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Latino Americans: 500 Years of History

August 25, 2016
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Latino Americans: 500 Years of History was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.


Ilya Genin’s “Photographs of Cuban Revolution 50 Years Later,” an exhibition at the Art Library, was one of the highlights of the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History programming at Rutgers.

Rutgers University Libraries recently concluded the ALA-funded program Latino Americans: 500 Years of History. Over the course of a year, in addition to hosting events and programs in our own spaces, the Libraries collaborated with other New Jersey organizations like the Nilsa L. Cruz-Perez Branch of the Camden County Library, New Brunswick Free Public Library, Newark Public Library, Newark History Society, and Barnes and Noble-New Brunswick to offer exhibits, screenings, lectures, and special celebrations.

Highlights include A Day of the Dead Celebration at the New Brunswick Free Public Library with a variety of performances and children’s activities; a Cuban musical concert by singer Gema Corredera; screenings of Peril and Promise at several locations with scholars on-hand to moderate discussion; the exhibit “Beyond Exile: Cubans in New Jersey” at the Newark Public Library, including a keynote address by Lisando Pérez; an 8-part workshop series for the general public on preserving personal, family, and local history, presented in both Spanish and English; and two separate exhibitions at the Rutgers Art Library, Ilya Genin’s “Photographs of Cuban Revolution 50 Years Later,” and “From Island to Ocean: Caribbean and Pacific Dialogues by Fidalis Buehler and Juana Valdes.”

As Nancy Kranich notes in the final report on this initiative, this program allowed Rutgers University Libraries to become “a catalyst for bringing together scholars and organizations involved with the New Jersey Latino American experience and encouraging more attention to documenting it. The grant enabled us to take a more assertive role in building and strengthening relationships with local Latino communities and the scholars, organizations, and public libraries that interact with them.”

Kranich also lists several other outcomes that may be of interest to our colleagues:

  • Several new items were added to Special Collections, including several leaflets of unpublished poetry by Newark poet Pablo Le Riverend, clippings of anti-Castro activities in Hudson County, Sarah Hirschman’s papers covering People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos.
  • The publisher and owner of Impacto, published in the 1960s, donated 99 issues of the publication to Rutgers University.
  • 15 Latino clubs are Rutgers have expressed interest in learning how to organize and preserve their own records in conjunction with Rutgers University Libraries’ archivists.
  • Two possible books are in discussion: a history of Latinos in NJ and an anthology of unpublished documents about Latino migrant workers in NJ and the United States.
  • The New Brunswick Free Public Library and Rutgers University Libraries are discussing partnering again on another ALA public programming grant proposal.
  • A deeper understanding of the Latino collections in the state and increased participation in depositing scholarly works into our Rutgers Inclusion and Diversity Research Portal.

For additional information about this program, please visit their website.