Distinctive Latin American Ephemera Collection exhibit open through December

Home to the Program in Latin American Studies, Aaron Burr Hall now features an exhibit on the second and third floors, displaying primary source materials from PUL’s unique Latin American Ephemera Collection. In honor of the Latin American Studies Program’s 50th anniversary, the exhibit highlights the complexity and diversity of Latin America in a broad manner, much like the ephemeral collection it stems from. On their exhibit brochure, PLAS describes the ephemera collection as “unmatched in depth and scope” and “widely recognized as an invaluable resource for researchers and students of Latin America.”

LAE opening board

The Latin American Ephemera Collection (LAE) contains rare primary sources of items, such as pamphlets, brochures, flyers, and posters, that widely represent Latin American cultures and countries through publications and materials from social activists, non-governmental and governmental organizations, and political parties, among other sources.

As a celebration of its semicentennial birthday, PLAS organizes activities and events to commemorate their achievement, and the LAE exhibit is one. “[PLAS sees] the Library as a really central and important part of the program, and they wanted the Library to be featured in that celebration. We’re doing that through the ephemera collection,” said Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies.

Acosta-Rodríguez and his colleague, Gabrielle Winkler, Special Collections Assistant for the LAE, curated, designed, and built the exhibit. In it, they paid special attention to Latin American social movements, such as civil rights and activism surrounding issues like race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, education, and the environment.

Fernando Acosta-Rodriguez and Gabrielle Winkler

Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies, and Gabrielle Winkler, Special Collections Assistant for LAE


“These materials show you points of view and aspects of culture – of political and popular culture – that you do not see in mainstream media, that you cannot catch in the press, that you cannot see in academic and scholarly publications,” said Acosta-Rodríguez.

The collection began in the early 1970s when the University’s first Bibliographer for Latin America, Spain, and Portugal (1966-1977), Barbara Stein, saw a need to document items related to political changes in Latin American countries, such as the rise of dictatorships and the Cuban Revolution. The collection grew under her successor, Peter T. Johnson, who widened the geographical and thematic scope. Acosta-Rodríguez now oversees the collection, and under his supervision, the ephemeral collection will move towards open, digital access.

LAE exhibit

As of now, many items in the collection live only on microfilm, which presented a challenge in coordinating the exhibit. But in time, the exhibit items and the LAE will be available on the Library’s website as Acosta-Rodríguez, Winkler, and colleagues digitize over 300 ephemeral items per month to be added to the Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera. The Digital Archive currently contains nearly 12,000 digitized items.

The exhibit mirrors the collection’s growth and expansion over the last 50 years. Visitors should begin on the third floor from left to right, where the displays contain the beginning of the collection, then move on to the second floor from right to left, where recent additions can be seen. The exhibit is open through December.

Acosta-Rodríguez and Winkler said the exhibit was a “true collaboration” between PUL and PLAS. In particular, they wanted to thank the PLAS staff; the Library Technical Services staff who were instrumental in acquiring and processing the items for the exhibit; Elaine Romano ’19, LAE Student Assistant; Danielle Vuong, Special Collections Assistant; and John Walako, Coordinator of Exhibition Services. Their assistance and collaboration brought the exhibit to life.

For more information on LAE, visit the LAE Collection website.

Congratulations to PLAS on their 50th anniversary. For more information, visit the PLAS website

Written by Stephanie Ramírez, Communications Assistant

Contact: Library Communications, Barbara Valenza, Communications Manager