Tag Archives: Benson Latin American Collection

Dr. Carlos Castañeda

Collection Highlight: The Carlos Eduardo Castañeda Papers

Historian, archivist, educator Carlos E. Castañeda was born November 11, 1896, in Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. His father was a professor of French and government at the College of San Juan in Matamoros, but the family moved to Brownsville around 1910. Castañeda’s parents both died before he was 15, leaving him with 3 sisters and 3 brothers.

Though he began his college career as an engineering major, Castañeda switched to his major to history (under the influence of E.C. Barker), and graduated with a BA from The University of Texas in 1921, having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was married in 1922, and his first daughter, Gloria, was born in 1923, the same year that he obtained his MA from The University of Texas and began teaching Spanish for the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

From the Carlos E. Castañeda Papers.
From the Carlos E. Castañeda Papers.

In 1927, Castañeda was asked to return to The University of Texas, to take control of the newly acquired Genaro García collection, which served as the foundation for Latin American collections — and specifically, the Benson Latin American Collection — at UT. While acting as librarian for this collection, Castañeda began work on his PhD, producing more articles on the early history of Texas. Castañeda also collaborated with Texas State Library archivist Winnie Allen to launch the Mexican Photo Print Company, in an effort to recover copies of documents he had discovered in Mexico, a project that faced an unfortunate end with the advent of the Great Depression.

Castañeda completed his doctorate in 1932, his dissertation being a translation of the famous Morfi’s History of Texas.  He re-discovered the text — at the time believed lost — while searching through the records of a Fransiscan monastery. Later that year, Castañeda’s second daughter, Consuela, was born.

Castañeda did not begin his career as a full professor for The University of Texas until 1940, after some protracted debate in the 1930s concerning his salary and teaching responsibilities (Castañeda felt that his salary had been reduced because of his ethnicity). It was these issues that led to his leaving in 1933 to become the Superintendent of the San Felipe School District in Del Rio, Texas, where he met with resistance from white families due to his ethnicity. He remained in that position for only a year.

Photo by Bill Monroe.
Photo by Bill Monroe.

After returning to The University of Texas for the 1935 school year, Castañeda resumed his career as a professor, and continued work on Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, a massive seven-volume life-spanning work on the early history of Texas, the last volume of which was not published until just prior to Castañeda’s death. Shortly after his return to the university, Castañeda was knighted by the Catholic Church as a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, and in 1951 became a Knight Commander in the Order of Isabel the Catholic of Spain. These honors were granted on the basis of Castañeda’s long-time work with the Catholic community and Catholic history more generally.

Being concerned with the plight of minorities in Texas, Castañeda took another leave of absence in 1943 to work for the Fair Employment Practice Commission (FEPC), an agency that was concerned with helping minorities to obtain the same working conditions and jobs that whites were granted in the 1940s. Though the commission ended prematurely with the onset of World War II, Castañeda continued to actively work against discrimination, and became involved with the Pan American Union, and on its behalf, gave an internationally broadcast radio address in 1948.

In the 1950s Castañeda’s health failed, and he suffered three heart attacks during the decade, severely limiting his ability to write, teach and stay active in his many causes. The author of twelve books and over eighty articles, and recipient of many honors, Castañeda died on April 3, 1958, at the age of 62.

Along with first African American faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin Dr. Ervin Perry (engineering), Castañeda’s legacy was recognized in 1974 with the approval by the University of Texas Board of Regents to name the university’s new central library in his honor. The Perry-Castañeda Library opened in 1977, and remains the flagship library at the university to the current day.

The Carlos E. Castañeda Papers feature includes articles, speeches and drafts of books, notably Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (commissioned by the Knights of Columbus) and Castañeda’s translation of Morfi’s, History of Texas, along with transcriptions, translations and notes.   The collection also documents Castañeda’s involvement with The University of Texas — including records of his faculty appointment and restricted student records —the Catholic Church and his international activities and various projects he took on over the years. Materials from his time in Del Rio, his service with FEPC, his work in many voluntary organizations, his teaching and departmental activities and his library and acquisitions work reflect the extent of his professional activities. The papers also feature a collection of historical documents dating from the late 15th century to the early 20th century, as well as a large selection of photographs, 8mm movies, phonodiscs, maps and book illustrations.

Benson staff are hosting a workshop on tracking relationships in research with network visualization and analysis tools using the Castañeda Papers on Wednesday, October 25. More information here

 

 

 

You Are Everywhere – The PCL Map Collection

PCL Map Collection

“Who does not have etched in the mind images of countries and of the world based on maps?”

