This Just In: Fragmentos: Revista Mensual

by Mei Mendez, CHC Librarian

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Fragmentos: Revista Mensual

Last year, the Cuban Heritage Collection received several volumes of the Cuban Jewish periodical Fragmentos: Revista Mensual through the generosity of Mr. Moisés Pitchón, whose father, Marco Pitchón, was the editor of the magazine.  The Collection’s holdings of this work range from Volume 4 (January 1955) to Volume 11 (July/September 1964).  With permission from Mr. Pitchón, these issues have been digitized and are available in our digital library.  You can find them here.

Marco Pitchón was born in Turkey and migrated from France to Cuba in 1923.  He founded the B’nai Brith Maimonedes chapter in Havana in 1943 and launched its monthly newsletter, Fragmentos: Revista Mensual. Written in Spanish, Fragmentos was published as a short pamphlet, four pages long, and included a supplement. Articles featured on the front page addressed topics ranging from cinematic portrayals of the Second World War to specific world events or even letters received by the editor.  Inside, shorter articles highlighted important dates in the Jewish calendar.  Several of the supplements found inside the magazine contain letters expressing support for the (then) upcoming publication of the book Jose Martí y la comprensión humana, edited by Pitchón and also published by B’nai Brith.  This book has also been digitized and can be found here.

Special thanks to Moreno Habif for facilitating the donation of Fragmentos to the Cuban Heritage Collection.



UM Libraries’ Archivists Kick Off “Life in an Archive” Series

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by Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

October has been designated by the Society of American Archives as Archives Month, a collaborative effort by professional organizations, libraries, and archives around the nation to highlight the importance of the records we hold and to raise public awareness about the value of historical records and collections.

To celebrate Archives Month, archivists and librarians from UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections will be sharing stories from our experiences working in the archives at the University of Miami. The series will be called “Life in an Archive,” focusing on the stories of people who have used and/or donated to our collections.

Stories will be told from the perspective of archivists who have had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world:

  • University Archivist Koichi Tasa will talk about leading UM alumni and their family members to photographs and records from their time at UM.
  • Cuban Heritage Collection Librarian Meiyolet Méndez and Archivist Natalie Baur will discuss helping researchers make new discoveries on Cuba and its diaspora.
  • Special Collections Librarian Jay Sylvestre and Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan will show how artist’s books, zines, and other unique materials held at Special Collections have impacted people’s lives.
  • Electronic Records Archivist Laura Capell and Visiting Archivist Emily Gibson will share stories from working with the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records Collection.

It is interactions like these with members of our community that provide the archivists and librarians at UM Libraries with a rich set of stories to share. Stay tuned for posts this month about alumni, veterans, researchers, and donors who have allowed us to be a part of their journey. I hope that you enjoy reading our stories as much as we enjoy sharing them.

Happy Archives Month!



Scholar Spotlight: Maikel Fariñas Borrego

Maikel Fariñas Borrego was a 2013-2014 CHC Graduate Pre-Prospectus Fellow. A doctoral student in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he authored the following report about his fellowship and his research on “Regional Pressure Groups in Cuba: Local Elites and Conflicting Interests, 1888-1968.” 

Maikel Fariñas BorregoI was in residence at the Cuban Heritage Collection as a Pre-Prospectus Fellow from June through July 2013. The number and variety of sources I consulted have proven to be highly valuable to my project. As my project is focused on the study of local to national and transnational civil society, the elites and their conflicting interests in the twentieth century, the expressions of sociability and associations in particular are extremely important. Between 1888 and the 1930s many new forms of associations were established in Cuba. Both the Spanish traditions and the North American culture inspired a considerable number of organizations. This second influence, however, attracted the elites overwhelmingly. Many of the new organizations started in Havana and later spread all over the country. The social hierarchies and class distinctions were majorly shaped by the actions and members of the new incoming clubs. That is why a case study of Rotary International, its influences in Cuba, and the local Rotary Clubs throughout the archipelago can inform about both civil societies interactions. The Rotarian organizations and the global networks of Rotary Clubs got to spread profusely in Cuba. In this process, aside of their typical philanthropic aims, they intervened in almost every sphere of the country’s economy, politics and even foreign affairs.

Among the pamphlets and books, many materials will allow me to study the special relationship that these social clubs held with chambers of commerce, especially the “Cámara de Comercio de la República de Cuba” and the “American Chamber of Commerce of Cuba.” There are directories which can be studied as databases to identify the common members of the two organizations. In addition, there are other books providing abundant information on these institutions (e.g. American Chamber of Commerce of Cuba. Cuba: Facts and Figures). In rare books we can also appreciate the importance of an American community in Cuba and how far they managed to establish themselves on the Island of Pines (Stephen Chalmers. Isle of Pines: Where the Pine and the Palm Tree Meet). This is particularly relevant to the intervention of Cuban Rotarians on the Cuban claims of sovereignty over the second largest island of the archipelago; which was finally established in 1925 after the ratification of the Hay-Quesada treaty. Many materials are specifically related to Rotary and Lions in Cuba (e.g. Club de Leones de La Habana. Directorio año social 1947-1948 and the Club Rotario Marianao. Directorio 1958-59). These booklets can provide essential information about the membership, the type of Rotarian businesses and even the places they chose for residence on the island. By understanding similar organizations such as Lions Clubs I gain a more in depth comprehension of Rotarians.

