ANN: Havana Archive Project

John Schwaller's picture

The Hampshire College Library announces the launch of the Havana Archive Project, an Open Access digital photographic archive containing over 8,000 photographs of the 1,055 most significant buildings in the Historic Center of Havana, Cuba—declared World Heritage Monuments by UNESCO in 1982.

 

The digital archive is hosted for public and research use by the Hampshire College library at the Five College Compass: Digital Collections and the Center for Research Libraries, at URL:https://compass.fivecolleges.edu/collections/digital-photographic-archive-historic-havana.

 

The historic buildings were identified by Dr. Eusebio Leal, Director of the Office of the Historian, at the beginning of the restoration of Havana in the early 1980s. Begun in 2012, the Havana Archive Project was a collaboration between Plan Maestro, Office of the Historian, and Jacqueline Hayden, Professor Emerita of Film and Photography, and students from Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. Hampshire published the archive on January 28, 2020, which happens to be the birth date of José Martí (January 28, 1853 - May 19, 1895), Cuban poet, journalist, translator, professor, and publisher from Havana who was considered a Cuban national hero.

 

Hampshire College has hosted a Cuba study abroad program for more than 20 years, one of the longest-running college exchange trips to Cuba in the U.S., open to college students from Hampshire and other colleges.  Read more about Hampshire in Havana exchange program. URL www.hampshire.edu/geo/hampshire-in-havana.

 

Three partners in the Five College Consortium—Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges—together host the Compass digital repository, supporting their teaching and research missions through improved access to unique materials, creating a resource for scholars and the public. Compass is a centralized platform for the three colleges to store and publish digital objects on the Web. It serves as a single point of access for culturally unique resources held by the colleges, using a collaboratively developed infrastructure to support stewardship of archival and scholarly materials. compass.fivecolleges.edu/

About the Historic Havana Digital Photo Archive

La Oficina del Plan Maestro se fundó en 1994 como la institución rectora de planificación de la Oficina del Historiador. Su objetivo era crear un plan integral de renovación, conservación y documentación visual del Centro Histórico. La "Habana Vieja" fue declarada Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO en 1982. El Centro Histórico, considerado como de alta densidad poblacional, abarca 4.4 kilómetros cuadrados (1.7 millas cuadradas) y está integrado por edificios de los siglos XVI al XIX, con calles estrechas de 5,8 m (19 pies) de ancho.

En 2012, Hampshire College, bajo la coordinación de la profesora Jacqueline Hayden, inició el proyecto del archivo fotográfico digital de La Habana Vieja conjuntamente con la Oficina del Plan Maestro. El archivo integraría parte de la colección de imágenes fotográficas de 1055 edificios significativos del Centro Histórico de La Habana tomadas en 1980 por personal del Instituto Cubano de Geodesia y Cartografía según especificaciones del Dr. Eusebio Leal, Director de la Oficina del Historiador. La profesora Hayden y el alumno de Hampshire College Guillermo Ortiz-Palacios y la especialista en Sistemas de Información Territorial del Plan Maestro, Alina González Viera, organizaron y supervisaron el escaneo del material fotográfico, siguiendo los parámetros para formatos de archivo estipulados por la Biblioteca del Congreso. Los fotógrafos del Instituto Cubano de Geodesia y Cartografía obtuvieron 4,722 negativos, aproximadamente el 80% de los cuales eran placas de vidrio de 5"x7", mientras que el 20% restante eran negativos de película de 5"x7" así como 4,722 impresiones en papel con medidas y anotaciones originales dibujadas directamente sobre los mismos y que forman parte integrante del registro visual de las obras de restauración de la ciudad vieja. Muchos de los negativos se estaban deteriorando debido a la falta de almacenamiento adecuado, al exceso de humedad y al deterioro químico. Algunos de los edificios fotografiados en los años 80 ya no existen. Por ejemplo, dos de ellos fueron demolidos para construir la nueva Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa.

Plan Maestro Office was created in 1994 with the mandate to create a master plan for the renovation and preservation of historic Havana and for the visual documentation of the city as the planning authority of the Oficina del Historiador. Listed in 1982 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Old City of Havana is a 4.4 sq km (l.7 sq mi) area of high density 16th to 19th century buildings with many narrow 5.8 m (19 ft.) wide streets.. 

In 2012, Hampshire College through Professor Jacqueline Hayden initiated the Havana Archive Project with Plan Maestro; a digital archive of the Cuban Institute of Geodesy and Cartography 1980s photographs of the 1,055 significant buildings in the Historic Center of Havana as determined by Dr. Eusebio Leal, Director of the Office of the Historian.  Professor Hayden and Hampshire College alum Guillermo Ortiz-Palacios with Alina Gonzalez, Specialist in Territorial Information System at Plan Maestro, organized and directed the scanning, following the Library of Congress guidelines for file formats.  The photographers from the Cuban Institute of Geodesy and Cartography made 4,722 negatives, approximately 80% of which are 5” x 7” glass plate negatives while the remaining 20% are 5” x 7” film negatives and 4,722 positive contact prints that have original measurements and notations drawn directly on them and form an integral part of the visual record of the working restoration of the old city of Havana. Many of the negatives were deteriorating from lack of humidity-controlled storage and chemical deterioration.  Some of the buildings photographed in the 1980s survey no longer exist. For example, two were demolished to build the new Russian Orthodox Church on that site.

Image credit: San Ignacio from the Havana Archive Project

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Hampshire College Library is grateful for the generosity of the Center for Research Libraries’ Latin American Materials Project (LAMP), which awarded Hampshire a grant in 2015 to create metadata and complete the digitization of the photographs.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Launch announcement from Hampshire College Library Director Rachel Beckwith:https://sites.hampshire.edu/theharold/2020/01/28/launch-of-long-awaited-havana-archive-project/

 

MEDIA CONTACT
John Courtmanche, Hampshire College www.hampshire.edu Amherst, Mass.
Twitter @hampshirecolg FB www.facebook.com/hampshirecollege
jcourtmanche@hampshire.edu 413-559-6180 (W) 860-778-4508 (M)