About the Rare Printed Materials Collection
The Latin American Library's Rare Printed Materials Collection numbers over 14,500 titles and includes rare books, periodicals, broadsides and pamplets. The rare collection includes a large number of rare and first editions from the colonial and national periods of Mexico, Central America, and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; and is a particularly rich resource for advanced research on the history and cultures of central Mexico and the Mayan regions of southern Mexico and Central America.
The collection started in 1924 with the purchase of the William Gates Collection by Samuel Zemurray, President of the Cuyamel Fruit Company, who donated it to Tulane University. The Gates Collection included several thousand books, including dozens of Mexican incunables and other rare colonial imprints; hundreds of late 19th century government publications; volumes relating to the Maximilian period and to the Porfiriato; and contemporary works and ephemera of the Mexican Revolution. The Rare Printed Materials Collection was later augmented by the acquisition of the Mackie Collection, which includes a large number of 19th century imprints with fascinating images of South America and the Caribbean. Subsequent acquisitions have emphasized 19th and early 20th century periodicals from Mexico and other countries.
Strongly represented in the collection are chronicles of friars and priests, which provide invaluable information on Indian life, art, and culture in the colonial period. Vocabularies, grammars and dictionaries of Indian languages by early missionaries are another rich resource in the collection, as are the numerous accounts of early voyages to the New World.
These pages include a selection of rare printed materials published in each region and chronological period of Latin American history and cover a great diversity of topics. The collection's focus on the colonial period and the nineteenth century is shown in this estimated distribution of publication dates of the books in the collection: pre-1800 (22%); 1800-1849 (22%); 1850-1899 (26%); 1900-1949 (15%); and 1950 and beyond (15%).
Titles in the Rare Printed Materials Collection are cataloged and may be identified using the Tulane University Libraries Catalog.