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Americas collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS 518
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in the vault.

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.

Dates

  • 1811-1920

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in the vault.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Americas collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Historical Sketch

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.

Extent

3 Linear Feet ( (5 boxes and digital objects))

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

Original letters, broadsides, pamphlets, printed materials and books documenting the 19th century and early 20th century political and cultural relationships between the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, Spain, and Portugal.

Arrangement

Arranged by country, where the country is the main subject of the material. The last series is "Multi-country", where one country writes to or about another. Arrangement within each series is chronological.

Missing Title

  1. Series I. South America, 1812-1861
  2. Series II: Central America, 1821-1829,1861-1920
  3. Series III: Mexico, 1821-1865
  4. Series IV: United States, 1823-1893
  5. Series V: Cuba, 1896
  6. Series VI: Spain, 1812
  7. Series VII: Portugal, 1822
  8. Series VIII: Multi-country, 1811-1914

Acquisition Information

This material was purchased from a manuscripts dealer in 2005, in collaboration with the HumanitiesResearch Center, Rice University, under the direction of Dr. Caroline Levander.

General Note

Portions of this collection are available online at: https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/35298
Title
Guide to the Americas collection, 1811-1920
Status
Completed
Author
Amanda Focke
Date
2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Contact:
Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA