CHC Archivist Natalie Baur Receives Fulbright-Garcia Robles Award

Natalie BaurNatalie Baur has received a Fulbright-García Robles award to work on digital preservation research with Dr. Juan Voutssás at the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas y de la Información (Library Science and Information Research Center) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico).  Natalie will be exploring the challenges that the digital age presents to libraries and archives in a global context and developing possibilities for working with colleagues in Latin America on these issues.

Natalie joined the University of Miami Libraries in 2012 and serves as Archivist for the Cuban Heritage Collection. She has a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland and a graduate degree in history and museum studies from the University of Delaware. Natalie is active in the Society of American Archivists, particularly its Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had a profound influence on America’s foreign policy. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the prestigious exchange program that bears his name. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it operates in over 155 countries worldwide and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. The Fulbright-García Robles grants are awarded by the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational Exchange (COMEXUS) in support of fieldwork and research in areas of relevance to U.S.-Mexican relations.

Natalie will be on leave from September 2015 to May 2016. You can follow her on Twitter @nataliembaur.


Join Us for a Celebration of Roberto Estopiñán on May 28


Join us in honoring the life and work of Cuban-born sculptor Roberto Estopiñán, who passed away in January at the age of 93. The evening will include readings by the poets Alina Galliano and Gastón Álvaro; remarks by Estopiñán’s nephew Victor Alberto Garrido and the art historian Alejandro Anreus; and a recognition of his widow, Carmina Benguría. The program will be followed by a screening of the documentary Artists in Exile: Roberto Estopiñán (1994, 30 minutes) by the late Cuban-American television writer and producer Ray Blanco.

From the artist’s estate per his wishes, a selection of works on paper by Roberto Estopiñán will be donated to the Cuban Museum. The Cuban Heritage Collection has received 46 of his sketchbooks, some of which will be on display.

RSVP now to or call 305-284-4026.

Reception sponsored by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

CHC receives funding to digitize La Gaceta de La Habana

La Gaceta de La Habana

Gaceta de La Habana, 1889

The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at the University of Miami Libraries has received $29,850 from LAMP and LARRP to digitize its oversize holdings of the nineteenth-century newspaper La Gaceta de La Habana. LAMP (formerly the Latin American Microform Project) and LARRP (Latin Americanist Research Resources Project) are entities devoted to preserving and providing access to Latin American and Caribbean cultural heritage material and are administered by the Center for Research Libraries.

The CHC holds issues of La Gaceta from 1849 to 1899, representing one of the most complete sets of the newspaper publicly available outside of Cuba. Funding from LAMP and LARRP will cover the cost to digitize over 27,000 pages in 44 oversized bound volumes of the newspaper spanning from 1849 to 1886. The 22 volumes for the years 1887-1897, which are smaller in size, are being digitized in-house by the Libraries’ Digital Production unit.

La Gaceta de La Habana was the newspaper of record for the Spanish colonial government in the second half of the nineteenth century in Cuba.  La Gaceta was the successor to Diario de La Habana, which was published until 1848, when it changed its name to La Gaceta de La Habana: Periódico Oficial del Gobierno.  In turn, it was succeeded by La Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba in 1902.

The social, cultural, legislative, and commercial information published in the pages of La Gaceta is of interest not only to scholars of Cuban Studies, but also scholars of Atlantic, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. Digitizing this considerable work will open avenues of research to faculty and students around the world and help preserve an important historical resource.

Meiyolet Méndez, CHC Librarian, and Laura Capell, Head of Digital Production and Electronic Records Archivist, are leading this project.

Join us February 10 for talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna

chc-lagunaThe Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries will present “Diasporic Diversión: Play and Popular Culture in Cuban America,” a talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Yale University, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.

Despite being a central concern for Cuban academics and a vital narrative mode in both art and quotidian life on the island, forms of cultural play have received scant attention in the context of the Cuban community in the United States. Through readings of popular forms of diversión such as stand-up comedy, radio, Internet humor, and festivals, Laguna examines the trajectory of the ludic in the Cuban diasporic context in order to sketch an understanding of how US-born Cuban Americans and more recent arrivals navigate their relationships to the United States, Cuba, and each other.

This event is cosponsored by the American Studies Program, Center for Latin American Studies, and Department of Modern Languages & Literatures.

Scholar Spotlight: Hideaki Kami

Hideaki Kami was a 2013-2014 CHC Graduate Research Fellow. A doctoral student in history at Ohio State University, he authored the following report about his fellowship and his research on “Diplomacy and Migration: A Transformation of U.S. Relations with Cuba, 1974-1992.”

