Latin American Collection


The foundation of the Latin American collections at Yale was established early in the 20th century with a succession of acquisitions and gifts from Henry Raup Wagner, William S. Beebe, and Hiram Bingham.  Wagner and Bingham were Yale alumni whose substantial gifts to Yale included collections rich in nineteenth-century Latin American material.  These collections were notable for their historical, political, and economic materials relating to México and Perú.  Hiram Bingham, Yale professor of history and curator of Yale’s collection of Latin American history from 1908-1930, sold and donated to Yale a collection of Peruvian materials strong in literature, archaeology, anthropology, and folklore.  His gifts also included the Francisco Pérez de Velasco library of nineteenth-century Peruvian history, and many books from the Mexican historian Genaro García.  All of these acquisitions made Yale’s Mexican and Peruvian collections internationally known. 

The Library also has an impressive collection of Brazilian materials.  The strength of the collection lies in the sizable numbers of works on Brazilian history, literature, travel accounts, and regional histories.  The collection is particularly rich in materials relating to colonial Brazilian history. Other collections of major importance are those representing Argentina, Chile, Cuba, and the Cuban Revolution. Yale is also a key repository of Central Americana. Spanish and Portuguese literatures are also strongly represented in the collections. 

Although Yale’s concentration of Latin American research material is housed in Sterling Memorial Library, there are important collections in the Divinity, Law, and Beinecke Libraries.  Smaller collections are found in the Music, Art, and Medical Libraries, and the Peabody Museum. Marx Science and Social Science Library contains extensive holdings of statistical publications issued by government agencies, private institutions, and central banks from every country in Latin America.

Departments/disciplines/programs/subject areas supported

The Latin American Collection supports the academic program of the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, as well as the Latin American area studies course concentrations for doctoral programs in anthropology, art history, economics, history, political science, sociology, and forestry and environmental studies. 

Subjects Collected:

Anthropology, art history, economics, education, general reference, geography and travel, history, language and linguistics, literature, music, official documents, philosophy, political science, government and international relations, religion, sociology, theatre, television and cinema.

Subjects Not Collected:

As a rule the Latin American Collection does not acquire materials in the natural sciences, the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and law. Science and medicine have been collected only as they relate to the historical development of the area. Other subjects in which materials are acquired very selectively include forestry, environmental studies, folk medicine, and public health.  Other subjects not acquired include: Art; economic statistics; census and surveys; music; psychology; religious tracts, devotional, inspirational, missions, denominations; technology; how-to books; agronomy and animal care (except for economic aspects of agriculture and animal raising); children’s literature.

Formats collected

Books, graphic novels, serials, newspapers, microforms, audio-visual, online databases, computer files, maps, pamphlets, and selective collections of manuscript materials.

Languages collected

Most material acquired is in the two principal languages of the region, Spanish and Portuguese, but also includes publications in French, English, Dutch, Creole and Haitian-Creole, and Latin American indigenous languages (Quechua, Quichua, Nahuatl, Kaqchikel, Guaraní).   

Chronological and geographical focus

Materials published in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean are emphasized. Materials from the U.S., Europe, and other areas of the world are also purchased.    

As a rule, collecting (except literature) is heavy for the following countries: Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica.  Collecting is moderate for the following countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, the rest of Central America.  Only core materials are collected for: Ecuador, Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana, Bolivia.

A concentrated focus for literature is carried out for all countries.

The emphasis is on purchasing current materials.  A limited amount of retrospective research materials, usually added to the Manuscripts and Archives collections, is acquired on occasion.

Collaborations within Yale

  • Art Library
  • Bass Library
  • Beinecke Library
  • Divinity Library
  • Geology Library
  • Law Library
  • Marx Science and Social Science Library
  • Music Library
  • Manuscripts and Archives
  • Map Collection
  • Humanities Collections and Research Education

Constant and careful coordination takes place between the Latin American Collection and these libraries and departments to ensure that duplication does not occur.

External collaborations

  • (LANE) Latin America North East Libraries Consortium – The Latin American Collection has a cooperative collection development agreement with the LANE members for collecting in Brazil.
  • (LARRP) Latin American Research Resources Project – The Latin American Collection and YUL has maintained a cooperative collection development with the member institutions of LARRP for Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
  • Ivy Plus Brazilian Collaboration – Nine universities within Ivy Plus have agreed to distribute the coverage of Brazilian monographs among the members along regional/geographic lines.  This allows for the collecting of relevant newly published monographs outside of the megacities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Participating libraries agree to maintain in-depth research-level collections in one or more state regions.  Yale collects for the states of Paraíba and Pernambuco.
  • Harvard-Yale Mexican Collaborative Collection Development Agreement – Harvard and Yale agreed to distribute coverage of Mexican materials along regional/geographic lines dividing Mexico into two sections.  This allows for the collecting of relevant newly published monographs and serials in more depth.  Yale and Harvard agree to maintain in-depth research-level collections for their region.   

Subject Librarian

Jana Krentz
Librarian for Latin American, Iberian & Latinx Studies
Latin American & Iberian Collections
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)
(203) 432-1845