla which would later housed the new Archivo General de Sevilla.

“Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.” ― Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose.

Today’s story is not about books talking about books necessarily but of a book talking about archives and their buildings, and the rationale, in this particular story, to evict people from a building to replace them with books and records in the name of history and imperial memory. In a way you can say that this is story of semiotics of archives, signs and meanings found in an article talking about a book talking about an archive to be born…

As I said in a previous post, it is valuable to hear from our researchers and to learn about how they used our archival materials in their work. Professor Daniel Nemser contacted me in April 2014 asking for access to one of our rare books titled, Justa repulsa de ignorantes y de émulos malignos: Carta apologético-crítica en que se vindica la obra que se está haciendo en la Lonja de Sevilla (1) written by the architect Lucas Cintora in 1786. Prof. Nemser needed to consult the piece for a scholarly article he was writing. As far as we know, there are two known copies in the world, one located at the University of Seville’s library and the other at the Archives and Special Collections here at UConn Storrs (2). Prof. Nemser was able to visit us last May 2014 to consult the book and last September 2015 he contacted me to let me know that his article, “Eviction and the archive: materials for an archaeology of the Archivo General de Indias” was published in Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies that month.

I was immediately intrigued and enchanted by the title of the article. It is not common to see literature scholars studying archives and their place in history. But this article delved into the history of the establishment of one of the most important archives ever created – an archive which documents “four centuries of Spanish colonial rule” and is considered the “first modern archives in Spain and one of the first in Europe” (page 131), el Archivo General de las Indias.

The article documented how a particular building known as La Casa Lonja de Mercaderes in Sevilla, designed by architect Juan de Herrera, a magnificent building to house the Consulado de Mercaderes (the city merchant guild), was repurposed to become the Archivo General de las Indias. After the construction “la Lonja”, the guild moved their office to the city of Cádiz and the building was abandoned, but right after people of poor means moved in and occupied the upper levels. The article explored how the founding of the archive, the eviction of its inhabitants and the modifications to the original building were part of an Enlightenment project by the Spanish crown to create a “modern archive” that justified their imperial project. Prof. Nemser explained that “the materiality of the archive itself would tell an epic tale about Spain’s colonial achievements and highlight the value of its ongoing colonial enterprise” (page 136).

The rare text from our collection was key to Prof. Nemser’s argument that the modifications of the original building by architect Lucas Cintora served to reshape the building’s functionality to conform to this enlightenment project. The modifications also represented a break with the past and the embrace of a new future, one that emphasized the importance of the Spanish empire and its validity to rule its colonies in the Americas. Prof. Nemser explained:

Since each type of building has a specific function and as such requires different formal characteristics, it will be necessary to “destroy” – Cintora does not pull his punches here – any elements of the original that are contrary to this new purpose. Of primary importance for an archive, he argued, was an open layout with what he called a “diaphanous” character. This was especially the case for an Enlightenment project such as the AGI [Archivo General de Indias], and as such it is understandable that the metaphor of light runs through much of the writing about the archive. In the structural transformation of the building, however, this metaphor takes on an architectural dimension: the need for light, clarity and transparency was precisely why the separation walls [inside the Lonja] had to be demolished (136).

As an archivist, it was fascinating to discover through the work of this scholar that Archives and Special Collections had a text in its collection that sheds light on the colonialistic root of the AGI. Prof. Nemser’s research left me pondering about the origins of other archival institutions, including our own. As Umberto Eco deftly explained in his novel The Name of the Rose, archives and libraries’ books are full of signs and meanings in constant dialogue with each others through the eyes of its readers.

We are honored and delighted to have facilitated Prof. Nemser’s research and to learn more about the complex history of archives.



1: We recently digitized this book and now it is available at the Connecticut Digital Archive.

2: From the article, “According to Humanes Bustamante, 200 copies of Cintora’s book were printed but later withdrawn and destroyed (339n11). However, at least two copies remain. Zerner has analyzed a copy held at the AGI, while the copy I consulted is located at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. I am grateful to Marisol Ramos for her assistance.”