– John Noble Wilford, The Mapmakers

It’s certainly the case that our perception of the world’s geography is rooted in our experience with the maps we’ve encountered, developed and designed over eons by both hand and machine. Even though we may have become increasingly reliant on disembodied voices to lead us where we need to go, the archetype for understanding the concept of location which we carry in our minds was instilled by the road guides of family vacations, massive retractable world maps of the elementary classroom and spinning globes of our past.

Equal parts art and science, maps are one of the most effective methods for conveying information visually in virtually any field of inquiry. In the miniaturization of space that is necessary to explain vast areas on a personal scale is a documentation of history and of change; of character and personality, value and values; of plant and animal; of health and illness, feast and famine; of motion and stasis; and of nearly any aspect of life and place that can be categorized for better understanding the world in which we live.

PCL Map Collection manager Katherine Strickland assists a patron
PCL Map Collection manager Katherine Strickland assists a patron.

And that, perhaps, is what makes the map collection at the Perry-Castañeda Library so incredibly valuable. Its scope in both size and subject is immense enough to maintain an intrinsic value — both as historical artifact and as a tool of modern research and reference — that goes unaffected by the passage of time.

Though the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is considered a general collection, it’s anything but. Residing on the first floor of the university’s flagship library, it features more than 250,000 cartographic items representing all areas of the world. And its online component is not only one of the most highly visited websites at the university — garnering nearly 8 million visits annually — but is in the top ten most popular results for a Google search of “maps.”

The university began informally collecting maps previously — at the General Libraries, but also through efforts at the Geology Library, the Barker Texas History Center and the Benson Latin American Collection — but it wasn’t until the PCL opened in 1977 that the Map Collection was established on the first floor of the building as an independent collection.

The core of the collection emerged with the acquisition of the U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps, which date from the late 19th century and cover the entire United States, U.S. territories and other parts of the world where governments contracted U.S.G.S. for mapping, such as Saudi Arabia.

Topographic map of Singapore Island, 1941.
Topographic map of Singapore Island, 1941.

Since then, the collection has grown to feature military maps from various conflicts around the world, government nautical and aeronautical charts, topographic collections, city maps representing over 5,000 cities around the world, aerospace navigation charts, data and demographic maps, and just about every other conceivable type of physical cartography.

The collection also houses an extensive collection of atlases, from a street atlas of El Paso to the National Atlas of India. The library also purchases commercial and foreign government-issued topographic map series, country, city and thematic maps. The collection also includes a small but popular collection of plastic raised-relief maps and globes, not only of earth, but of the Moon, planets and other various celestial bodies.

Most of the maps in the collection date from 1900 to the present, and the collection is constantly being updated with newer materials, and complements a number of significant historical map collections housed on campus in the Center for American History (historical maps of Texas), the Benson Latin American Collection, the Harry Ransom Center and the Walter Geology Library.

Paul Rascoe — the Libraries’ Documents, Maps, & Electronic Info Services Librarian — has been the driving force behind the collection at PCL, especially in the formulation and execution of the collection’s online component. And it hasn’t hurt to have the planets align, at times.

“In 1994, we decided that we were going to scan maps,” says Rascoe. “We had a Macintosh computer and a Mac scanner, which I believe cost $100. We had a plan to put them in sort of a web menuing system called Gopher, but fortunately, simultaneously with our wanting to put maps online, the first web browser was introduced in that year.” Continue reading

Reaching Out to Make New Connections

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The University of Texas Libraries reached out in new ways this past semester to actively engage patrons through initiatives demonstrating how the UT Libraries is evolving, changing in ways that might be unexpected, and honing services that are more relevant than ever before.

This fall the UT Libraries participated in a nationwide “Outside the Lines” initiative, in its nascent year, by showcasing services, hosting activities and highlighting treasures, and then expanded its “Crunch Time” initiative, now in its seventh year, to insert the Libraries collections, resources and experts into the flow of academic endeavor that culminates as midterms approached.

Concentrated within one week in mid-September, our incarnation of “Outside the Lines” (OTL) consisted of a Perry-Castaneda Library (PCL) Media Lab-sponsored activity enabling participants to make music with a robot or animate a cartoon, an open house for Chinese-speaking students, a slam poetry performance by Spitshine at the UT Poetry Center, an event co-sponsored by the departments of English, Middle Eastern Studies, Molecular Biology and Spanish and Portuguese, and the 5th Annual LLILAS Benson Student Photo Exhibition featuring photographs taken by students highlighting research, fieldwork and volunteer activities related to Latin America and U.S. Latino communities.

