Cuban-Americans Welcome President Frenk and Dr. Knaul

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 3, 2016) — University of Miami President Julio Frenk and his wife, Dr. Felicia Knaul, director of the Miami Institute for the Americas and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, shared in a celebration of Cuban history and heritage at a special dinner welcoming them to South Florida’s Cuban-American community and raising support for the mission of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC).

“The more I learn about the Cuban Heritage Collection, the more inspired and excited I feel about its future,” President Frenk said in his address to more than 250 guests, including community and University leaders, longtime supporters, and new friends of the CHC, gathered at the Newman Alumni Center on March 1.

“An Evening with the Cuban Heritage Collection: Welcoming President Julio Frenk and Dr. Felicia Knaul” was hosted by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection, the fundraising arm of the CHC that supports a wide array of programming aimed at expanding and furthering access to the collection.

Located at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion in the Otto G. Richter Library, the CHC houses the largest repository of historical materials on Cuba outside of the island.

“The Cuban Heritage Collection is more than documents, rare materials, and videos. It is the profound and personal testament of the people of Cuba,” said Amigos Chair Aldo Leiva, who co-chaired the event with Aida Levitan.

Frenk and Knaul visited the CHC soon after their arrival at the University in 2015, each taking part in tours of the archives. Knaul, as director of the Miami Institute for the Americas, said she looks forward to opportunities for scholarly collaboration with the CHC that will continue to “bring researchers from around the world to use this collection in its full depth.”

Proceeds from the event will support the CHC’s pursuit of “The Goizueta Challenge,” a fundraising opportunity that promises a $1 million unrestricted operating endowment from The Goizueta Foundation if the CHC raises $500,000 in donations. Dean and University Librarian Charles Eckman announced during the evening that the CHC had recently reached the halfway mark to the challenge.

“The support of many in this room will help sustain and expand programming such as oral history projects, exhibitions, events, digital collections, and new collection initiatives,” Eckman said.

Sponsors for the event included Mariita and George Feldenkreis; Fragomen, Del Rey, Bersen & Loewy, LLP; Leon Medical Centers; Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC; NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises; Ambassador Paul L. and Trudy Cejas; Century Homebuilders Group, LLC; FedEx Express, Latin America and Caribbean Division; Cuban American National Foundation; Enrique J. Sosa, Ph.D; Hogan Lovells, LLP; Iusfinder Abogados, Madrid; Knight Foundation; Professional Bank; The Bared Family Foundation, Inc.; U.S. Century Bank; Bacardi U.S.A., Incorporated; and Trias Flowers.

The Map Thief Book Talk by Michael Blanding on March 23


The Map Thief
The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
6:30 p.m.
Reception to follow

Special Collections
Otto G. Richter Library, 8th floor
University of Miami | 1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

Presented in partnership with Books & Books.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP to or call 305-284-4026

Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers—both as beautiful works of art and practical tools to navigate the world. For those that collect them, however, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and in some cases disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects. Michael Blanding’s The Map Thief delves into the untold history E. Forbes Smiley III, esteemed and respectable antiquarian map dealer, who spent years doubling as a map thief until he was finally arrested while delicately tearing maps out of books in the Yale University Library in 2005. He would later confess to the theft of 97 maps valued at over $3m total, and serve 42 months in prison for his crimes.

Praised by Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and many others, the book includes the results of an exclusive interview with Smiley before he went quiet, as well as the other individuals involved; from the dealers he worked with to the librarians affected by Smiley’s theft. Though Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, the libraries he victimized have uncovered hundreds more they accuse him of taking—along with some intriguing clues to prove it.

About the Author
3-BlazerSmile-crop_300x450Michael Blanding is the author of The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink (Avery, 2010), and a journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing long-form narrative and investigative journalism. Previously a staff writer and editor at Boston magazine, Blanding has since freelanced for publications including WIRED, Slate, The Nation, The New Republic, Consumers Digest, and the Boston Globe Magazine, where he has focused on investigative stories involving intensive research and interviews. Blanding has been named a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and a network fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. An amateur map lover, Blanding has a collection of international subway maps and bought his first antiquarian map while reporting this book.



Please click map image below to enlarge. Contact us at 305-284-4026 or with questions about directions and parking.


Remembering President Foote at the University Archives


Edward T. Foote, 4th President of the University of Miami

Written by Koichi Tasa and Sarah Block

Staff at the University Archives were saddened by the news of President Foote’s passing on Monday. University Archivist Koichi Tasa and Archives Assistant Marcia Heath each have fond memories of assisting the former president with archival materials during his tenure.