The Geigel at the Archives: A look at the Géigel Family’s impact in documenting Puerto Rican socioeconomic and cultural history through the Puerto Rican Collection


Luis Géigel and his daughter, Bianca Géigel Lonergan in the stacks where part of the Puerto Rican collection is located (06/18/2014).

Luis Géigel and his daughter, Bianca Géigel Lonergan in the stacks where part of the Puerto Rican collection is located (06/18/2014).

Last June 18, 2014 I had the pleasure to welcome to the archives two family members of the late Luisa Géigel—the last owner of what it is known as the Puerto Rican Collection, A.K.A. the Geigel Family Collection. Bianca Géigel Lonergan contacted me in June to see if we could arrange a visit to the collection so her father, Luis Géigel, could see the books her cousin (*), Luisa Geigel de Gandia sold to the archives. For the visit I gathered a selection of the books published by several members of the Géigel family in the collection as a way to reflect on the importance of this family in the development of Puerto Rico as a modern nation since the late 19th century.

As I mentioned in previous blog postings about this collection (2010 and 2012), the Archives and the Special Collections department, with the help of a former UConn History professor Francisco Scarano, acquired this collection in 1982 through several grants and financial supports from the Research Foundation, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Center of Latin American Studies, the Class of ’26, and the University of Connecticut Foundation, from Luisa Géigel de Gandia. Luisa Géigel de Gandia was an important artist in Puerto Rico especially in the 1940s. She was the first Puerto Rican female sculptor. She also was a painter and was the first women artist to exhibit several nude figure studies in Puerto Rico. She was a co-founder, together with Nilita Vientos Gastón, of the Arts Division at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. From 1958-1986 she taught Sculpture, Drawing and Artistic Anatomy at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She was also a published author.

Index and inventory created by Luisa Géigel of the titles and location of all the books in the Géigel collection in her home in San Juan, PR

Index and inventory created by Luisa Géigel of the titles and location of all the books in the Géigel collection in her home in San Juan, PR

Together with her father and grandfather, she maintained, expanded and inventoried her family’s books and serials collection. As Dr. Scarano aptly described it, “this magnificent research collection, painstakingly nurtured by the Géigel family of San Juan for three generations, constitutes a bibliographic resource of national scholarly significance” (1).

José Geigel y Zenón

José Geigel y Zenón (1841-1892)

From rare literature gems from the 19th century and 20th century to agricultural and political treatises, this collection serves as a snapshot of the different cultural, political, scientific, and economic movements experimented in Puerto Rico in the past two centuries. The collection also reflected the various interests that drove the family members, José Géigel y Zenón (1841-1892), Fernando Géigel y Sabat (1881-1981), y Luisa Géigel de Gandia (1916-2008) to amassed this collection. Other individuals that donated materials to the original collection was Ramón Gandia Córdova, Luisa Géigel’s father-in-law who donated a good portion of the agricultural books found in this collection. There are other members of the Géigel family represented in the collection such as Vicente Géigel y Polanco (politician and former president of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño), A.D. Géigel (a translator of foreign novels during the 19th century), and Luis M. Géigel (agronomist and father and grandfather of our visitors).

The Geigel family members were great contributors to the cultural and political life of Puerto Rico and their work reflected their deep love and concerns about the past, present and future of Puerto Rico. José Géigel y Zenón, known as Pepe by his contemporaries, was part of the intellectual elite in 19th century Puerto Rico and was friend and/or relative to many important cultural figures such as Alejandro Tapia y Rivera and Manuel Zeno Gandia—who signed and dedicated their books to their dear friend Pepe. In term of cultural contributions, José Géigel y Zenón, together with Abelardo Morales Ferrer wrote one of the most definite Puerto Rican bibliography of their time titled, Bibliografía Puertorriqueña 1492-1894 which was produced between 1892 -1894. Later on his son, Fernando Géigel y Sabat published the first edition of this work in 1934. In addition, Fernando published a compilation of his father satirical writing that he published in different 19th century newspapers such as El Progreso, Don Simplicio, El Derecho, y La Azucena, titled, Artículos político-humoristico y literarios por Jose Géigel y Zenón (1936).

