Category Archives: From our collections

Donor Stories: Rotary Club Miami-Granada

The Rotary Club Miami-Granada recently donated a series of documents dating to 1916, when the historic Havana Chapter of Rotary International (RI), from which the club originates, was established. The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) recognized the Miami-Granada club’s donation at a June 30 event at the CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion.

The Havana Rotary Club was the “first RI chapter established outside of the United States in a Spanish-speaking country,” explained the chapter’s president, Dr. Réne López-Guerrero.


Ellen Blasi, a former District Governor of Rotary International, introduces Dr. Réne López-Guerrero, president of the Rotary Club Miami-Granada at the club’s centennial anniversary event on June 30 at the CHC.

From its inception, the club’s list of achievements grew exponentially, providing RI with four directors and sponsoring the foundation of 43 other Cuban clubs. After a 25-year hiatus precipitated by the 1959 Cuban revolution, the Havana Rotary Club was reborn in 1985 in Miami, Florida, as the Rotary Club Miami-Granada to continue its legacy of “Rotary Serving Humanity.”

In a letter read during the event, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio recognized the important collaboration of the CHC and Rotary Club Miami-Granada. “I am humbled to learn of the many accomplishments the Rotary Club Miami-Granada has made of service to others in their communities,” Sen. Rubio writes. “As the son of Cuban parents I share with you a sense of pride and joy during this meaningful event as you share with others a rich and plentiful history.”

The documents are now available in the Rotary Club of Miami-Granada Collection, 1916-1985, for the permanent use of scholars and researchers.  Material will be added to the collection on an on-going basis.

UM Libraries Celebrates South Florida’s Caribbean Voices

By Sarah Block

Click the image to view all interviews online.

In his work as a corporate attorney Marlon Hill represents artists and creatives in the South Florida area seeking to build a brand. Outside of the courtroom, however, Hill is an advocate for those who are grappling with issues of identity as individuals in a new land and culture.

“I feel very strongly about helping any student who is going through a process of acclimation, assimilation, and integration,” he explains in his oral history interview at the University of Miami Special Collections as part of its new Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. “The success of that person and that person’s family is dependent on how those three areas of immigration are. They can make or break a family.”


Artist Edouard Duval Carrie shared his story at Special Collections in the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. Highlights from each of the oral history interviews are available on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Hill, a Miami resident originally from Jamaica, said his own struggles in the immigration process as a teenager fueled a desire for mentoring new immigrants, as early as his college years. Today he joins a growing list of South Florida community members of Caribbean origin who are telling their stories in the series sponsored by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

So far, more than 20 individuals, including photojournalist Carl Juste, TV Producer/host Elizabeth Guérin, and artist Edouard Duval Carrie have taken part in the series, which spans topics surrounding their various experiences and contributions to the South Florida community in such areas as art and media, education, entrepreneurship, and activism.

“Our interviewees are individuals who are actively involved in a creative blending of their immigration experience with their lives in the United States,” said Special Collections’ Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan, who led the project, at a July 13 celebration of the series that recognized its first group of participants.


UM Libraries Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan thanks donors during the reception.

Skokan describes the series as an important initiative for Special Collections and its Caribbean Archive, which houses rare maps, books, and correspondence as well as materials that document modern life and families of the Caribbean basin. “The South Florida region, with its multiplicity of migrations, has become an ideal setting for the historical documentation of hemispheric encounters,” Skokan says. “This is about documenting the experience of people who inhabited Caribbean regions from their point of view—unedited by another’s gaze and interpretation.”

Many of the department’s most rare and historical Caribbean materials, dating back to the 1700s, were donated by some of UM’s earliest supporters, underscoring one of the region’s and the University’s enduring strengths. At his January inauguration, President Julio Frenk described a “hemispheric” aspiration as one of four defining visions for the future of the University.


Oral history donors Marlon Hill (second from right) and Elizabeth Guérin (right) with guests at Special Collections’ Caribbean Voices reception.

