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.

frontCubanMap

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.

 



Avellaneda on her 200th Anniversary

gertrudis_sab This year marks the bicentenary of the birth of acclaimed Cuban poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).  To commemorate the occasion, we have digitized her anti-slavery novel Sab, first published in 1841 in Spain. To see additional material from our collections, please visit our Avellaneda digital exhibit.

 

 

 

 

 

 



New CHC Digital Collection Sheds Light on Abolition in Cuba

Guest post by Timothy A. Thompson, Metadata Librarian, and Ana D. Rodríguez, former CHC Metadata Assistant

The CHC is continually working to publish new digital collections from its unique archival holdings. One of the most recent additions to the CHC Digital Collections is a group of rare historical manuscripts that sheds light on an important period in Cuban history. The Junta Provincial de Patronato de Matanzas Records contain official documents created between 1871 and 1889, when Spain was slowly moving to abolish slavery on the island. This blog post provides some historical context for the collection and then highlights a series of enhancements designed to make the collection more accessible to online users.

The abolition of slavery in Cuba involved a gradual process that unfolded over the course of nearly 20 years. The final stage of that process began in 1880, when the Spanish colonial government passed the “Ley de Patronato,” which declared a formal end to slavery but left the old system largely intact under a different name. The term given to the new, transitional system was patronato, which could be loosely translated as “sponsorship” or “apprenticeship.” With a stroke of the pen, former slaves became known as patrocinados, or apprentices, and former masters became known as patronos, or sponsors.

One of the documents in the collection illustrates the largely superficial nature of the transition between the two systems:

Detail from a document granting Francisco Ortega permission to relocate his patrocinado named Marcelo to the municipality of Macuriges, July 21, 1880. View full record for this image.

In this document (a “pase de tránsito” issued during the first year of the patronato period), the word “esclavos” has simply been crossed out, and the word “patrocinados” has been written above it.

To help make these historical documents more accessible to online users, the Libraries’ Cataloging & Metadata Services division undertook a pilot project for creating enhanced descriptions for digitized items. In the world of digital libraries, these descriptions are known as “metadata” (data about data). For example, this collection represents our first effort to include detailed metadata in Spanish for major descriptive fields like Title (Título), Note (Nota), Subject (Tema), Genre (Género), and Physical Description (Descripción Física).

It is also our first collection to feature three new fields: Sender and Recipient (for correspondence) and Geo Point (for coordinates and links to the the website GeoNames.org). Links in the Geo Point field will take users directly to a map for the location being referenced.

On the collection’s homepage, separate “browse” pages have been created for “Tema” (Spanish subjects), Subjects, Sender, and Recipient. Finally, four “Collection Highlights” have also been included on the collection homepage. These highlights are meant to draw attention to the human stories behind the documents in the collection.

We hope you will check out these new features, and we would like to enlist your help in evaluating them. If you can, please take a moment to explore the collection and then fill out this brief survey (available in English or Spanish). Your feedback will help us assess our pilot project and will contribute to shaping our descriptive practices for future digital collections.

 

References

Scott, Rebecca J. (1983). “Gradual Abolition and the Dynamics of Slave Emancipation in Cuba, 1868-86.” Hispanic American Historical Review, 63(3), 449-477.



Newly Digitized: programs and playbills of Havana’s Patronato del Teatro

Now available online are programs and playbills of performances at the Patronato del Teatro theater in Havana, Cuba.  These materials form part of the Patronato del Teatro Ephemera Collection. The theater presented modern theater works by Hispanic authors as well as English-language plays translated into Spanish and was active from the late 1940s until the late 1950s.



Newly Digitized: completed digital projects in fall 2012

The Libraries’ Digital Projects team worked diligently during the fall 2012 semester to make steady progress on digitization goals. The team digitized and created metadata for several new collections and additions to existing collections. Their efforts are now available to the public and viewable at any time on the UM Digital Collections website.