Fernando Géigel y Sabat

Fernando Géigel y Sabat (1881-1981)

Fernando Géigel y Sabat was also an important member of the family. A lawyer by training, he was a Manager of the City of San Juan (1939–1941) and published author. He authored several books which range from political topics such as El ideal de un pueblo y los partidos politicos (1940) to historical treatise, Balduino Enrico (1934), and Corsarios y piratas de Puerto Rico 1819-1825 (1946)—inspired in part by Alejandro Tapia y Rivera novel, Cofresí, which Tapia dedicated to Fernando’s father. Also present in the collection are several important titles from Vicente Géigel y Polanco. A politician, reporter, essayist, ateneísta, he was a pivotal figure in Puerto Rico during the mid-20th century. The collection has several of his books such as El problema universitario, on the role of the university in Puerto Rican culture, La independencia de Puerto Rico about independence as a political option for Puerto Rico, and his memoir about his work at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, Mis recuerdos del Ateneo.

There are two books from Luisa Géigel in the collection, La genealogía y el apellido de Campeche and El paquete rojo o informe sobre la extinción de la moneda Macuquina. Luis M. Géigel’s work at the Estación Experiemental in Puerto Rico is also present with the title, El algodón “sea-island” en Puerto-Rico which is available at the Internet Archives. I have compiled a list with the books published by the Geigel family in the collection for your enjoyment.

Marisol Ramos, Curator, with Luis Géigel at the stacks

Marisol Ramos, Curator, with Luis Géigel at the stacks

This visit by Bianca and Luis Géigel was quite a walk into memory lane. It helped me to contextualize this collection as part of a bigger project of imaging Puerto Rico as part of a broader cosmopolitan project that connected Puerto Rico with its past, present and possible futures. The vision of the Géigel family for Puerto Rico was multifaceted and its collection represented that diversity of thoughts, history, politics and cultural projects experimented during the 19th and 20th century. Walking with Luis and Bianca into the stacks at the Archives and Special Collections to see the books up close and personal, was like embarking in a time-traveling adventure similar to the ones imaged by the Alejandro Tapia y Rivera in one his stories; a type of magic only find in the archives…

Note: (*): Luis Géigel is Luisa’s first cousin once removed.


Scarano, Francisco A. “The Géigel Puerto Rican Collection”. Harvest. The University of Connecticut Library, Fall 1982: 1-2.

Biographical Data for Luisa Géigel available at these sites:

Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latina/o, Latin American and Caribbean Collections

Spanish Periodicals and Newspapers: From online access to scholarly production

Page of Correo de las Damas (title page)

Correo de las Damas (title page) First issue, 1804

Have you ever wondered what happens after a researcher uses one of our archival collections available online or as a digital surrogate? Sometimes online or remote users are hard to track and most of the time we are unaware of how they end up using our materials but sometimes we are lucky and they will contact us and share their work with us.

I am happy to report about three scholars (one from Japan and two from Spain) who shared their works and their thanks for giving them access to our collection of Spanish Periodicals and Newspapers.