The culminating OTL activity, DJs spinning music from the Fine Art Library’s recently acquired KUT CD collection, was postponed due to rain but successfully paired with a subsequent Hearts of Texas State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) event on the PCL Plaza for a truly “Outside the Lines” mash up of music and philanthropic momentum.

“Crunch Time 2014” was sponsored by these seven UT Libraries in mid-October: Architecture and Planning, LLILAS Benson, Chemistry, Fine Arts, Life Science, PCL and Physics Mathematics Astronomy.  Each location featured Crunch Time handouts, mini-Nestle Crunch bars, and opportunities for students to get help with assignments, schedule a research consultation session with a subject specialist, and check out collections and places to study.

These exciting efforts yielded vital means for the UT Libraries to connect with a diverse array of UT students, library users, authors and members of the broader Austin community. Planning and execution of each of these events was achieved through cross-Libraries and campus-wide collaboration, as well as the talent, knowledge, and expertise of Libraries staff, presenters and the participants themselves.  These successful connections of people, resources, and spaces provided further evidence that the UT Libraries serve as nourishing places for learning, discovery and inspiration.

Crawling Through Latin America

A 2006 web capture from the Colombian Ministry of Defense.

When libraries began to experiment with ways to migrate and adapt their traditional structures and skills to a technologic age, they came up with some novel approaches to information collection and preservation that are in a process of constant evolution. One such experiment begun in 2005 is still active and paying dividends today.

The Latin American Government Documents Archive (LAGDA) has been collecting, preserving and providing access to ministerial and presidential documents from 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries. In a process of crawling – the automatic downloading of webpages based on given criteria – the project has captured documents and information that could (and likely would) be lost over time due to neglect, changes in technology, changes in leadership or, in some cases, a willful desire to expunge the historical record.

The project is an extension of a decades-long effort by the Benson Latin American Collection to collect government print reports from Latin American countries, some of which date to the late 19th Century, and complements the work of the Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative.

Kent Norsworthy is a data curator and communications specialist splitting time between the Benson and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies who has been one of the primary drivers of the LAGDA project. He recently provided an interview on his work to “The Signal,” the Library of Congress’s blog on digital preservation, which you can read here.

The Libraries Afield: Launching the Guatemalan National Police Archives Website

Documents at the Guatemalan National Police Archive (AHPN). Photo courtesy Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, Guatemala.

University of Texas Libraries Director Fred Heath traveled to Guatemala in December 2011 to participate in the launch of a joint project between the Guatemalan National Police Archive (AHPN) and The University of Texas at Austin. Together, AHPN and the Libraries would provide public access via the web to records of human rights violations by government agents that were discovered in a military munitions dump in 2004.

This is Dr. Heath’s travelogue of his trip.

Our flight to Guatemala City, 5,000 feet up in the Central American highlands took two and a half hours.  Our destination was the National Police Archives, where on Friday we would celebrate with our colleagues, the recent opening of the AHPN website.  I had yet to write my brief remarks.

In the cramped rear coach seat of the Boeing 737, I held my laptop in my lap, with the screen tilted slightly forward to accommodate the encroaching seatback of the traveler in front of me, and edited my three-minute talk.  I was working from the draft I delivered the week before, when we first opened the web site of the Guatemalan National Police Archive.

Our next day — Friday, December 9 — would be International Human Rights Day, and AHPN director Gustavo Meoño had shrewdly decided to reciprocate the previous week’s events with a ceremony in Guatemala City celebrating the partnership between AHPN, administratively housed within the Ministry of Culture, and the University of Texas.

At 35,000 feet, I was not sure what to expect.  I did know that Christian Kelleher (program coordinator for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative), Karen Engle (director of the Rapaport Center for Human Rights and Justice) and Daniel Brinks (professor and co-director of Rapaport) would all address the audience at AHPN, projected to be some 200 in number, but I knew little about the attendees.  I also knew that all three of my colleagues would deliver their remarks in Spanish; so I was determined to keep my Anglo remarks brief.   As I wrote, I wanted to answer the question of why democracies elect to archive and preserve even the dark chapters of their histories, rather than deny or erase them.  I chose to use the example of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum, whose holdings allow researchers to address the issues of the transfer of presidential power in the aftermath of the assassination of John Kennedy, to study an epochal period in our own tumultuous civil rights movement, and to inquire into the dark chapter that was the war in Vietnam.  My hope was that in my brief remarks I could remind our Guatemalan audience that in a democracy it is necessary to study all parts of our past, in order to learn from our accomplishments, and avoid the recurrences of our missteps. Continue reading

Border Music Giveaway

The Benson Latin American Collection and Texas Performing Arts (TPA) are giving away tickets for a night of cross-border rock and roll.