Hideaki KamiI am pleased to report that my research at the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) proved very fruitful due to the generous support from the CHC. CHC staff members helped me settle in Miami, become familiar with materials and peoples, and gain better chances to deepen my knowledge of the history of Cuba and Cuban Diasporas. By writing this report I would like first to acknowledge your valuable assistance to my research in Miami in the autumn of 2013, which would be a fundamental source for my PhD dissertation on the history of U.S. relations with Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s.

The fundamental purpose of my Miami research was to incorporate Cuban American politics and its history into the broader narrative of U.S. relations with Cuba in the recent decades. Because of its central focus on state-to-state relations, the field of diplomatic history has all too often dismissed the importance of human migration—the changing configuration of demographics, backgrounds, worldviews, and mindsets—for the making of U.S. foreign policy. Such assumptions, however, would be open to question if we study the case of Miami Cubans and their role in U.S. relations with Cuba, which would help us to wonder how the movement of people might have changed the dynamics of power and cultures within and across the borders of nation-states.

The CHC graduate fellowship allowed me to take an important step toward an answer to this question by broadening my perspectives of foreign relations history. With this fellowship I could stay for three months in Miami, where I could gain access to the valuable resources, even outside the CHC, and could meet with historical figures who were willing to share their stories with future generations. One good example of such resources is Dante Fascell Papers at the University of Miami’s Special Collection. This congressional collection holds numerous notes, letters, correspondences, published materials, which tell about the last fifty years’ history of Miami, where Cuban Americans played a major role. Further, my interview with Alfredo Duran, key player during the Jimmy Carter’s presidency, generously informed me of the insider story of the Carter administration’s approach to the Cuban American community.

Most of the time I spent in Miami, however, was at the CHC’s reading room, where I encountered even more numerous stories of Cuban life in Miami. Reading Cuban American newspapers, magazines, tabloids, newsletters, and all other published materials consumed much of my time and energy. Yet, these resources provided crucial information about the Cuban American community’s varying reactions to the actions and behaviors of Washington and Havana at critical moments in bilateral relations. Even richer materials than these published materials are manuscript collections, which provided unique perspectives of the Cuban American community and its interactions with the governments of the United States and Cuba. Particularly relevant to my project were Bernardo Benes and Mirta Ojito Collections, whose resources allow me to reexamine the context of the Mariel boatlift of 1980. While comparing and combining stories of this specially emotive event from perspectives of Washington, Havana, and Miami, I came to realize how valuable these collections were not only in terms of the history of the Cuban American community, but also in the broader context of U.S. relations with Cuba at the height of the Cold War.

Several noteworthy testimonies that I found within Diana Kirby Papers also will shed new light on the experiences of Mariel Cubans, whose critical views of all U.S. and Cuban players were indispensable for polishing my views of the event. Likewise, the materials of Cuban Refugee Center Records and Fort Chafee Collections will enrich further my stories of the boatlift.

Materials on the 1980s are relatively scarce, but the CHC also surprised me by offering several important sources. Some organizations like Alpha 66 held the comprehensive records, covering this decade. The most powerful and important Cuban American organization, Cuban American National Foundation, published numerous newsletters and information memorandum that poured into some of individual collections at the CHC. Equally important are three volumes of Jorge Mas Canosa’s speeches and radio transcripts, Jorge Mas Canosa en busca de una Cuba libre: Edición completa de sus discursos, entrevistas y declaraciones, 1962-1997. The records account for the trajectory of his political career, as well as the shifting strategies of the most memorable leader of the community of his time. Added to these sources is Jose Antonio Font Papers, which includes some of CANF’s internal documents that would be otherwise unattainable anywhere else.

My research also benefits from Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project, which the CHC offers online. Colorful testimonies and recollections of major Cuban American players in U.S.-Cuban relations, such as José Basulto, Bernardo Benes, Lincoln Díaz-Balart, Alfredo Durán, Irma Santos de Mas Canosa, Enrique Ros, Jorge Mas Santos, Diego R. Suárez, not only provided precious information but also made me aware of what might be missing from the written records available today. Despite CHC’s generous support for my attempts to interview Pepe Hernandez and other CANF’s founding fathers, these efforts have not yet come to fruit until now. Nonetheless, I will keep pursuing this and other chances to expand my knowledge of the ideas and activities of the foundation, along with its connections with Washington politics.

