Scope and Contents
Original letters, broadsides, pamphlets, printed materials and books documenting the political and cultural relationships between the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, Spain, and Portugal, beginning with the heyday of nation formation from 1776 to 1815 and ending with the building of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century. Many of the documents are original government publications such as constitutions, decrees, or presidential and congressional messages, and broadsides and pamphlets serving as public statements regarding the political and social events of the time. Other items of note include George F. Dunham's "A Journey to Brazil on the Good Ship Montpelier," an 1853 first hand description of slavery and plantation life in Brazil, and the first Mexico City printing (1821) of Augustin de Iturbide's Plan de Iguala.
This material is open for research.
Conditions Governing Access
Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in the vault.
Permission to publish from the Americas collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
The Americas collection strives to represent the full range and complexity of the Americas. Thomas Jefferson famously observed that “America has a hemisphere to itself,” and the founding fathers agreed that gaining influence in Spanish America “piece by piece” was essential to the U.S. Conversely, Latin American nations like Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua, and El Salvador used the American Revolution as a touchstone for their own nation formations, even as they aspired to shape the U.S. democratic model to their own needs.
This story of national exchange and influence across the hemisphere will be more fully told through this archive which brings together key documents. Currently scholars interested in telling this rich story must travel, for example, between the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and the Cuban Society of Historical and International Study in Havana. A notable exception is the University of Maryland’s Early Americas Digital Archive, which invites scholars to submit their editions of early Americas texts for digital publication. Its historical range of 1492 to 1800 makes it an ideal future partner for Rice’s initiative, which begins with the heyday of nation formation from 1776 to 1815 and ends with the building of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century.
This archive will allow us to understand, for example, why Brazilian insurgents owned and read copies of the American Declaration of Independence as well as works by Jefferson and Thomas Paine; why José Martí found the U.S. system of governance a rich source of commentary and critique for Cuban independence efforts; and why Fidel Castro quoted the American Declaration of Independence and likened the burning of cane fields to the Boston Tea Party during his 1958 take over of Cuba. But such an archive will also allow us to think in new ways about the U.S. American story. It will show us, for example, that U.S. slaves escaped South as well as North, establishing communities throughout Spanish America during the U.S. antebellum period. Such an archive, in short, brings into sharp focus the overlapping national stories of the hemisphere.
Historical sketch excerpted from text courtesy of Dr. Caroline Levander, Humanities Research Center, Rice University.
3 Linear Feet ( (5 boxes and digital objects))
Language of Materials