Category 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

 

 

 

Collecting the Black Experience

A year ago, Rachel E. Winston joined the staff of the Benson Latin American Collection, taking on an entirely new post with the library as its Black Diaspora Archivist. The position is still one of few of its kind in the world, representing heightened attention in academia on diversity area studies, and a desire to collect the cultural history of an underserved population.

As African & African American Studies has joined the predominant fields at the university, the need for bibliographer support from the Libraries became increasingly clear. Winston’s work will involve enhancing existing resources at the Benson related to the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean, but will also push her to work with campus faculty and researchers to develop new collections in support of scholarly currents.

“I think in our present moment, black scholarship and the term ‘Black Diaspora’ has gained a lot of prominence mainly because we’ve reached a point where it can’t be ignored anymore,” says Winston. “So, the presence of black people, the contributions of black people, the impact of black people and black labor in societies worldwide has been there, has happened, but has been erased, has been ignored, has been forgotten and has been left out — intentionally and unintentionally — and so I think we’ve reached a point where the silence has become loud. People see the gaps and see the voids and there’s been more of a concerted effort to address that and to fill it.”

Winston’s initial focus has been on the work of processing a large set of materials given to the university by Dr. Edmund W. Gordon and Dr. Susan Gordon, which arrived at the university around the same time she joined the Libraries.  “Black intellectuals are underrepresented in archives. This project says that we value the contributions of Black intellectuals, professionals, and artists, and that we will promote their use. I can’t think of a better fit for our first Black diaspora collection.”

Through almost a century of collecting in Latin American, the Benson naturally amassed materials related to the Black Diaspora, but Winston’s presence will allow for the development of a more cohesive approach to building upon those existing resources and the research that has already sprung from them.

“I think as time goes on, we’ll begin to see Black Studies integrated much more throughout different disciplines. Black Studies itself will continue to be necessary. There’s such important work that’s being done. But I do think that the black presence throughout different disciplines will become more recognized and more commonplace. We’ll be able to really take the conversation further in a lot of places. It will be accepted, and we can go from there.”

Winston isn’t taking the work for granted. Taking on a nascent area of study that has been historically marginalized presents challenges in a variety of areas, including the development of a collections strategy, targeting and locating relevant materials and finding the financial support to build an archive.

The Black Diaspora archive recently received a boost in the form of an endowment provided by civic-minded Austinites Darrick and Chiquita Eugene. Their support will aid Winston at a time when budgets might not favor new initiatives, but she feels the significance of the task ahead of her.

“It’s hard work. It’s important work. But I foresee that the impact of black people and the contributions of black people will be much better known.”

Collections Highlight: Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company

From the Carlos Villalongin Dramatic Company Records. Benson Latin American Collection.
From the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company Records. Benson Latin American Collection.

Founded in Jalisco, Mexico in 1849, the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company (also known as Compañía Cómico Dramática) was headed by Mexican actor and director Carlos Villalongín, and featured members of his family, as well as the families of Encarnacíon Hernández and Cristóbal Berrones. The troupe was based primarily in Nuevo León, but toured extensively through northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. for many years, producing a repertoire of tragedies, dramas and comedies that gained popularity in Mexico City.

Carlos Villalongin, 1902. From the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company Records. Benson Latin American Collection.
Carlos Villalongin, 1902. From the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company Records. Benson Latin American Collection.

The company was contracted in 1911 by the Teatro Aurora — a theater on the second floor of a converted saloon in San Antonio — and earned such popularity that their initial 9-month residency was extended to a year and a half. Villalongín made the decision to remain in San Antonio upon the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, then made subsequent tours through south Texas before finally retiring in 1924.

The archive from the company, which resides at the Benson Latin American Collection, consists of plays and promptbooks, photographs, broadsides and ephemera, including 163 volumes of plays and promptbooks in printed or manuscript form; programs, promotional fliers, and tickets; and photographs showing Mexican and Mexican American stage actors and directors, including members of the Villalongín and Hernández and families.

Collections Highlight: The Memoirs of Santa Anna

Antonio López de Santa Anna. “Mis memorias, escritas de mi puño y letra sin ayuda de nadie,en mi último destierro,” 1872. Paper, 12 x 7 in. Genaro Garcìa Collection, Benson Latin American Collection.
Antonio López de Santa Anna. “Mis memorias, escritas de mi puño y letra sin ayuda de nadie,en mi último destierro,” 1872. Paper. 12 x 7 in. Genaro Garcìa Collection,
Benson Latin American Collection.

Mexican politician and general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wrote these memoirs during his final exile in Havana in 1872.

Sometimes referred to as “the Napolean of the West,” Santa Anna — who served as president of Mexico in multiple, non-consecutive terms — is infamous for losing control of Texas and the extensive territories of the U.S. Southwest in 1836.

Collections Highlight: Port of Acapulco, 1638

Alejandro Ruffoni  Puerto de Acapulco en el Reino de la Nueva Expaña en el Mar del Sur 1628 lithograph 17 x 22 in. Genaro García Collection Benson Latin American Collection
Alejandro Ruffoni
Puerto de Acapulco en el Reino de la Nueva Expaña en el Mar del Sur
1628
lithograph
17 x 22 in.
Genaro García Collection
Benson Latin American Collection

A facsimile reproduction made in the Florentine workshop of Alejandro Ruffoni of an original early 17th Century drawing of the Port of Acapulco by Dutch engineer Adrian Boot. The reproduction was commissioned by Mexican historian Francisco del Paso y Troncoso.

