The Cuban Map Collection

The Cuban Map Collection housed in the Cuban Heritage Collection contains maps dating from the 16th century to the 21st century. The online version of the Cuban Map Collection  found on the University of Miami Libraries Digital Collection site contains maps in the public domain dating from the colonial period to 1923 and 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 launch of the online Cuban Map Collection compliments the University of Miami Libraries’ current geographic and data visualization exhibit This Space, This Place. The online platform gives researchers enhanced access to the materials, allowing them to browse the collection and to zoom in on fine details. In addition to providing wider availability, the online collection helps us preserve the maps by making them available without unnecessary handling of the physical items.


Stay tuned for more. Maps still in copyright are also being digitized and will be available for online consultation in the Cuban Heritage Collection reading room.  For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or


Visit the Cuban Theater Digital Archive

The Cuban Theater Digital Archive (CTDA) is an online worldwide resource for historical materials related to Cuba’s renowned performing arts scene. Filmed productions, production stills, and many other theater-related materials are searchable in this bilingual, multimedia resource, drawn from more than twenty collections from the University of Miami Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection, the Center for Scenic Design Studies in Havana, and the holdings of individual collaborators in Cuba, the United States, and beyond.

The CTDA includes recordings of equity and non-equity productions digitized and filmed in Cuba and outside the island as well as information related to the subject of Cuban theater, with a special focus on theater produced by Cuban communities in the United States. The archive serves as a resource for teaching, learning, and research in Cuban theater and performance and related fields; a community repository for important Cuban theatrical materials; and a forum to foster scholarly communication in this field.

Cuban Theater Digital Archive
Click the image to visit the site.

Highlights of the CTDA include:

  • Over two hundred videoed productions and staged readings, as well as rehearsals and interviews of plays produced in Cuba, the United States, Spain, and Latin America.
  • An image database that includes over three thousand items digitized from the Cuban Heritage Collection as well as items received from theater practitioners.
  • A searchable directory of information on playwrights, directors, designers, actors, plays, productions, theater companies, theater venues, and awards.
  • More than 50% of the content has been the product of student research projects.

The CTDA allows project collaborators to add directory information and other resources via a backend data-entry module. When possible, site content is available for download and reuse in keeping with Creative Commons Open Content license requirements. CTDA content is also available through Scalar, a multimodal scholarly publishing platform.

Funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CTDA is managed as a digital humanities partnership between the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences and the Libraries, in cooperation with Cuba’s National Council for the Performing Arts and the Center for Scenic Design Studies.

In 2004, a web-based archive of information and images on Cuban theater in Cuba and the United States was created by Dr. Lillian Manzor, a University of Miami professor, with the technical and web development support of Lyn MacCorkle of the University of Miami Libraries Digital Initiatives. In early 2009, a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was awarded to evaluate the importance of the archive to theater scholars and students and to outline a sustainability plan for the project’s future. This funding provided the support needed to develop a more robust version of the initial site.

Materials that have been digitized for the CTDA.

Building the site required developing a new data model, software tools, hardware expertise, and a set of best practices to support enhancing multimedia content and collaborative authorship. A development outcome is an open source content management system designed specifically for documenting theater performance. The “Romeu” software platform uses the Django (Python) Framework; the software is available at GitHub.

The Video Digitization Technical Guide, a set of locally developed practices for filming theater performances, authored in consultation with expert video consultants, can be found here. The CTDA User Manual can be found here.

For information on the theoretical and technical aspects of site development, please consult Dr. Lillian Manzor or Mitsunori Ogihara.

For more information on the CTDA, please contact Dr. Lillian Manzor.

Manzor, Lillian, Mitsunori Ogihara, and Kyle Rimkus. “Cuban Theater Digital Archive: A Multimodal Platform for Theater Documentation and Research,” in Information Technologies for Performing Arts, Media Access, and Entertainment, edited by Paolo Nesi and Raffaella Santucci. 7990: 138-150. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2013.

CTDA Word Cloud


The Haitian Diaspora Oral History Digital Collection

The Haitian Diaspora Oral History Digital Collection includes videos and outlines of oral history interviews conducted with individuals of Haitian ancestry that are well renowned in the world of culture and the arts, education, community activism, civic leadership, and many professional organizations. In these interviews, musicians, artists, dancers, and writers explore the creative process, often through the lens of the diaspora experience, while showcasing the Haitian influence in the arts.