From Japan

In 2009 we got a request to scan a copy of all the issues of the newspaper, El Ebusitano, the first weekly newspaper (1846-1847) in the island of Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands, Spain. Hirotaka Tateishi, professor and chairman of the Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, was tracking down this rare newspaper which was not available either in Ibiza or in Spain’s National Library, to clarify the real beginnings of this publication (who was the first editor, how long was published, where it was published, etc.). Professor Tateishi mentioned in his publication that he had found many references to the existence of the newspaper in old reference books, but always with the caveat that the author(s) had never been able to see the originals. Fortunately for Prof. Tateishi, the Archives and Special Collections was able to provide a digital surrogate of this newspaper title for his research since we had acquired this collection around the 1970s–a collection amassed by one of the most famous bibliophiles in Spain, Juan Pérez de Guzmán y Boza, Duque de T’ Serclaes. In 2010, Prof. Tateishi published his findings, ” “El Ebusitano”: el primer periódico de Ibiza en los fondos de una biblioteca americana” in an open access journal, Mediterranean world, published by the Mediterranean Studies Group at Hitotsubashi University,

From Spain

Beatriz Sánchez Hita and María Román López are scholars and collaborators from the University of Cádiz, Spain. Their research focus on the role of women in the shaping of the nascent printing culture (in the form of newspapers) in Spain during the 19th century. One of the newspapers that they were looking to have access to was El Correo de las Damas (1804-1808). Until recently this newspaper was very difficult to access by Spanish scholars since there are no copies available in any of their main libraries, including Spain’s National Library. We got a request from them in 2009 to photocopy all 15 tomes for this newspaper but we could not do so at the time because of preservation concerns. Instead, I decided to apply for a library grant to digitize all the tomes for this title, which became the beginning of our Spanish Periodicals and Newspapers digital collection, which not only comprised of a selection of women’s magazines, but also includes a selection of 18th and 19th century magazines (mainly literary) from this collection, for a total of 39 digitized titles.

Diario de Cádiz (title page). First issue, 1796

Diario de Cádiz (title page). First issue, 1796

Although María Román López visited us at the archives right after we finished the digitization of Correo de las Damas in September of 2009—to study the physical characteristics of this title—the majority of their research was done online. Prof. Beatriz Sánchez Hita benefited immediately with the new access of Correo de las Damas, and later on the Diario de Cádiz, and was able to finish two scholarly articles published in 2009 and 2010, respectively, about the role of women (as writers or as readers of newspapers) in the debates developing in the Spanish press regarding the Constitution of 1812, “Escritoras y Periodistas ante la Constitución de 1812 (1808-1823)” and the War of Independence (from France), “Las escritoras en la prensa de la Guerra de la Independencia vistas por sus colegas : ¿lucha de género o política?“.

More recently, in 2014, Beatriz Sánchez Hita and María Román López finished a massive analytical study (220 pages) titled, La prensa femenina en Cádiz a principios del siglo XIX Aproximación al Correo de las Damas (1804-1808), that focused on the:

 …study of the Correo de las Damas (1804-1808), a journal aimed at women that was published in Cadiz as a supplement to Diario Mercantil (1802-1814). It was edited by Joseph Lacroix, Baron of Bruère, and appeared in print with a total of 17 volumes, of which we had access to all except No. 16. The study includes a consideration of the figure of his editor and promoter, in order to proceed with the characterization of this magazine aimed at women, which has often been overlooked in the historiography of journalism, being still a rarity today. It devotes special attention to the description of its contents following their arrangement in teh (sic) pages of the journal (3).

As Sáchez and Román explained about the rarity of Correo de las Damas:

Esto se debe a que no parecen haber quedado colecciones del mismo en las principales bibliotecas españolas, no en vano solo hemos podido localizar este periódico en la colección J. Thomas Dodd, de la Universidad de Connecticut, donde se conservan los tomos 1 a 15 en SPAN PER 16, a los que desde hace poco tiempo puede accederse online (5).

This study is freely available at Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo, http://revistas.uca.es/index.php/cir/article/view/1920

As you can see, making accessible rare archival materials digitally has an immediate impact on the production of new scholarly knowledge as these examples illustrate. It is always satisfying to see how increasing access to these cultural heritage collections benefit not only our local users but the global community of scholars–specially scholars from the country where the records were created. We will continue preserving these invaluable cultural heritage collections and making them more accessible through digitization for many years to come.