The panoramic shows the port and fortification at Acapulco, with depictions of the natural flora and geography of the region.

The artwork is part of the Genaro García Collection at the Benson Latin American Collection.

 

The Art of Carmen Lomas Garza

Tamalada 2003 (2003) by Carmen Lomas Garza. IRIS giclée digital print on paper, 4/180. Benson Latin American Collection.
Tamalada (2003) by Carmen Lomas Garza.
IRIS giclée digital print on paper, 4/180. Benson Latin American Collection.

Born in 1948, much of Carmen Lomas Garza’s work reflects upon her formative years in Kingsville, Texas. Drawing on her experiences in a close-knit Mexican-American community, Garza’s work focuses on memories of everyday life with her family and her community.

In 2009, Garza was the featured artist for the Benson Latin American Collection’s annual ¡A Viva Voz! celebration of Latino culture where she talked about her life, her art and her influences — an event that was accompanied by an exhibition of 20 original serigraphs of her work.

Thanks in part to a generous donation by the Libraries’ own Linda Abbey and her husband Mark Hayward, the Benson was able to acquire those works of art in giclée, lithograph and serigraph form to join Lomas Garza’s archive as part of the permanent collections at the library.

Carmen Lomas Garza with Librarian Margo Gutiérrez.
Carmen Lomas Garza with Librarian Margo Gutiérrez.

The Libraries and García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez working on “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Credit: Guillermo Angulo/Harry Ransom Center

As the university wraps up this year’s Fleur Cowles Symposium “Gabriel García Márquez: His Life and Legacy,” it’s worth noting the Libraries (specifically the Benson Latin American Collection and LLILAS Benson) involvement in support of the noted Colombian author’s archive at the Harry Ransom Center.

The Benson’s Mexican materials bibliographer Jose Montelongo accompanied Ransom Center director Stephen Ennis on a trip to Mexico City, where García Márquez spent his final years, to review the archive materials, and upon the announcement of the acquisition, Montelongo responded to media inquiries providing perspectives on the importance of the archive to the university and researchers, and on the author’s station in the literary canon.

As the premiere Latin American special collection in the western hemisphere, the Benson will provide the complementary resources and support for researchers who come to Austin to utilize the García Márquez archive, further strengthening the partnership between the two institutions.

An article by the Austin-American Statesman on the recent opening of the archive drives home the importance of the relationship between the Ransom Center and the Benson.

Listen to a Public Radio International interview with Jose Montelongo on the acquisition of the archive of Gabriel García Márquez:

 

Literature on a String

Wood, Paper, String exhibit.

Modern forms of independent publishing like zines owe a debt not only to the likes of Thomas Paine, but also to popular types of cultural or regional publications that emerged from a desire to capture an otherwise oral tradition for both broader diffusion and preservation.

The Brazilian literatura de cordel — literally “string literature” from the way that street vendors suspended the chapbooks — is a notable example of a form that gained traction due to its relatively low impact production requirements and visual appeal.

Mostly in the form of quartos, cordels are small chapbooks or pamphlets containing folk novels, poems and/or songs, and usually decorated by woodcut prints that became prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly in the northeastern region of Brazil.

The Benson Latin American Collection recently opened an exhibit of cordel literature drawn from its collections, curated by Julianne Gilland with assistance from Teresa Wingfield and Carla Silva-Muhammad.

Wood, Paper, String highlights the art and history of the Brazilian popular literary. Featuring recent Benson Collection acquisitions, the exhibition explores cordel’s evolution from traditional to contemporary themes and showcases the woodcut illustration that is an iconic visual element of the genre.

Wood, Paper, String runs at the Benson Collection in the second floor gallery space through January 31, 2016, and is open to the public during regular hours.

Herzstein Legacy Survives in Benson Collection

Robert E. Herzstein
Robert E. Herzstein

Attorney Robert E. Herzstein recently passed away at the age of 83.

Herzstein served as lead counsel to Mexico in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect in 1994.

The Benson Latin American Collection holds the Robert E. Herzstein Records of the Mexico­–U.S. Business Committee. These materials, consisting of 14.5 linear feet of press clippings, industry testimony, and U.S. government policy advisory reports, document NAFTA’s development and implementation during the years 1991–1996.

Read more about Herzstein’s contributions and collection at the Benson website. 

Plaques Unveiled to Honor Lozano Long and Benson

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections celebrated the memory of Dr. Nettie Lee Benson and the achievements and generosity of Dr. Teresa Lozano Long at the unveiling of two bronze plaques in Sid Richardson Hall honoring the influential women on Friday, March 6.

LLILAS Benson director Charles Hale provided a warm introduction to attendees, and UT president Bill Powers followed, remarking with admiration of the late Nettie Lee Benson, a librarian and a scholar, whose vision and tenacity built the Benson Collection into one of the world’s premiere collections of Latin American materials. Powers also spoke to the significant contributions — material and intellectual — that Lozano Long and her husband Joe Long have made to Latin American scholarship and to The University of Texas at Austin.

The Longs shared the ceremony with family and friends, and Benson was represented in attendance by her three nephews, Bill, Doug and Joe Benson.

See more photos of the event from the Austin American-Statesman.