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New Research Guide: Latin America and the Caribbean in Photographs

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A recently published research guide on Latin America and the Caribbean in Photographs by Curator of Photography Adam Silvia offered me a chance to take a virtual tour of a wide variety of collections I had not yet explored in detail as well as pointed out some of the hidden treasures in familiar collections. Through these images, you will find revealed new views of the landscapes and people of this large region, many through the eyes of creators from those countries.

An upcoming virtual orientation will reveal such treasures as the two undigitized albums featured below.  The one on the left is a delicately decorated album of photos taken by Guatemalan photographer Francisco Javier Rodas, depicting Guatemalans of Mayan descent. And on the right is a peek into a rare book filled with photos taken by Brazilian photographer Marc Ferrez of the renovation of the Avenida Central between 1903 and 1906.

Colecciones de guacales con grabados de tipos indigenas del pais representados de sus costumbres, y colecciones fotograficas de los mismos. Photo album by Francisco Javier Rodas, ca. 1900-1914. Photographed by Adam Silvia, 2021.

Avenida Central, 8 de marco de 1903 – 15 de novembre de 1906. Illustrated book, photographs by Marc Ferrez, ca. 1906-1910. Photographed by Adam Silvia, 2021.

Ferrez was a new name to me, so I searched further in our collections and found this charming and slightly terrifying (for anyone with a fear of heights) photo by him of the bridge for the first Brazilian tourist railway, Ponte do Silvestre in Rio de Janeiro, designed by Brazilian engineer, Pereira Passos.

Pont de Sylvestre (translated title: Ponte do Silvestre). Photo by Marc Ferrez, between 1890 and 1900.

This was a great example of being familiar with a collection – the Carpenter Collection – but not knowing fully what interesting treasures it might hold. The Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection contains thousands of photos collected by father and daughter to illustrate Frank’s writings on travel and world geography. Many photos were purchased from commercial photographers in the countries they visited, which could be how this photo made its way into their collection.

In preparing his research guide, Adam found these photos by esteemed Mexican photojournalist Héctor Garcia within the U.S. News and World Report Magazine Photograph Collection:

Mexico City, Crowded Sidewalks. Contact sheet by Héctor Garcia, 1960. Photographed by Adam Silvia, 2021.

Mexico City, Crowded Sidewalks. Photo by Héctor Garcia, 1960. Photographed by Adam Silvia, 2021.

The U.S. News and World Report Magazine Collection contains well over one million photographs. Most are taken in the United States and a high percentage were made by staff photographers working for the magazine, so this offered a new glimpse into the potential of a long-held collection in the Prints and Photographs Division.

I hope in addition to exploring the new research guide, you will join photography curator Adam Silvia and Kristi Finefield, Reference Specialist, for a virtual orientation to the photography (and some graphic art) of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as guidance on how to search the catalog, find research guides, evaluate rights and more at one of two upcoming sessions. You, too, may discover a route to images of places you’ve longed to explore and, equally satisfying, uncover new-to-you images by trying different byways in familiar collections!

Learn More:

  • Join us: Prints & Photographs Orientation: Photography of Latin America and the Caribbean: This orientation session will include a brief introduction to photography collections of Latin America and the Caribbean. Instruction will cover library search tools, online resources, and how to prepare for a future visit to the reading room.
    • Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT. Register.
    • Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT. Register.
  • Explore the recently published and extensive research guide: Latin America and the Caribbean in Photographs at the Library of Congress.
  • We are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.


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