Special Collections


Welcome to the Special Collections of the Latin American Library at Tulane University.  Our mission is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to primary source materials related to Latin America and the Caribbean that support the research needs of the Tulane community, the greater New Orleans area, and Latin American scholars from around the world.  There are several distinct divisions of collecting:  rare books and pamphlets, printed ephemera, manuscript collections, maps, rare newspapers, and visual materials.  In all, the holdings of the Latin American Library’s Special Collections total over 6,600 linear feet of unique and rare material.
The collections are topically wide-ranging but have special strengths in the following areas:  Mesoamerican anthropology, archaeology, and history; indigenous languages of Mesoamerica; Mesoamerican codices and painted texts; early modern Spanish America, including rare printed works relating to the first encounters and later travel accounts of the New World; history, society and the arts for all periods of Central America and the Southern states of Mexico; the history of travel and tourism in Latin America; art and art history of the region.  Hard copy versions of our finding aids for all of our holdings in Special Collections are available for consultation at the Latin American Library office.  They can also be searched electronically and downloaded from our Special Collections Database
Students, faculty, scholars, and members of the general public are welcome to visit and make use of our reading and seminar rooms at the Latin American Library on the 4th floor of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library upon initial registration. We also offer individual and group consultation and work with faculty to provide class sessions integrating special collections materials into their course curriculums and classrooms.   
Please contact the Curator of Special Collections, Dr. Christine Hernandez or the Director, Dr. Hortensia Calvo for more information and assistance.

Quick Links

Guidelines For Researchers
Duplication/Permissions Services
Special Collections Database
Visiting Tulane

The Curator's Corner

Item Spotlight: Celebrating Carnival in Latin America!

February 2017 ends in New Orleans with the climax of the Carnival season, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday! The Latin American Library celebrates with two images from recent acquisitions to the Image Archive. The first is from the Viki Ospina Photograph Collection that contains over 400 photographic images by Colombian photographer, Vicki Ospina. The collection highlights her long career documenting late 20th century urban and rural spaces, social life, cultures, and politics in a wide variety of Colombia regions. Above left is a shot of the Gran Marimonda figure being paraded during the 1985 Carnival celebration in Barranquilla, Colombia. The Marimonda is an iconic clown figure in Colombian carnival celebrations. This popular tradition began as a costume created by a barranquillero to mock society elites. He dressed up in old trousers, vest, tie, and a flour sack with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth outlined by a stuffed fabric tube ending in a long nose.

Our second featured resource is the Marcelo Martínez Palma Collection of Stereoscopic Slides of Yucatán. A medical doctor and amateur photographer, Martínez Palma documented the landscapes and lifestyles of northern Yucatán during the early 20th century. His themes include the urban culture of the capital city of Mérida, the workings of a henequen or sisal plantation, and the archaeological ruins at Chichén Itzá to name only a few. The 3,300 images are on stereoscopic glass slides meant to be viewed through a table top stereoscope viewer that would render the side-by-side pictures on glass as a single image in 3-D. Carnival celebrations were another favorite theme of Dr. Martinéz. Above right is a single side of a stereoscopic slide showing the La Unión float in a 1913 Carnival parade in Mérida.

To learn more about these two incredible photograph collections and other Carnival related materials, contact us to view them in the Latin American Library Reading Room or search our database using the Quick Link above.

Christine Hernández, Curator of Special Collections