When the word hits the paper, the ideas it conveys become immortal. Histories are told. Culture is preserved. If those words are buried, the voices of those words are muted.
Arté Publico, largest publisher of contemporary and recovered Latino literature is housed in the University of Houston. Led by Professor Nicolás Kanellos, part of its mission is to preserve Latino history and culture by searching for and recovering Latino literature from colonial times to 1960.
“We do all kinds of research,” Kanellos said. “We do conventional library and archival research, looking for documents by hand, swallowing the dust of old collections, looking for people with papers and photos of family histories. We actually do bring in chests.”
These treasure hunts reveal nuggets from writers such as Clotilde Betances de Jaeger, a feminist Latina writer from the 1920s, who broke with tradition to pursue an education and newspaper writing.
To date more than 400,000 records of recovered Latino publications are compiled in a comprehensive bibliography. Hundreds of publications in microfilm, articles and books also are collected and discussed in annual conventions, and information is included in textbooks—giving voice to words and phrases long ago lost, but forever an important part of Latino history and culture.
Arté Publico is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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