Educators, activists, and civic leaders share their experiences and their passion for supporting both their local community and the larger Haitian community.

Edwidge Danticut

Additional interviews from the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Digital Collection are available for research upon request at the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. A full description and list of all materials in this collection are available in the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection Finding Aid.

These oral histories express the views, memories, and opinions of the interviewee. They do not represent the viewpoints of the University of Miami, its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The University of Miami makes no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in these interviews and expressly disclaims any liability therefor.

Haitian Word Cloud

Copyright to these materials lies with the University of Miami. It may not be reproduced, retransmitted, published, distributed, or broadcast without the permission of the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. For information about obtaining copies or to request permission to publish any part of an interview, please contact Special Collections at


From Spain to Cuba: Federico García Lorca Papers

The Federico García Lorca Papers are comprised of letters from Spanish poet Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) to Cuban diplomat and writer José María Chacón y Calvo (1892-1969) and photographs of García Lorca’s visit to Cuba in 1930 and in Spain. It has been entirely digitized.


While serving as a diplomat with the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry on an assignment to Spain, Chacón y Calvo met the young García Lorca in Sevilla during the summer of 1922. Chacón y Calvo developed a friendship with the fledgling poet and in 1930 invited García Lorca to Cuba through the Institución Hispanocubana de Cultura (Hispano-Cuban Cultural Institute), an initiative established in 1926 by Cuban intellectual and anthropologist Fernando Ortíz. During Lorca’s time in Cuba, Chacón y Calvo and other Cuban intellectuals promoted Lorca’s work as a poet.


Upon his return to Spain, Lorca in turn shared his enthusiasm for Cuban literature by promoting the literary accomplishments of Cuban poets he had met and read along his journey. García Lorca’s trip to Cuba lasted only three months, but as evidenced through the correspondence presented here, the two men forged a deep friendship, and García Lorca’s letters demonstrate the impact that his experiences and impressions of Cuba had on him even after returning to Spain. Unfortunately, the friendship was cut short by García Lorca’s untimely death in 1936 during the first days of the Spanish Civil War. For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or


From the Cutting Edge: Herman Beller Photograph Collection

Herman Beller (1899-1972) was a skilled metalwork entrepreneur in Cuba. With his wife Jennie, Beller settled in Havana, Cuba, in the 1920s. He began his career by manufacturing die-cast metalwork for replacement parts for machinery and later manufactured body frames for school buses and desks, furniture for public buildings, municipal lamps, bronze commemorative plaques, and sculptural works for installations throughout Cuba. As a member of Cuba’s Jewish community, Beller also created religious and ceremonial metal pieces. Beller and his family left Cuba in the 1960s and settled in Hollywood, Florida, where he resided for the rest of his life.


The Herman Beller Photograph Collection contains photographs of metal works produced by the Darden-Beller Company and Beller’s Havana-based company, Industrias Unidas de Cuba. The collection contains a large group of photographs particularly detailing his work at the Parque de la Fraternidad in Havana, one of the larger public works projects Beller undertook.


All photographs and objects in the collection have been digitized. For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or

The Finlay B. Matheson Collection

An Early Developer’s South Florida: Photographs from the Matheson Family’s Collection

The Finlay B. Matheson Collection, digitized from the holdings of the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections, offers a unique visual representation of life in South Florida from the 1900s through the 1930s, with photographs and albums depicting the Matheson family, their residences, boats, activities, and travels. The Florida landscape, with a focus on Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove, is captured throughout the photographs and attests to a more leisurely lifestyle before the advent of skyscrapers and multi-lane highways.

These images document the life and times of William John Matheson and his immediate family, including his son Hugh and daughter Anna. William J. Matheson was a philanthropist, agriculturalist, and pioneer developer in South Florida in the early twentieth century, and was instrumental in the early development of Key Biscayne. Photographs in the collection depict development activities on Key Biscayne, as well as Matheson’s residence on the island known as “Mashta.” In addition, some of the first aerial view photographs of Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove, the Miami River, and the Florida Keys are represented in the collection, as well as images showing damage from the 1926 hurricane.