On November 30, TPA hosts Border Music with David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot for the “U.S. premiere of this rocking post-roots, pan-Latin, rave-up/descarga.”

Hidalgo, of course, is the vocal leader of the iconic latino-crossover band and Grammy-winners Los Lobos, while Ribot has been the archetype journeyman, earning his rep with such modern legends as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and avant-garde composer John Zorn.

For a chance to win tickets, all you need to do is answer a Benson trivia question.

Contest closes at 5pm on Tuesday, November 23.

Innovating Change at BLAC

Dr. Charles Hale

The University of Texas Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts are today announcing the launch of an innovative joint endeavor to align the physical and intellectual resources of the Benson Latin American Collection (BLAC) and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS) in a 3-year pilot venture.

Under the program, Dr. Charles Hale will assume sole directorship of both institutions with the objective of integrating staff and programs towards goals common to both.

In taking this approach to administering two of the University’s most notable institutions in the field of Latin American studies, the principals are creating a fiscal efficiency at the executive level, while at the same time discovering a way to streamline programming and collections development through collaboration for the benefit of students, faculty, researchers and the public at large.

At a time when higher education is facing increasing scrutiny, we’re finding new ways to meet the challenges put to us.

You can find complete information on the partnership here.

 

Benson Back To School Giveaway

To kick off the school year right, the Benson is doing a giveaway to Crisol Danza Teatro, courtesy of Texas Performing Arts.

Simply follow the links above, or go to the Benson Facebook page (and, of course, “Like” them if you haven’t already), and enter the giveaway at the event page.

This giveaway ends at 3pm on September 21, but keep an eye out for more on the Benson’s Facebook page later this semester. 

 

 

¡A Viva Voz! Goes to the Movies

And…action!

The Benson Latin American Collection presents its ninth annual ¡A Viva Voz! at 7pm this Thursday featuring film producer Elizabeth Avellán, co-owner (with director Robert Rodriguez) and vice president of Troublemaker Studios.

Avellán co-founded Los Hooligan Productions with Rodriguez when the two began work on El Mariachi (1992) in 1991. She co-produced From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Desperado (1995) and The Faculty (1998). In 2000, Los Hooligan became Troublemaker Studios, which has since generated such notable films as the Spy Kids franchise, Sin City (2005), the Rodriguez/Tarantino double-feature, B-Movie homage Grindhouse (2007), Predators (2010) and Machete (2010).

Avellán will discuss her work and rare position as a Latino woman in the traditionally male-dominated film business.

Charles Ramirez-Berg of the Department of Radio-Television-Film will make an introduction, and food will be provided by El Meson.

An exhibit of cinematic materials from Troublemaker Studios and Cine Las Americas as well as rare materials on the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema from the Benson’s extensive archival holdings will be on view at the Benson, as well.

Check out the trailer for Avellán’s latest production credit, just off its SXSW showing, Blacktino.

Win Tickets to Percussionist Cyro Baptista

The Benson Latin American Collection and Texas Performing Arts along with the UT Libraries are offering up a chance to win tickets to a unique performance by Brazilian Jazz/World musician and percussionist Cyro Baptista.

Baptista is reprising a performance from his debut album Villa-Lobos/Vira-Loucos, an homage to early twentieth-century classical Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Baptista performs at 8 p.m., next Tuesday, October 26, at Hogg Auditorium.

From the TPA website:

Texas Performing Arts is proud to present Cyro Baptista performing his classical program, Villa-Lobos/Vira-Loucos, an evening focused on Baptista’s 1997 solo debut album of the same name. In this acclaimed collection, Cyro interprets and deconstructs a number of themes by the early twentieth-century classical Brazilian composer Hector Villa-Lobos. The recording is considered a true testament to Baptista’s mastery of music and the live experience beckons to you on a musical journey that is dynamic, virtuosic, grooving, and absolutely unique in sound and vision.

To be entered in the drawing for a pair of tickets, just visit the Cyro Baptista Trivia Question page and answer a Benson trivia question. Contest ends at 3 p.m. on Monday, October 25. Winner will be alerted via email and the Benson’s Facebook page.

Good luck.