Benson Special Collections News
Members of the Benson Latin American Collection special collections staff have been recognized for their work in the field of Latin American and Black Diaspora archives.
Latina/o Studies Archivist Carla Alvarez was part of a Special Collections team that put together exhibition materials on Mexican-American historian Dr. Carlos E. Castañeda, who played a central role in the early development of the Benson Latin American Collection. Castañeda is one of the namesakes of the University of Texas at Austin's Perry-Castañeda Library, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this fall. Alvarez's contribution to the exhibition focused on Castañeda's contributions as an advocate of Mexican-American rights. Alvarez was a presenter at the Voces Oral History Project Summer Institute last July.
Head of Special Collections and Senior Archivist Christina Bleyer was awarded a Presidential Travel Fellowship to attend the SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials) Conference last May, where she was chosen to serve as Archivist for SALALM Records. She also received a Research Travel Grant from the University of Florida–Gainesville to conduct research on the treatment of slaves and indigenous communities in Brazil. Bleyer was selected to attend the Archives Leadership Institute at Berea College, for which she was awarded a tuition scholarship and a travel grant. Additionally, she was re-appointed steering committee member of the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives (LACCHA) section of the Society of American Archives (SAA).
Digital Processing Archivist David Bliss received a Students and New Professionals Fellowship from the Digital Library Federation. Last May, he presented a poster on the LLILAS Benson endangered archives project in Morelia at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries. Most recently, Post-Custodial Archivist Theresa Polk and Bliss launched the first LLILAS Benson Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–sponsored project, "Cultivating a Latin American Post-Custodial Archival Practice." Under the auspices of the grant, Bliss traveled to Puebla, where he met with local partners from the Archivo Judicial (Judicial Archive) of the Poder Judicial del Estado de Puebla (Judiciary of the State of Puebla), and surveyed the Fondo Real de Cholula collection, which will be digitized later this fall or early next winter. According to Bliss, “it will preserve valuable but fragile colonial-era judicial documents from Cholula. These documents shed light on how indigenous subjects used colonial legal structures to protect their autonomy and advance their interests.”
Black Diaspora Archivist Rachel Winston was recently appointed to the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Diversity Committee, a body that “works to ensure that the organization’s services, activities, policies, communications, and products support the goal of a more diverse SAA and professional archival community” (SAA website). Winston also attended the annual conference of the Association of African American Museums in Washington, DC, on a travel scholarship last summer. The conference was hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Winston recently submitted a chapter for the volume, In Our Own Voices Redux: The Faces of Librarianship Today (Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming, 2018). Winston writes about the Black Diaspora Archive and the Texas Domestic Slave Trade Project in the most recent issue of Portal, the LLILAS Benson magazine. Read the article here.
Acquisitions and Collections Specialist Brooke Womack was busy this past summer acquisitioning archives from archaeologist Terence Grieder and Latin American art historian Jacqueline Barnitz. She also delivered some precious treasures from the Benson to the Huntington Gallery in California, a task that involved a 27-hour trip in an 18-wheeler. (Stay tuned for an illustrated article on this epic journey, coming soon!)
Photo (L–R): Christina Bleyer, Rachel Winston, Brooke Womack, Carla Alvarez, David Bliss, Theresa Polk; collage by Jennifer Mailloux