Many photos and albums document the interests and social activities of William J. Matheson and his family, providing a glimpse into the burgeoning social life of some of the region’s early inhabitants. There are numerous photos of activities at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and the Matheson family boats. Albums also document the family’s extensive travels on the east coast, the Caribbean, and around the world.

Additional materials from the Finlay B. Matheson Collection are available for research upon request at University of Miami Libraries Special Collections, including maps, surveys, and architectural drawings related to the early development of Key Biscayne. For more information, please contact Special Collections at 305-284-3247 or

In Search of Freedom

In Search of Freedom: Cuban Exiles and the Cuban Refugee Program

University of Miami Libraries Digital Collections and the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) have launched In Search of Freedom, a digital exhibit with forty-two photographs and publications illustrating the early years of the Cuban Refugee Program. Items were selected from Cuban Refugee Center Records, a large and significant CHC collection described in this Finding Aid.

The exhibit is arranged to contextualize the activities of the Cuban Refugee Program in the early 1960s through the initial years of its operation. The Program was created by the US Government to help manage the scale and impact of a large number of political exiles arriving in South Florida from Cuba in a relatively short period of time. Located in downtown Miami, Program facilities provided needed aid to individuals and families in the form of language classes, job training, child services, medical services, and food banks. In addition, the Cuban Refugee Program created the infrastructure and procedures required to accomplish the relocation / resettlement of clients to areas in the United States outside South Florida.

The Cuban Refugee Program closed in 1994, after more than three decades of providing assistance to many thousands of refugees.

In Search of Freedom
In Search of Freedom

The In Search of Freedom website was created using Omeka, an open source software platform, developed by the History and New Media Center, George Mason University, to enable cultural heritage institutions, scholars, archives and libraries to efficiently develop and manage digital narratives, exhibits, and collections.

AEON is a service of the University of Miami Libraries that allows researchers to submit requests for items at UM Libraries Special Collections, the Cuban Heritage Collection, and University Archives. Item descriptions for “In Search of Freedom” provide links to AEON, and visitors may request to view a copy of the original photograph or document at the Otto G. Richter Library, or request a digital reproduction of the original.

Additional images from the Cuban Refugee Center Records are available on the University of Miami Libraries Digital Collections website: Cuban Refugee Center Records. For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or


Magazine Archives Provide a Closer Look at UM History

A historic University of Miami student-run magazine is now accessible online. Tempo documented events, activities, personalities, and trends covered by student journalists from October 1949 to April 1971, including photographs by ex-GI contributors. The most well-known student advisor for the publication was Wilson Hicks, former executive editor of Life magazine and pioneer in photojournalism, who joined the faculty of the University in June 1955.


Tempo is one of the many award-winning publications from the University of Miami, and was honored by Sigma Delta Chi as the nation’s top rated college magazine for four consecutive years from 1950 to 1953. Other University publications that have won impressive honors in collegiate journalism include The Miami Hurricane, the official newspaper of the student body started in 1926 as University News, and the Ibis yearbook, which has been published since 1927. For more information, please contact the University Archives at (305) 284-3247 or

The Ruston Academy

Records from Cuba’s Historic Ruston Academy

The Ruston Academy Records, digitized from holdings of the University of Miami Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), contains materials related to the Ruston Academy, a bilingual American school founded in Havana, Cuba, in 1920. Opened in September 1920 by educator Hiram Ruston and his sister Martha Ruston, the Ruston Academy was considered the premier American school in Latin America. Originally focused on providing an English college-preparatory education for the children of American expatriates in Cuba, it quickly grew into a bilingual academy with a multinational student body.

In the 1940s, Ruston expanded to include an elementary school, business preparatory program, basic English classes for Cuban students, and a boarding school, with enrollment measuring at roughly 750 students. After Hiram Ruston’s death in 1946, teacher James Baker took over the school’s administration, and James and his wife Sibyl inherited ownership of the school following Hiram’s sister Martha’s death in 1951. Ruston Academy relocated to a larger campus in 1955. The school was closed down by the Castro government in 1961, its former location having been used as a public school, storage facility, homeless shelter, and military intelligence facility by the Cuban government.

University of Miami Digital Collections feature a full run of Ruston Academy yearbooks from 1940-1960; photographs of the school, teachers and students, and alumni events; several issues of the school newspaper The Rustonian; and ephemera such as theater programs, graduation programs, and promotional materials for student recruitment.

Ruston Academy World Cloud
For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or