The ongoing series is now accessible to students, scholars, and the general public for research on a variety of topics related to South Florida’s Caribbean diaspora. It currently features individuals of Haitian, Dominican, Bahamian, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Colombian origins, among others, with the intent of continued growth as new funding becomes available.

Interviews, which were conducted by Julio Estorino and Lucrèce Louisdhon-Louinis along with Skokan, are accessible from UM Libraries’ website. Additional oral history projects of UM Libraries include the Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories; the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project and Human Rights Oral History Project; and collaborations with National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, including StoryCorps Historias and StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative (carried out with the nonprofit Warmamas), which is currently in process.

Current participants of the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project include:

Elizabeth Baez, Artist/Educator

Firelei Báez, Artist

Ronald Bilbao, Legislative Specialist

Lucy Canzoneri-Golden, Artist/Educator

Tiberio Castellanos, Journalist

Edouard Duval Carrié, Artist

Elizabeth Guérin, TV Producer/Host

Roberto Guzmán, Linguist/Writer

Marlon Hill, Attorney

Carl Juste, Photojournalist

Fr. Alejandro López, Priest

Gepsie Metellus, Community Leader

Francisco Portillo, Immigration Activist

María Rodriguez, Activist

Ruby Romero-Issaev, Producer/Marketing Director

Nora Sandigo, Immigration Activist

Althea “Vicki” Silvera, Archivist

Patricia Sowers, Nonprofit Director

Nixon St. Hubert (DJ Nickymix), DJ/Producer

Federico Uribe, Artist

Dr. Freddie G. Young, Educator/Community Leader

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, or to recommend someone for this project, please call 305-284-3247.

Event photos by Mitchell Zachs.

Join Us for a Conversation with María Martínez-Cañas and J. Tomás López


“La Quinta Columna Te Espía” in Quince Sellos Cubanos.

University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection will present a conversation with María Martínez-Cañas, artist of Quince Sellos Cubanos, and J. Tomás López, professor of Art and Art History, at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 6:30 p.m.

Martínez-Cañas reimagined iconic images from the Cuban stamp collection she’s had since childhood. A limited-edition series of her renowned portfolio, Quince Sellos Cubanos, is now on view at Richter Library. The exhibition features 15 gelatin silver prints alongside the original Cuban stamps that inspired her work.

Martínez-Cañas will discuss her work with Professor López, who is also head of the Electronic Media and Photography area at UM. As a photographer, Professor López’s prints are part of several major collections, including those of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of American Arts, and the International Museum of Photography.

Please join us for a reception and conversation with María Martínez-Cañas and J. Tomás López on her work and exploration of history, memory, and identity.

The exhibition will run through December 2015.

This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP to Ivett Uria at 305-284-4026 or

Please click map image below to enlarge. Contact us at 305-284-4026 or with questions about directions and parking.8608e468-9c3c-47d6-aaa6-cc3685281391


Miró Cardona audio recordings online

José Miró Cardona

Now online: 74 audio recordings from the José Miró Cardona collection including speeches, interviews, and radio broadcasts from the 1960s. The majority of these recordings are speeches and interviews with Miró Cardona and broadcasts of the radio program La voz del Consejo Revolucionario de Cuba. They also include interviews with exile leaders and activists Manuel Antonio Varona, Manuel Ray, and others; radio broadcasts from Cuba; and an interview by Cuban journalists with José Miró Torra, Miró Cardona’s son, who was captured during the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

A lawyer and politician who served as Prime Minister of Cuba for just over one month in early 1959, Miró Cardona (1902-1974) was president of the Consejo Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Council), or CRC, the Cuban exile organization that worked with the CIA and the administration of US President John F. Kennedy to prepare the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961.

These reel-to-reel audio recordings form part of the José Miró Cardona Papers held by the Cuban Heritage Collection.


New digital collection of maps of Cuba pre-1923

 Editor’s Note: A version of this post authored by Lyn MacCorkle, Digital Repositories Librarian, appeared in the University of Miami Libraries Digital Collections Newsletter in December 2014.  

