Established in 1834 in a city with economic and cultural ties with the Caribbean, Tulane University has an historic orientation toward Latin America and the Caribbean. The Latin American Library reflects the university's long-term commitment to Latin American studies. The library was established in 1924 to support the Middle American Research Institute
. A generous donation from Samuel Zemurray made possible the acquisition of a substantial portion of the William Gates Collection which formed the cornerstone of Tulane University's library. The initial focus was the archaeology, anthropology and history of Mesoamerica but after the collection was relocated to Howard-Tilton in the early 1960s, the scope was broadened to cover most subject disciplines and all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, the collection is one of the most comprehensive of its kind, including materials from the contact period to the present day.