Another point to consider is the importance of the close relationship of Cuban Rotarians with their peers in the United States during World War II (Rotary Club of Havana. A hundred letters from the front). Conferences of the Rotarian district (Rotary Club of Marianao. Memoria de la XXXIII Conferencia del distrito 101: sede, Club Rotario de Marianao) left behind abundant sources of information. The many lectures given at Rotarian gatherings promoted a patriotic spirit among Cubans (e. g. Raúl Maestri. Movilización económica de las Américas and Luis Rodolfo Miranda. Homenaje a José Martí en el Club Rotario  de la Habana). It should be mentioned that yearbooks are especially important because of the amount of information they can provide to the investigation (Distrito 25º de Rotary International. Memoria de las actividades desarrolladas por el Dr. Manuel Galigarcía, Gobernador del Distrito 25º de Rotary International).

Abundant archival sources related to the culture of the exile document how Rotarians and Lions formed a substantial part of the integration of Cubans who came to Miami after the Revolution of 1959. The vertical files were informative about this process as well as for many other Cuban institutions and national and local personalities. Other important collections at the CHC contributed substantively to my research (e. g. Gerardo Machado y Morales Papers, Lydia Cabrera Papers, and José Lezama Lima Papers).

The collections are carefully preserved and the work environment that permeates the CHC is very supportive of research. The staff provides the best of services and I want to thank in particular Maria Estorino, Gladys Gomez-Rossie, Annie Sansone-Martinez, Meiyolet Mendez, Rosa Monzon-Alvarez. Thanks to them, their service and the preservation of documents, we can count on these collections to write a significant portion of the history of Cuba, the Caribbean, and Latin America.





Materials on View

The Cuban Heritage Collection has contributed books, photographs, documents, and original art from our holdings to four external exhibitions on view this fall. If you see our materials at any of these, snap a photograph and tag us on Instagram or Twitter @UMCHC.

Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds at the Boston College McMullen Museum of Art, August 30-December 14, 2014, at the High Museum of Art Atlanta, February 14-May 24, 2015

Margarita Cano: Once Upon an Island at the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus Centre Gallery, September 4-October 31, 2014

Kept at Bay: Art on Guantánamo at Florida International University’s Frost Art Museum, September 10-October 19, 2014

The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom at Miami-Dade College Museum of Art + Design at Freedom Tower, opening on September 19, 2014

 







Scholar Spotlight: Alexis Baldacci

Alexis Baldacci was a 2013-2014 CHC Graduate Pre-Prospectus Fellow. A doctoral student in history at the University of Florida, she authored the following report about her fellowship and her research on The Haves and Have-Nots: Material Culture in Revolutionary Cuba and the Cuban Diaspora, 1959-1980.

bonnie2_thumb2Thanks to the generous funding of the Goizueta Foundation and the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection, I was able to spend one month between July and August 2013 reviewing a wide array of materials at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Though preliminary in nature, the research that I conducted at the CHC proved enormously helpful in establishing the viability of my project. The Pre-Prospectus Fellowship enabled me to explore my rather large research questions to a degree to which I had not yet been able, and I now have a much better sense of the kinds of sources available dealing with material culture and consumption in revolutionary Cuba. I not only came away from the experience with a wealth of documents that will no doubt prove foundational to my dissertation, but also with a clear conceptual framework and sharper focus for my project.

My dissertation research centers on material culture in revolutionary Cuba from 1959 to roughly 1989. I am interested in experiences of consumption and scarcity prior to the Special Period of the 1990s, and I hope to explore the social, cultural, and political ramifications of both consumption and scarcity in the distinct environment of revolutionary Cuba, where revolutionaries struggled to create a classless society and state rationing promised, but not always delivered, access to basic goods. The official discourse found in speeches and the state press is only one part of the story, and I intend to use film, oral history, and correspondence to counterbalance the top-down version of events. My aim is to better understand the everyday experiences of the Cuban revolution though the tripartite lens of basic necessities: food, housing, and clothing.

It would be impossible to detail all of the sources that I consulted at the CHC – which ranged from cookbooks to fashion magazines – in the limited space available to me. Instead, I will focus on two collections that were especially rich for my purposes. The first, the Burdsall Papers, is a collection of letters exchanged between Lorna Burdsall, an American dancer who married a Cuban revolutionary and lived on the island from 1955 until her death in 2010, and her family, for the most part located in the United States. The Burdsall Papers span the entire three decades that I am interested in, and form a particularly unique window into revolutionary Cuba for two key reasons. The first is that the Burdsalls were from the United States. This led Lorna and the family members that visited her in Cuba to write their letters with an eye toward their American audience, explaining things in great detail that many Cubans would have taken for granted or expected their audience to be familiar with. The second is that Burdsall was married to Manuel Piniero, a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer, which granted her privileged opportunities to receive packages from the United States through the Ministry of Exterior Relations and to travel abroad and purchase goods unavailable in Cuba, despite the travel restrictions placed on the greater populace. Burdsall’s letters are a fascinating window into both scarcity and privilege, and the benefits that she received through her husband’s political position cast doubt on the sincerity of Cuban officials’ efforts to build a classless society.

The second collection that was especially useful for my purposes was the Jose Lezama Lima Papers. The often beautiful letters that Lezama Lima wrote to his sisters in Florida clearly reveal preoccupations with scarcity and the changes that it wrought on everyday life in Cuba; however, his concerns are quite different from Burdsall’s, throwing her privileged lifestyle further into relief. Lezama Lima’s discussions of the colas and line culture provide especially interesting insights into the stress that everyday tasks, such as waiting in lines to pick up the dry cleaning or buy groceries, put on the elderly and infirm.

I think it only fair to conclude by thanking the staff of the CHC, as they are one of the Collection’s finest resources. Were it not for their helpful suggestions, challenging questions, and fascinating stories, my project would be a very different one.