“President Foote was a very kind person who was always willing to give his time and knowledge to help others,” says Heath, who helped the former president contribute materials to his presidential archive from 2002 to 2008.

Tasa got to know President Foote in 2010 when he contacted the Archives for assistance in accessing his papers. “He was a very important leader for the U and for our local community,” Tasa said. “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family.”

A summary of Foote’s legacy is featured in the current exhibition Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, located on the first floor of Otto G. Richter Library:

During the time that Edward T. “Tad” Foote II was formally named the fourth president of the University of Miami, South Florida was in the midst of a crisis. Social instability shook many parts of Miami following a rapid surge in immigration with the Mariel boatlift from Cuba as well as race riots over the death of Arthur McDuffie, both of which occurred in 1980.

Foote, seemingly undaunted by the area’s problems, saw only the opportunity for UM to work closer with the community. In his inauguration speech, he spoke of creating a special task force at UM to examine how the University could offer any assistance to those working to solve immediate community problems. It was also Foote who beautified the campus itself, developing a comprehensive landscape plan for the University that would transform it into a magnificent botanical garden—a living laboratory.

President Foote’s presidential papers, preserved by the University Archives, will be available to the public after 2030 upon approval of the Office of the President.

Case 7 of the Richter Exhibition "Pan American University" dedicated to President Foote

Case  dedicated to President Foote in Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, on view at Richter Library.

Class Project Breathes Life into Historical Documents

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Stereoscopic card showing black men with wheelbarrows and shovels with caption, “Negroes at work near Cristobal, Panama.” Slave Documents Collection, University of Miami Special Collections

In her own academic career, English professor and PhD candidate Allison Harris has spent a significant amount of time in archives, using records dating back to the historical periods she’s studying to support research and to breathe life into her writing. Taking her African-American Literature students to the archives for a project focused on the era of slavery, however, was an idea actually inspired in a cemetery, miles away from the archives.

“I was walking there with a friend and we were thinking about the lives of the people buried there and the legal and social constructions of personhood beyond death,” Harris explains. It was in the midst of gravestones, many inscribed with only a name and a range of dates, that she thought about how the briefest details of a person’s life can evoke wonder about a long ago experience. “Together we brainstormed ways that students could use creative writing to engage with these constructions of personhood.”

After the students enrolled in Harris’s course visited UM Special Collections’ Slave Documents Collection in the fall 2015 semester, they created stories based on real individuals from history referenced in letters by plantation owners, bills of sale, and other legal and personal documents preserved from the pre-Civil War era. The eight short stories, together known as the Slave Narrative project, are told from the perspective of slaves documented in the records.

“Part of the goal of the assignment was to make the documents come to life through plot and conflict. But more importantly, they were to give their characters a rich and vibrant interiority that explored the emotional and spiritual limitations and silences of these archives,” Harris says.

Visit the Slave Narrative Project

The Slave Narrative project, now permanently preserved and available to the public in UM Libraries Scholarly Repository, features the following short stories:

The Example
by Nathaniel Bradley
English Literature major (2018) from Aurora, Colorado

Her Taste of Freedom
by Orlandra Dickens
Sociology and Criminology major (December 2016) from Wilson, North Carolina

The Hill, Named after some White Man
by O’Shane Elliot
Political Science major (Spring 2016) from St. Petersburg, Florida

The Match
by Marcus Hines
Computer Science major (2017) from Los Angeles, California

Betsey Simons: Freedom at What Cost?
by Anthony Maristany
Neuroscience major (May 2017) from Miami, Florida

Earth and Ashes
by Michele Mobley
General Studies major (2017) from Wilmington, Delaware

A Narrative of the Torments and Unlikely Freedom of a Child Slave
by Hanna Taylor
Undecided major (2019) from San Rafael, California

Nameless People, Keep Trekking
by Brandi Webster
Sociology major (2017) from Naranja, Florida

To learn more about the Slave Documents Collection, visit Special Collections in person or online at

Hop into the Jalopy

hopJalopy-header-jmc_1000x307Hop into the Jalopy
Tales of “On-the-Road” Genealogical Research

Tuesday, March 15, 2016
6:30 p.m.

Otto G. Richter Library, 3rd Floor
University of Miami | 1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP to or call 305-284-4026

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2016, Professor Bill Walker, former university librarian at the University of Miami and the New York Public Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Director Emeritus of the Research Libraries, invites you to join him on his travels to unlock his Irish ancestors’ pasts.

Travel with Bill as he visits cemeteries and courthouses, small-town historical societies and public libraries, and the villages and streets where these early nineteenth-century settlers lived. This adventure delves into the lives of his great grandmothers, Harriet Bogle and Jane McCullough, two very determined and rugged pioneer women. Using his own work as an example, Walker sheds light on the rewarding process of genealogical research using a variety of resources. In addition to making use of online information, Bill Walker is a strong advocate for stepping away from the computer and taking to the road.

