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Observing Hispanic Heritage Month

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Where chocolate comes from--gathering cacao pods in Ecuador (American Stereoscopic Company, c1907)

Did you know that the food and the word chocolate (choolatl/ xocolātl) originated from Mesoamerica (part of Mexico and Central America)? The Aztecs and the Mayans were some of the first people to consume chocolate, mostly in beverage form, for medicinal and religious purposes. In fact, many foods we consume today, like avocados, chilies, corn, and tomatoes originated in Mexico and Central America.

Beginning September 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. The theme this year is “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit,” which celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Our Law Library provides a comprehensive overview of the legislative and executive documents  of this observance, which officially began in 1968.

Science and Technology was the theme for the 2005 Hispanic Heritage Month and the science reference section created a guide to Hispanic Americans in the Science and Technology. This guide lists publications and online resources for biographical information, as well as science organizations and associations.

In 2010, our Augustana College interns created the Latinos in Math and Science: Resources for Kids, Young Adults, and Teachers guide, which aims to help engage Latinos in the science classroom.

You also might wish to check out our Teaching with the Library of Congress blog post Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Library of Congress primary resources.

The Library of Congress. Division of Hispanic Literature, ca 1940

If you are interested in learning more about Hispanic culture and history you might want to explore the Hispanic Reading Room’s resources, which offer a wealth of information on “Latin America, the Caribbean, Hispanics and Portuguese in the United States, the Iberian Peninsula, and other places where Iberian culture dominated and has survived.”  They have pulled together a list of online collections, which features digitized maps, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and exhibition material.

During the monthly observance there are many events planned around Washington D.C. area such as a panel discussion on the Poetry Tradition of Mexico and the United States (Library of Congress, October 4) and a screening of the film Tortilla Soup (National Archives and Records Administration, Sept. 24) — for more events see the Hispanic Heritage Month’s home page and a list of Library of Congress events see the Hispanic Reading Rooms events page. Don’t worry if you cannot make it to Washington, we have plenty of webcasts from our past events that feature Hispanic history, literature, and poetry.


  1. who ever made hispanic heritage month did it on my birthday.October 3,2001

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