Marisol Ramos, Curator of Latina/o, Latin American & Caribbean Collections

Exploring Bolivian political culture in the years between the War of the Pacific & the Federal War of 1899 in newspapers

[This summer, we at the Archives and Special Collections department at the Dodd Research Center had the pleasure to welcome Forrest Hylton, PhD, one of our Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee of this year, who came to us to do some research for his coming book, Reverberations of Insurgency: Indian Communities, the Federal War of 1899, and the Regeneration of Bolivia. Below is his essay recounting his experience working with a selection of Bolivian newspapers that are part of the Latin American Newspapers Collection. Enjoy, Marisol Ramos, Subject Librarian and Curator of the Latina/o, Latin American and Caribbean Collections]

La Bandera Federal (newspaper)

A Bolivian newspapers from Sucre (1884)

It is always a pleasure to work in the Archives and Special Collections of a research library, and thanks to a Strochlitz Travel Grant, I came to the Dodd Center to use the Latin American newspapers collection, which is particularly strong for Bolivia in the nineteenth century. The research I did in the course of several days will allow me to analyze key features of Bolivian political culture in the years between the War of the Pacific and the Federal War of 1899 for the first chapter of a book manuscript entitled Reverberations of Insurgency: Indian Communities, the Federal War of 1899, and the Regeneration of Bolivia.

The manuscript examines sovereignty, political representation, and property rights, as well as processes of racial-ethnic and state formation, and highlights indigenous forms of organization and mobilization that combined elements from pre-colonial, late-colonial, and republican political cultures. I argue for the role that politics played in defining collective self and other, and thus for its centrality to the construction of ethnic and racial identities in late-nineteenth-century Bolivia. In the Federal War of 1899, modes of indigenous sovereignty and political representation that had been forged in anti-colonial insurrections of the late eighteenth century resurfaced with dramatic force, and victorious Liberals tarred them with the epithet of “race war.” These were non-liberal, but not separatist or ethnocidal movements, which aspired to hegemony at the sub-national level. Non-indigenous groups would be subject to indigenous authority, at least in the countryside where nine of ten Bolivians lived. Yet indigenous insurgents were firmly allied with Liberal federalists. I have used judicial sources from Bolivia to understand these aspects of indigenous insurgency.

I came to Storrs to look at Bolivian newspapers from the 1880s and 90s to develop a clearer picture of the Liberal Party, in its own words and in the provinces, as well as the Conservative response to Liberal initiatives, proposals, and candidates. The Latin American newspaper collection at the Dodd Center has a number of papers, such as El Artesano Liberal, El Artesano, La Democracia, Ecos Liberales, Ecos Federales, Ecos de Aroma, El Liberal, and El Imparcial, that explicitly identified themselves as organs of the Liberal Party in Sucre, Potosí, and Oruro, as well as La Paz, and these papers—many of them produced by and for artisans—carried extensive coverage of elections of 1884, 1888, 1892, and 1896 and the fraud, intimidation, and violence that went with them, in country seats as well as provincial capitals. This coverage helps us see why the Liberal Party revolted against Conservative rule in 1899, since the electoral path to power was blocked by Conservative political monopoly, which also favored Conservative business interests in land and commerce. It also allows me to reconstruct the political and journalistic careers of leading creole figures in the Federal War, Conservative as well as Liberal, such Severo Fernández Alonso, José Manuel Pando, Ismael Montes, Fernando Guachalla, Adolfo Mier, and Claudio Quintín Barrios, and focal points of Liberal organizing in the provinces, such as Sicasica, Colquechaca, and Corocoro.

One of the remarkable things about Liberal newspapers is their interest in and coverage of local electoral efforts, particularly in Sicasica and Luribay, the area south of La Paz where the most important leaders of the Federal War emerged on the creole as well as the indigenous side. I had hoped to find news of local indigenous uprisings connected to Liberal electoral campaigns, particularly in Sicasica, but it appears that indigenous communities were largely absent from official debate and discussion among Liberals and Conservatives during the 1880s and 90s. The two articles I found in the Liberal press that mention indigenous uprisings (or the threat of them) condemned them as a threat to property rights and propertied persons, which suggests that Liberals had not seriously considered mobilizing indigenous communities until the late 1890s, even though there were local-level indigenous revolts beginning in the late 1880s.

I had expected to find evidence of Liberals and indigenous communities working together against Conservatives at least since the late 1880s, but it now looks as though indigenous activism against the privatization of community lands and Liberal opposition to Conservative political monopoly operated on largely separate tracks, with little overlap before 1896. Thus it is possible to see the Federal War of 1899 as the result of a general crisis of sovereignty, in which the convergence between indigenous movements for self-government in the countryside and the Liberal opposition based in provincial capitals and county seats—a temporary marriage of convenience—changed the country’s political geography decisively. The short-lived nature of the convergence, in turn, makes it easier to understand why Liberals turned on their erstwhile indigenous community allies immediately after coming to power.

Curator, Marisol Ramos showing Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee Forest Hylton a Bolivian newspaper

Curator, Marisol Ramos showing Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee Forest Hylton a Bolivian newspaper

The Dodd Center’s collection is essential for anyone wishing to understand creole and mestizo political culture of urban centers in nineteenth-century Bolivia, and though they fell beyond the scope of my own research on the 1880s and 90s, I found numerous papers from the 1860s and 70s, as well as the 1830s. What makes the collection particularly remarkable is its variety and diversity, for it contains materials from provincial capitals that have not, to the best of my knowledge, been preserved in Bolivia itself. I am grateful to have had a chance to look at the Dodd Center’s impressive collection, however briefly, and hope to return in the future.

Forrest Hylton, PhD, was a Lecturer in History & Literature at Harvard University in 2013-14, and beginning in 2014-15, he will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University. 

A Fierce Performer: The Magdalena Gómez Papers Collection (1979-2012)

Some of you may have seen already the UConn Today article announcing that the UConn Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center has acquired the Magdalena Gómez Papers (1979-2012). Born in NYC but currently a resident of Springfield, MA, Magdalena Gómez is what I consider the quintessential Renaissance woman: an award-winning poet, playwright, performance artist and social activist. Magdalena Gómez has the ability to combine art with social activism to create projects that are uplifting and empowering, one of the many reasons that guide me when I decided to acquire her collection.

Magdalena Gómez’s creative output is impressive. Poetry,  plays, non-fiction, puppetry, monologues are just a few of the things that Magdalena has created, performed, engaged for several decades; and still there is more to come, as she herself shared with us recently:

I am in what may be the most creative period of my life. As I near the beginning of six decades on the planet I am at last finishing my novel, getting my first book collection of poetry published by Red Sugar Cane Press, NYC (I have chapbooks and two CD’s), and have poems and monologues, some of which have been set to music, by acclaimed composer, Desmar Guevara running Off-Broadway this Fall: Dancing in My Cockroach Killers, a co-production between Pregones theater and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, an Off-Broadway house since the 1960’s, founded by one of our legendary actors, Ms. Miriam Colón. It will be directed by another legend of American theater (all of the Americas), Rosalba Rolon, with choreography by Antonio Vargas.

In addition, Magdalena’s commitment to social change and justice through art is evident in such projects as Teatro V!da, the first Latino theater in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she is Co-Founder and Artistic Director. From their website:

Teatro V!da was founded to build youth leadership through the arts with a special focus on the creation of youth generated multi-media performance works in collaboration with professional adult artists. Our intergenerational ensemble work provides a venue for youth to identify and address issues that concern them in creative, positive, and life-giving ways.

Magdalena is the consummate collaborator. Her most recent effort is with Maria Luisa Arroyo, a writer and educator, with whom she co-edited a book on bullying, Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions, and Catharsis (2012), an anthology of essays and poems written by educators and students, young and old people alike, who have suffered bullying but found that speaking out and sharing their experience is a way of healing–be it through a testimonial, a poem, or a short story.

