Cushing Library Awarded Grant for Mexican Colonial Collection

Marketing and Communications | January 09, 2012

Cushing Memorial Library and Archives has been awarded a grant for $84,500 from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for the Mexican Colonial Collection, Discovering a New World: Cataloging Old and Rare Imprints from Colonial and Early Independent Mexico.

Acquired with lead funding from Jim and Molly Crawley of Oklahoma City, as well as additional funding from Ben and Betty Huss of Flower Mound, Texas, and The Hamill Foundation in Houston, the collection was assembled with the assistance of rare and antiquarian booksellers from around the world. It consists of more than 3,000 books, manuscripts, broadsides, newspapers, pamphlets and devotionals covering aspects of life in Mexico (New Spain) from the mid–16th to the mid–19th centuries.

A substantial number of items have been cataloged already and are searchable via WorldCat and the Libraries' online catalog, according to Anton duPlessis, curator and a principal investigator of the project.

“This grant will help us finish cataloging the collection during the next two years and make these untapped materials available to the greater academic community, especially specialists in Colonial Mexico," duPlessis said.

The collection, containing items such as ephemera, newspapers, a painting and cookbooks, is of interest to scholars in the fields of history, religion, literature, politics, art and architecture, history of the book, linguistics, and other topics relating to life in, and the history of, New Spain and, by extension, the “New World,” according to Felicia Piscitelli, rare book and special collections cataloger and a principal investigator of the project.

“A multitude of scholars will find interest in this collection,” Piscitelli said. “Because of the vastness of the collection and the work that has already been put into this project, users will find it easy to locate a treasure trove of information.”

Lisa Furubotten, serials cataloging librarian and a principal investigator of the project, said the collection encompasses every day life infused with significant history.

“Some of the most fascinating items are documents from the tribunal of the Inquisition, as well as other legal documents,” Furubotten said. “We also have early catechisms and textbooks in native languages, sermons, prayer books, newspapers and speeches concerning Mexico's independence movement. Our goal is to share this wonderful array of items with as many researchers and interested parties as we can; this grant will definitely help us accomplish that goal.”

Created in 2008 and supported by ongoing funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program of CLIR supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate.

Award recipients create web-accessible records according to standards that enable the federation of their local cataloging entries into larger groups of related records, enabling the broadest possible exposure to the scholarly community.