The University of Miami Libraries Digital Collections recently debuted a new online collection of over 100 maps of Cuba dating from the 16th century to 1923. Drawing from the Cuban Heritage Collection’s holdings, the new digital collection includes general maps of the island, provincial maps, city and town maps, tourist maps, and other specialized map formats in a variety of scales, colors, and artistic styles.


The online platform gives researchers enhanced access to the materials, allowing them to browse and search through the collection and zoom in on fine details. Digitizing these resources also helps preserve the maps by reducing the need to handle originals.

Stay tuned for more. Maps still in copyright are also being digitized and will be available for online consultation in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion.





Espantado de todo, me refugio en tí.

Tengo fé en el mejoramiento humano, en la vida

futura, en la utilidad de la virtud, y en tí.”


José Martí (28 de enero de 1853 – 19 de mayo de 1895)


From the first edition of José Martí's Ismaelillo (New York, 1882), a book of poems dedicated to his son.

Página de la primera edición del Ismaelillo de José Martí, su poemario dedicado a su hijo José Francisco. Publicado en Nueva York en 1882.


Life in an Archive: Examining Operation Pedro Pan, 1960-1962

Program Brought 14,000 Unaccompanied Children to the U.S.

by Natalie Baur, Cuban Heritage Collection Archivist


A young girl holds her doll as she arrives in the United States with the Operation Pedro Pan Program, circa 1960-1962. From “Cuba’s children in exile: the story of the Unaccompanied Cuban Refugee Children’s Program.” Cuban Refugee Center pamphlet, 1967. (Cuban Refugee Center Records, CHC0218).

Between 1960 and 1962, more than fourteen thousand unaccompanied children left their families in Cuba for a new life in the United States, many of them arriving through Miami. They came as part of a program run by the Catholic Welfare Bureau (Catholic Charities) of Miami, with the support of the U.S. Department of State, known as Operation Pedro Pan. Through the program a large number of children were reunited with family already in the United States, but about half spent their early years in their new country under the care of the Catholic Welfare Bureau. Operation Pedro Pan is an important part of U.S. immigration history, Miami history, and a powerful moment in the Cuban exile community.

In 1961, a month before her fifteenth birthday, Cuban Heritage Collection staff member Gladys Gómez Rossie boarded an airplane alone in Havana and started her journey to the home of an aunt and uncle living in New York. Eventually relocating to Miami when her unaccompanied younger brother arrived, seventeen years passed before Gladys was reunited with her parents in the United States.


Cuban boys take a sled ride in Columbus, Ohio, circa 1960s. (Cuban Refugee Center Records, CHC0218)

Because of her own experiences, Gladys is dedicated to helping tell her own story and those of countless other Pedro Pan alumni through the power of the archives. Gladys uses materials from the Cuban Heritage Collection archives to share the dynamic history of Operation Pedro Pan with members of the University of Miami’s Federation of Cuban Students, for which she serves as the group’s adviser. Now a beloved annual event for the group, many students look forward to the Operation Pedro Pan presentation as a way to learn about the immigration experiences of their parents and grandparents through photographs, documents, and guest speakers.

Many of the memories and stories around Operation Pedro Pan are preserved and open for study and reflection at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Starting last year, Florida Atlantic University intern Alexandra Díaz processed collections relating to Operation Pedro Pan and created an online subject guide to help users explore the Cuban Heritage Collection’s holdings on the experiences of Pedro Pan families.

James Baker (right), former director of the Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, receives an award with Monsignor Bryan Walsh (left) at an Operation Pedro Pan alumni event in 1980 recognizing their instrumental work in organizing Operation Pedro Pan. (Ruston Academy Records, CHC5293).

James Baker (right), former director of the Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, receives an award with Monsignor Bryan Walsh (left) at an Operation Pedro Pan alumni event in 1980 recognizing their instrumental work in organizing Operation Pedro Pan. (Ruston Academy Records, CHC5293).

Stay tuned throughout Archives Month for stories about how UM students, researchers, donors, and community members are breathing life into UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections. Happy Archives Month!

This Just In: Fragmentos: Revista Mensual

by Mei Mendez, CHC Librarian


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.