At this point in time, we have a small collection, with a wide variety of materials that showcase the diverse projects and endeavors in which Magdalena has engaged from 1979-2012. Magdalena Gómez is an incredibly productive artist so more material will surely arrive in the archives as time goes by. Currently we have the following types of materials available in the collection: photographs, published poetry, published books and unpublished manuscripts of original poetry and plays, publicity posters and flyers, and empowering workshops material which highlight her creative output. Materials related to Teatro V!da and her book on bullying are also included, in addition to workshop material that she produced to teach educators, young children and adults, prisoners, abused women, etc. with the aim to empower them to reach their potential. A finding aid to her collection should be uploaded online by the end of the Fall semester.

Please visit the Archives & Special Collections, John P. McDonald Reading Room to see a display of Magdalena Gómez materials. The display will be available from Sept. 24 to Oct. 31st, 2013 during our regular hours, Monday-Friday: 10:00am-4:00pm.

Finally, today, Wednesday, October 9th the UConn Libraries, together with the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, El Instituto, the Asian American Cultural Center, the Asian American Studies Institute and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Institute are co-sponsoring the event An Evening with Magdalena Gómez, at the Student Union Theater starting at 4pm, where we will celebrate Magdalena’s work and life. During the program, Magdalena will perform work from her forthcoming poetry anthology (Reception to follow at PRLACC).

Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latina/o, Latin American & Caribbean Collections, UConn Libraries
Suzanne Zack, Marketing & Communications Specialist, UConn Libraries

Avviso! Notice! Italian Risorgimento Broadside Collection now accessible!

Despite the fact that the history of the Italian peninsula is so rich and so well known, many people forget that Italy is a very young country—even younger than the United States.  In fact, the Italy that we know today did not become unified until 1861 and Rome did not become her capital until 1871.   The vast Italian Risorgimento collection held in Archives and Special Collections contains three parts—books, pamphlets, and broadsides—and allows us to better understand the Italian revolutionary period that led up to Unification.

I had the privilege of working on the broadside collection, nearly 6000 documents that would have been hung in public spaces to convey important information to people living in a given city or town.  The collection is in fantastic condition, and it appears that most of these particular broadsides were not actually hung, but were collected and catalogued by various people in the different regions in which they were produced.  Documents in such good condition are rare, and allow us to not only see the progression of historical events, but also the innovations in printing that occurred over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.  The earliest documents in the collection are printed on thick paper, often with a more ornate typeface and with intricate regional mastheads. Over the course of 200 years, the paper quality declines and typefaces become more standardized.  While there are still ornate mastheads, they are not nearly as intricate as earlier examples.

Excerpt of broadside dated 1800 from the Italian Risorgimento Collection

Excerpt of broadside dated 1852 from the Italian Risorgimento Collection

One of the most interesting things about looking at the documents as whole – which are now accessible to the public and in chronological order— is that one can see the evolution of the various issues that they discuss.  One day, there might be a document warning about a potential epidemic (often cholera or bovine influenza) and a few days later there may be another instructing people on how to sterilize their homes and barns in order to prevent further infection.

Many of the documents also speak to the dramatic political changes that occurred in the Peninsula.  There are a significant number of broadsides from the Napoleonic period, when Napoleon and his forces were in control of Northern Italy.  Napoleon created the Cisalpine Republic, and there are many documents from this provisional government.  What is most interesting about these broadsides though, is that they use the newly created French Republican calendar, which had an entirely different month/day scheme from the traditional Gregorian system.  While this makes dating the broadsides a bit more difficult, is also shows us the influence of the French Revolution on Italy and how interconnected the two nations were during the 19th century.

