Campus News - September 17, 2001
Library acquires Latin American posters
McCune Foundation assists with collection preservation
The UNM General Library (UNMGL), widely recognized as a major Latin Americana
research facility in the United States, recently acquired a collection of more
than 11,000 Latin American and Spanish political posters from a private collector
and scholar in Mississippi.
The collection, valued at $230,000, believed to be the largest of its kind
in the world, constitutes a unique visual record of political, social and cultural
life in Latin America and Spain from the late 1960s to present. The library
is purchasing 720 Cuban posters, valued at $60,000, with the remainder of the
collection being donated.
The library successfully sought a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation
to allow it to purchase map cases and archival materials in which to store and
preserve the collection.
The Sam L. Slick Collection of Latin American & Iberian Posters, named
after its originator and long-time owner, is largely unduplicated in other repositories.
The posters, ranging in size from 24X36 to billboard size, will
be catalogued and preserved, but a strong emphasis will also be given to reproducing
images for classroom use.
That this collection exists is attributable to the single-minded interest
and dedication of Sam Slick, a former Spanish professor at the University of
Southern Mississippi, says Russ Davidson, curator of Latin American and
Iberian Collections for UNMGL.
Sam Slick was at Sam Houston State University in the mid-70s when he
started collecting. He latched onto political posters as a key documentary source
for interpreting Latin American social and political reality, says Davidson,
who adds that Slick built up a wide network of contacts among embassy, university
and cultural offices who periodically sent posters to him.
The subject matter of the posters, says Davidson, is rich and varied,
encompassing campaigns and elections, workers strikes, literacy campaigns,
solidarity and human rights movements, feminism, anti-imperialism, environmental
and public health campaigns and other topics.
Davidson met Slick when he co-organized a conference panel on the visual representation
of Latin American popular culture. I wanted him on the panel. It coincided
with his decision, not reached easily, to dispose of the collection. He thought
it suitable to donate it to a repository with strength in Latin American materials,
particularly in popular and graphic art, he says. Davidson says that other
institutions approached him to purchase the collection, but because of his friendship
with Slick, and UNMs strong reputation in Latin American studies, we
gained the upper hand, he says.
The collection had already been organized by country with some rudimentary
cataloging, says Davidson. Because the University of Mississippi gave
Slick space in its library to house the posters, they are generally in excellent
We have begun a long-term project to catalog and preserve the collection.
Other components of the project include digitizing selected images and making
them available on the Web, organizing a poster exhibit, planned for 2003, in
collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and loaning segments
of the collection to other libraries and museums for exhibit, says Davidson.
The Sam L. Slick collection enhances the librarys already extensive Latin
American pictorial holdings.
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