Please join us for a festive reception and genealogy presentation.



Please click map image below to enlarge. Contact us at 305-284-4026 or with questions about directions and parking.


Preserving the Present: 2015 Oral Histories Grant Helps Special Collections Document Caribbean Communities

The Caribbean Archive at the University of Miami Special Collections reflects profoundly upon what community can mean for universities and their libraries.

As one of the oldest archives on campus, its founding materials came from some of UM’s earliest supporters, their donations of rare and historical books and records driving some of the first archival efforts at the institution—then commonly called the “Pan American University.”

Today the archive is an important draw for scholars and researchers from around the world, with materials stretching back to the 1700s.


Ruby Romero-Issaev, director of Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida and daughter of the late Venezuelan composer Aldemaro Romero (left), participated in the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project sponsored by Florida Division of Culture. Her interview will available in UM Digital Collections in 2016.

“There has always been a focus on the Caribbean basin at the University of Miami, as it’s a region our faculty and leadership as well as our community have been invested in from the very beginning,” says Beatrice Skokan, manuscripts librarian at Special Collections who leads development and outreach for the Caribbean Archive.

“We have very old and rare maps, books, and correspondence, but we also collect materials that document modern life and families of the Caribbean basin,” Skokan explains. “We’re a resource on the Caribbean as well as the Caribbean diaspora that has led many from the region to South Florida.”

Yet it isn’t always the particularly rare or unique items that Skokan is seeking; she’s most interested in finding materials that are descriptive of the communities they represent. “It’s the everyday items, the recipes, albums, journals, and newspaper clippings that people hold onto as way of preserving their lives and experiences. Their stories help us document the diaspora experience as a part of Caribbean history.”

In 2015 the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs awarded Special Collections with a grant allowing the department to document the modern diaspora through a series of interviews with community members. The initiative, known as the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project, expands on the Libraries’ growing database of oral histories from across the Miami and South Florida region. “It combines our objectives with an age-old cultural tradition of the Caribbean basin, that of storytelling,” Skokan explains.

The project, which began recording in November 2015, so far includes artist Firelei Báez, Ron Bilbao (Florida Education Association), artist Edouard Duval-Carrié, Marlon Hill (The Miami Foundation), Gepsie Metellus (Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center), Ruby Romero-Issaev (Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida), and Althea Silvera (Florida International University Special Collections).

The first seven interviews will soon be available online at UM Libraries Digital Collections. There visitors can also access past oral history projects of UM Libraries including the Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories and the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project.

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts, and the State of Florida. If you are interested in learning more about this collection, please visit or call 305-284-3247.



Join Us for a Presentation of Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir by Wendy Sue Knecht on January 19


University of Miami Special Collections cordially invites you to a presentation of the book

Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir
by Wendy Sue Knecht

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Reception 6:30 p.m. | Presentation to follow

Otto G. Richter Library, 8th Floor
University of Miami | 1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP to or call 305-284-3247

As a “naïve, frizzy-haired college student” Wendy Sue Knecht joined Pan American World Airways in pursuit of a career filled with travel, adventure, and opportunity. Knecht will present her memoir Life, Love, and a Hijacking and share select readings from her book and a trailer for the film Neerja, based on the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73. Life, Love, and a Hijacking recounts Knecht’s own arrival in Pakistan on Flight 73 hours before the hijacking, the event, its aftermath, and the tragic story of heroic flight purser Neerja Bhanot. Knecht’s reading is part of ongoing efforts by Special Collections and the Pan Am community to document and share the stories of people connected to the historic airline.

Please click map image below to enlarge. Contact us at 305-284-3247 or with questions about directions and parking.


Join Us for a Presentation of George Merrick, Son of the South Wind by Arva Moore Parks on January 14

arvaParks-header_web-1000x323University of Miami Libraries cordially invite you to a presentation of the book

George Merrick, Son of the South Wind: Visionary Creator of Coral Gables
by Arva Moore Parks

Thursday January 14, 2016

Presentation 6 p.m. | Reception to follow
Otto G. Richter Library, 1st Flr
University of Miami | 1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

RSVP to or call 305-284-4026

As UM kicks off the 90th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Miami historian and University trustee Arva Moore Parks will present her latest book on Coral Gables’ founder and UM visionary George Merrick. Parks’ presentation at the library, co-sponsored by Books & Books, is in conjunction with the official opening of The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, an exhibition of historical materials from the Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections reflecting the University’s enduring connection to Latin America and the Caribbean.