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History: Latin America and the Caribbean

Research resources for the study of history of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Special Collections

Looking for primary sources? LAL Special Collections include Manuscript Collections, NewspapersRare Books & Ephemera, Maps and an Image ArchiveClick on these tabs  to discover different LAL Special Collections items of interest.

The tabs will allow you to explore just a few examples of the kinds of materials held in the LAL’s Special Collections relevant to research in History. To start searching for additional materials try the “Search for Primary Sources at LAL” tab.  

Viceregal and Ecclesiastical Mexican Collection, 1770-1820

A collection of some 3,000 dossiers relating principally to late colonial period Mexico (1770-1820) and is composed of documents of the Catholic Church and records of government which apparently had their origin in the archives of the viceroys, archbishops, and bishops of the New Spain. The types of documents included are church records, petitions, litigation records, notarial files, censuses, laws and decrees, letters, reports, civil and ecclesiastical investigations, maps, illustrations, architectural plans, and printed edicts and proclamations.  Many of the documents concern Indian affairs and problems with the church.  Please see the collection’s finding aid in the Latin American Library’s online database for an excellent introduction to the collection and an item level finding aid.  

General Rafael E. Melgar Collection, 1913-1959

An extensive collection (42 linear feet) of personal and political papers of General Rafael E. Melgar (1887-1959) who fought in Mexico’s Revolution (1910-1920) and then entered politics to serve in various political offices including congressional representative from Oaxaca, campaign manager for Lázaro Cárdenas, governor of the Territory of Quintana Roo, Senator from Oaxaca, and as the Mexican ambassador to Holland.  Materials in the collection represent a wide range of formats that include correspondence, published books and articles, military records, congressional and political party documents, ephemera, broadsides, and photographs among others.  Please see the collection’s finding aid in the Latin American Library’s on-line database for an item level finding aid.

Francisco Morazán Papers, 1830-1842

A collection of 58 pieces of personal, political, and business papers and correspondence of Francisco Morazán, the President of the Republic of Central America.  An introduction and complete transcriptions of these documents are available in William J. Griffith's The personal archive of Francisco Morazán (1977), available in the Latin American Library’s circulating collection. 

Canal Zone Photograph Collection, 1907-1909

101 black and white photographs of varying sizes (3" x 5" to 7" x 9") of the Canal Zone, Panama City, and of construction on the Panama Canal.  Some of the items are commercial photographs by W.A. Fishbaugh. The collection also contains larger photographs of Havana, Cuba and maps of the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal itself.

Steamship Voyage to South America Photograph Album, c. 1903

A personal photograph album of 24 leaves with 106 photographs of varying sizes (most measure 8.5 x 8 cm) mounted on the leaves and endpapers.  Captions written in period manuscript ink in English appear on the album mounts or on the image margins.  The album documents a voyage from New York to Lima, taken in June-November of 1903, on several ships of the Panama Railroad Steamship Line (S. S. Palena, Seguranca and Loan) and via the company's famous railroad across the Panama Isthmus.  The travelling party included the Peruvian consul in New York, Francisco Pérez de Velasco, and his family including:  wife, Isabel Oyague Soyer, daughter, Isabel Pérez de Velasco Oyague (born in New York, d. 1951), and son José Vicente Pérez de Velasco Oyague.  The collection was most likely assembled by the family's companion or governess from New York.

Looking for primary sources? LAL Special Collections include Manuscript Collections, NewspapersRare Books & EphemeraMaps and an Image Archive.

Interested in searching?  Each collection link above contains holdings information and search tools.  Search for manuscripts and images in our Special Collections Holdings and rare books in our Library Catalog.  Questions?  Please write Christine Hernández (, Curator of Special Collections at LAL.

General Collections

Use these keywords when searching our Library Catalog to find primary sources:

  • correspondence                                                          Here are some examples:
  • interviews                                                                     Artists -- Uruguay -- Interviews
  • oral histories                                                                Brazilian letters
  • diaries                                                                           Havana (Cuba) -- Pictorial works
  • letters                                                                            Presidents -- Argentina -- Correspondence
  • sources
  • memoirs
  • speeches 
  • pictorial works

Digitized Collections

Click on these tabs  to discover different digitized primary sources of interest.

Searching for more digitized primary resources?  Check out these leads:

Digitized Latin American sources:

Digitized Central American sources:

Digitized Mexican sources:

Digitized Brazilian sources:

Digitized Caribbean sources:

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