Numerous other materials, such as Cuban periodicals like Bohemia, interview records with Fidel Castro, and Miami’s radio monitoring service records (on Cuban radios in Havana) prove helpful to explore the Cuban side of history and to prepare for further research on this frontier. Overall, the CHC fellowship gave me tremendously valuable opportunities not only to read uncountable rare resources in Miami, but also rigorously to train myself as a scholar, who wants to be familiar with the unique history of Cuba and Cuban Diasporas. I will continue my dissertation research in the hope of writing dissertation within three years, and writing a book and/or journal articles on some of the topics that would be relevant to this project.

Thank you once again for the generous support. As one of the former CHC fellows, I will remember and cherish my fortunate time as the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection.

This report was authored by Hideaki Kami to fulfill one of the requirements of the CHC Graduate Fellowships.

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!

Scholar Spotlight: Anasa Hicks

Anasa Hicks was a 2013-2014 CHC Graduate Pre-Prospectus Fellow. A doctoral student in history at New York University, she authored the following report about her fellowship and her research on “Domestic Work in 20th Century Cuba.” 

Anasa HicksBefore beginning research at the Cuban Heritage Collection, I knew that I wanted to write about domestic workers, but I was not sure exactly what that would mean. My interest in the topic stemmed from an interest in the experiences of black women in twentieth-century Cuba, many of whom had been domestics; but I was not sure what aspect or theme within the lives of domestic workers would ground my research.

The sources I found at the Cuban Heritage Collection suggest the possibility that exploring the meaning of domestic work itself—that is, asking questions about who does it and when, who never does it and why, and when legislators or charitable institutions become involved in issues surrounding domestic work—could yield a broader and more interesting analysis than just focusing on the experiences of a specific group of domestic workers. Certainly, many black women were domestic workers—but as the CHC’s extensive collection of the Gaceta de la Habana showed me, so were Chinese men. Anglophone Caribbean women migrated with their men to become domestics in eastern Cuba; and recently arrived Spanish women were often nursemaids. Sources like the Gaceta and conversations with staff members at the CHC clarified the diversity of identities among domestic workers in Cuba.

Other CHC holdings highlighted domestic work’s centrality to upholding Cuba’s class divisions. Americans travelers to Cuba regularly noted that middle- and upper-class families defined themselves in large part by their ability to hire domestic help. Employing domestic workers was definitional to what it meant to be an elite Cuban woman: one observer of Cuban culture wrote that “the well-to do Cuban will not allow his wife to do any housework. Cooking, washing or scrubbing would lower her to the level of a servant.” ¹ Early twentieth-century travelogues demonstrated that the institution of paid domestic labor reinforced gender, racial, and class identities and hierarchies.

The theme of education, specifically the need to educate (certain) young women to perform domestic work, emerged from the documents I found as well. Lyceum y Lawn Tennis Club, a women’s social club, was an intellectual and social service staple in Havana society from its founding in 1939 to its end in 1968. The women of the club hosted talks, offered vocational and academic classes, founded the island’s first public library and even had an art gallery. Education was central to Lyceum’s mission to “foment in the woman a collective spirit;” the club offered such classes as English language, Swiss cooking, and Cuban history.

In perusing the Gaceta oficial, I found detailed plans for an “Escuela del Hogar” which opened in Havana in 1919. The school, open to young women between fifteen and twenty-five years old, aimed to educate them in the art of domesticity, offering classes such as sewing, ironing, and cooking. None of the classes offered were as erudite as the selection offered at Lyceum. Elsewhere in Latin America, similar institutions were essentially feeder programs into the homes of wealthy benefactors: working-class girls attended the schools and then became domestics. It is difficult to know whether this was the case in Cuba, or for whom this kind of education was intended. Did young middle-class and elite women enroll, or would such tasks be beneath them? Studying domestic work would shed light on the reasons for which some women were educated in how to iron clothes and linens while others learned French and flower arrangement.

My findings in Miami have allowed me to think more clearly about why domestic work interests me. A study of how domestic labor got done in Cuba, when it was paid for and when it was taught and to whom, can allow historians to gain new understandings of labor, of gender, of class and race relations. My findings at the CHC were essential to my presentation at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women in May of 2014. Additionally, what I have found at the CHC this summer will guide the drafting of my prospectus as I prepare to defend it and will guide my questions as I continue my dissertation research.

¹ Lowry Nelson, Rural Cuba (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1950): 144.