As the collection is focused on the Risorgimento, which means Resurgence in Italian, it is fitting that the largest number of documents come from major revolutionary years 1831, 1848, and 1849.  While there are so many interesting documents to see, two that I found particularly fascinating came from 1849.  The first is a proclamation from the Roman Republic, which lasted for only 6 months, declaring freedom on religion.  This was a major development, not only because of Italy’s Catholic legacy, but because it was coming from Rome, the seat of the Pope.  Keeping with this theme of religion, I also discovered a Republican Catechism.  This document is structured in the question/answer format of a traditional catechism, but discusses revolutionary goals, enemies, and allies.  It is a perfect example of the marriage between tradition and innovation in the newly developing Italian state.

Republican catechism (catechismo repubblicano) dated 1849 from the Italian Risorgimento Collection

This is just a sampling of the rich materials to be found in the Italian Risorgimento Broadside collection, which will prove to be an invaluable historical resource.

– Jessica Strom, Graduate Intern

Update of Item of the Month (August 2009) Women’s Magazines and Fashion in 19th Century Spain collection

Women’s Magazines and Fashion in 19th Century Spain – A Snapshot of the Spanish Periodicals and Newspapers Collection

In 2009 I wrote my first Item of the Month regarding our holdings of Spanish women fashion magazines and our intention to digitize a selection of the collection to increase its access. Two years later we have completed this project successfully. Today many researchers from Spain have been downloading these unique titles. In the last two years some titles have been downloaded over 1,000 times! This numbers showcases the great popularity that this project have generated. We are proud to have made accessible this cultural heritage of the people of Spain and open up the opportunity to many other users (such as Spanish language teachers, women studies scholars, etc.) to experience these outstanding titles.

Below I am re-posting the information I wrote in 2009 with update information regarding where to find these digitized titles. Enjoy!

Marisol Ramos
Curator for Latin American and Caribbean Collections

Archival collections are fascinating not only for their content but for the context of their creation and acquisition. The Spanish Periodicals and Newspapers is no exception. This unique collection of Spanish magazines and newspapers is just a tiny part of the huge book and periodical collection that was assembled by renowned Spanish bibliophile Juan Perez de Guzman y Boza, Duque de T’ Serclaes. Born in 1852 in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros, the Duke was well known by antiquarian booksellers in Spain for his exquisite taste and voracious appetite for all types of Spanish books and publications. His ability to find and acquire unique and rare materials was legendary and it was not uncommon to find specialized bibliographies of Spanish materials citing that the only copy available was in the hands of the Duke*. Toward the end of his life, the Duke collection was in deposit at the National Library in Spain, but after his death in 1934, his collection was sold in lots by his heirs. In the 1970s the Special Collections Department at the Wilbur Cross Library (the predecessor to Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center) acquired this collection of periodicals and newspaper through H.P. Kraus Periodicals.

Today, this collection is housed in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The variety of magazines and newspapers amassed by the Duke of T’ Serclaes include a great variety of literary magazines, general interest magazines (literature, sciences, and politics), religion, women and fashion magazines, and other subjects. The collection spans three centuries (18th to early 20th century) of Spanish life, culture and politics. The bulk of the collection falls between the 1800-1840, which reflects major events in history of Spain (the Napoleonic period and the Wars of Independence in Spain).

Of great interest is the wide selection of women magazines written by men to appeal to a female elite audience. Ranging from literary and general interest magazines, full of short historical stories, poems, and good advice for both men and women about the proper behavior of ladies at any age, to beautiful colored and engraved fashion magazines with the latest news of Paris fashion, with music sheets of polkas and other music specifically composed for the magazines and patterns for needlework, these magazines are a window to understand the Romantic Period in Spain.

A selection of these women magazines (20 titles) were digitized in 2010 and now available through the Internet Archives. To see the complete listing of title digitized visit, http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/collections/spanwomen.htm

For more information regarding the Spanish Periodicals and Newspaper Collection, contact Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latin American and Caribbean Collections.

*See Hartzenbusch, D. Eugenio. Apuntes para un catalogo de periódicos madrilenos desde el año 1661 al 1870 and Gomez Imaz, Manuel. Los periódicos durante la Guerra de la Independencia (1808-1814).