In January, we announced the digitization of a new digital collection containing 19th century papers of the Junta Revolucionaria Cubana from the Ramiro Casañas Collection, which included a total of 664 pages of correspondence documenting the activities of the Junta’s chapters in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York. In addition to this new collection, the team was able to add material to existing collections:

 

To view other digital collections, visit the CHC Digital Collections website »



Newly Digitized: 19th century papers of the Junta Revolucionaria Cubana from the Ramiro Casañas Collection

Now available online are letters and documents of the Junta Revolucionaria Cubana (Cuban Revolutionary Committee) in the United States dating from 1850 to 1872.  These materials form part of the Ramiro Casañas Collection. Documenting the activities of the Junta’s chapters in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York, the digitized materials include letters to and from Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros, Domingo de Goicouría and Porfirio Valiente among other notable historical figures.



Notes from the Conservation Lab: preserving Bacardí family documents found in the Cuban Museum collection

We recently digitized a group of late 19th and early 20th century manuscripts, letters, and other documents of the Bacardí family (including four letters from José Martí) that are part of the collection of the former Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture. In 1974, the Museum began collecting and displaying works of art by Cuban artists, both living in Cuba and abroad, and by Cuban Americans. While it focused primarily on visual arts, the Museum also added historical documents and related materials to its holdings. From 1982 to 1991, the Museum had a home in Little Havana and was renamed the Cuban Museum of the Americas in the 1990s. When it closed in 1999, the Museum’s collection came to the University of Miami, with its works of arts added to the Lowe Art Museum and its historical and administrative records transferred to the Cuban Heritage Collection.

The Bacardí family materials found in Cuban Museum collection required conservation treatment, principally due to paper decay caused by iron gall ink. Duvy Argandoña, Conservation Assistant, has been treating some of these materials over the past month. Take a sneak peek below at how it all comes together.

Click thumbnails to enlarge.



Newly Digitized: Tobacco Art Collection contains art and ephemera associated with the Cuban tobacco industry

We are happy to share our recently digitized Tobacco Art Collection. Spanning the late 19th and 20th centuries, this collection contains art and ephemera associated with the Cuban tobacco industry. Items include commercial tobacco packaging labels, cigar trademarks, several cigar bands, and two cigar boxes. The materials consist of various gifts that have been brought together under this collection. The tobacco industry in Cuba stretches far into the island’s colonial past, when Spanish settlers built large plantations throughout the countryside. Pinar del Río province quickly became the heartland of tobacco agriculture. Cuban cigars gained international renown in the 1800s. Some of the most famous Cuban tobacco brands can trace their history back over a century and a half.

Click thumbnails to enlarge.



Donor Stories: Ramiro A. Fernández

Click the image to watch the video.

Have you ever wondered how we come to acquire the historical materials in our Collection? So many of the resources we hold have been generously donated by individuals and families who value the history and culture of Cuba. Watch this video to hear from one of our donors, Ramiro A. Fernández, about his experiences collecting Cuban photographs and why he has donated some of them to the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Ramiro A. Fernández
Photo by Rankin

Ramiro A. Fernández is a well-known collector of Cuban photographs and images. Born in Havana and a graduate of Florida State University, Mr. Fernández worked as a photography editor for Time, Inc. for 25 years, including work with magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, People and People En Español, and Sports Illustrated. He is a Contributing Photo Editor for Americas Quarterly. In 2007, he published images from his collection in I Was Cuba (Chronicle Books). Since 2003, he has generously donated several hundred photographs to us, most of which we have digitized and made available online. These images document life in Cuba from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Thanks to donors like Mr. Fernández, we continue to build the most comprehensive research collection outside the island on Cuba and its diaspora and to enhance research, teaching, and learning opportunities for our students and faculty, our community, and the broader scholarly network.



Newly Redesigned: UM Libraries Digital Collections website


The UM Libraries Digital Collections has launched its newly redesigned website. The site features a fresh new layout, enhanced image viewers, more ways to browse the collections, and the ability to share your favorite images on Facebook, Twitter, and more.

The site contains over 70 collections and 50,000 items, including photographs, correspondence, manuscripts, sheet music, interviews, books, and periodicals. Visitors interested in Cuban materials can browse through the CHC Digital Collections, which include dozens of personal papers and ongoing projects such as the Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project.