Rare Books


The Latin American Library houses over 14,500 titles of rare printed items that include rare books, journals, newspapers, broadsides, and pamphlets.

Rare books, periodicals, and pamphlet titles are cataloged and may be identified using the Tulane University Libraries Catalog via the upper search box above. Users may also consult the Special Collections card catalog in the Latin American Library office to identify rare books by author, title and subject headings.

Our Rare Book Collection includes a large number of rare first editions and titles uniquely held at Tulane. It is one of the most comprehensive in the United States for titles 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, painted books, and cultures of central Mexico with a particularly strong focus on the indigenous Maya in the regions of southern Mexico and Central America.


The collection originated with the purchase of the William Gates Collection in 1924. The Gates Collection contained several thousand books, including dozens of Mexican incunabula and other rare colonial imprints; hundreds of late 19th century government publications; volumes relating to the Maximilian period and to the Porfiriato in Mexico; and contemporary works and ephemera of the Mexican Revolution. Rare book holdings were later augmented by the acquisition of the Mackie Collection, which included 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 Latin American countries.

Strongly represented as well 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 travel accounts of early voyages to the New World and later expeditions documenting life in the Americas.


Questions?  Contact Christine Hern├índez, LAL's Curator of Special Collections.