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Lydia Cabrera Papers

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Correspondence

Personal Papers

Works and research files

Photographs

Colonial Cuba materials

Writings by others

Memorabilia and art work

María Teresa Rojas papers



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Lydia Cabrera Papers, 1910-1991 | University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection

By Final version by Marta Martínez, María Jiménez, and Rahid Chadid; edited by Natalie Baur, 2012.

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Collection Overview

Title: Lydia Cabrera Papers, 1910-1991Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: CHC0339

Creator: Cabrera, Lydia

Extent: 76.0 Boxes

Arrangement: This collection is arranged into eight series: Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1910-1991 Series 2: Personal Papers, 1916-1992 Series 3: Works and Research Files, 1930-1987 Series 4: Photographs, 1901-1991 Series 5: Colonial Cuba, undated, 1559-1940s Series 6: Writings by Others, 1885-1991 Series 7: Memorabilia and Art Work, 1865-1986 Series 8: Teresa María Rojas Papers, 1959-1978

Languages: Spanish;Castilian

Abstract

The Lydia Cabrera Papers contain the personal and research papers of 20th century Cuban anthropologist, writer, and artist, Lydia Cabrera.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Lydia Cabrera papers document the life and career of writer and ethnographer Lydia Cabrera, one of the 20th century’s leading writers on Cuban folklore and an internationally known chronicler of Afro-Cuban culture and religion. The materials include correspondence, manuscripts of her works, field notes,interviews, photographs, illustrations, and memorabilia. This collection also contains documentation about the restoration of several colonial buildings in Cuba.

A highlight of the collection are the libretas, or notebooks, collected by Cabrera from Santeria priests and priestesses that document rituals and religious practices of the Afro-Cuban faith. These are found in Series 3 along with her manuscripts and field notes.

Part of this collection has been digitized and is available in the University of Miami Digital Collections online repository.

Biographical Note

Lydia Cabrera was born in Havana, Cuba on May 20, 1899. Her father, Raimundo Cabrera, was a lawyer. He was a member of the pro-independence intellectuals known as the “generation of 1868” and founder of the literary and political magazine Cuba y America. Lydia, an avid reader, was taught at home. She was strongly influenced by her father’s nationalist feelings and cultural background, her sister Emma’s love of art, and her nannies’ African and Afro Cuban stories, language and traditions.

Lydia completed her secondary school without ever attending classes and started auditing college courses. Although she published her first articles in the Diario de la Marina at age eighteen, her first love was painting, and she attended the San Alejandro Academy of Arts for a brief period.

In 1927, Cabrera moved to Paris to study painting and remained in France for eleven years.  Graduating from  L'Ecole du Louvre in 1930, she subsequently studied with Russian exile artist Alexandra Exter. During this time, Lydia began to study Asian cultures and religions, and her research in this area lead to a renewed interest in Afro Cuban culture. Later in her life, Cabrera stated that she “discovered Cuba in the banks of the Seine”.

During short trips to her native country while living in Paris, Cabrera began to make preliminary contacts with the future informants of her ethnology research. Back in Paris, she wrote her first Cuentos Negros. The stories were read at literary gatherings and later published in several reviews such as Cahiers du Sud, Revue de Paris, and Les Nouvelles Littéraires. A French translation by literary critic Francis de Miomandre was published by Gallimard in 1936 as a collection entitled Contes Nègres de Cuba.

Cabrera returned to Cuba in 1938 with the purpose of doing research on the subject of folklore, conscious of the need to preserve this vital element of Cuban culture for posterity. The first Spanish edition of Cuentos negros de Cuba was published in1940 in Havana; a second work of fiction, ¿Por Qué? Cuentos Negros de Cuba, Colección del Chicherekú, was published in 1948.

Cabrera distinguished her work by writing with a new voice and style and positioned herself at the forefront by conducting field research, which required her to spend years gaining the trust of her informants. She traveled within the island conducting interviews, collecting oral histories, recording stories and music, documenting rituals and practices, and cataloging “Africanisms” of Cuban Spanish. The result was El Monte (The Forest or The Wilderness), published in 1954, a formative work on Afro Cuban religions and liturgy.

Cabrera left Cuba as an exile in 1960 and she did not produce any writing for ten years. In 1970, Cabrera published Otán Iyebiyé, Las Piedras Preciosas and in 1971 the third volume of “cuentos negros” Ayapá: Cuentos de Jicotea, followed by other publications. She published one of her most well known works, Anaforuana, about the secret Abakuá society, in 1975. Her writings in exile are considered by some critics to be among her best because of the intellectual and emotional maturity she had achieved. She had become internationally recognized and honored for her contributions to literature, ethnology and anthropology.

She died in Miami on September 19th, 1991. During her long and prolific career Cabrera produced what is considered the most complete and important body of research on Afro Caribbean religions and folklore. She was one of the first to recognize the richness of African culture and its vital contributions to Cuban identity. Her work remains a leading authority of Afro Cuban culture.

Subject/Index Terms

Blacks - Cuba - Folklore
Cabrera, Lydia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research. Box 27A is restricted due to the fragile nature of the originals. Facsimile copies of the materials in that box are available for research use.

Use Restrictions: Literary rights to the works authored by Lydia Cabrera, both published and unpublished, are held by Isabel Castellanos. Requests to publish or display materials from this collection require written permission from the rights owner. Please, contact chc@miami.edu for more information.

Acquisition Method: Gift of Lydia Cabrera, 1991.  Additional materials were donated in 2006 by Jose de Armas and in 2007 by Isabel Castellanos.

Original/Copies Note: Selected materials from Series 1: Correspondence and Series 2: Photographs of this collection have been digitized. For more information please see http://merrick.library.miami.edu/cubanHeritage/chc0339/.

Preferred Citation: Lydia Cabrera Papers, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida

Processing Information: María R. Estorino and Eugenio Alonso, October 2002-January 2003. Retrospectively converted from HTML to EAD XML September, 2008 by Lyn MacCorkle and Kyle Rimkus based on a crosswalk by María Estorino. This collection was to an extent reprocessed by Marta Martínez, María Jiménez, and Rahid Chadid in Spring 2012 to update the container list to correspond with physical holdings.

Finding Aid Revision History: Full container list and edited finding aid added by Natalie Baur, August, 2012.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1910-[1991?]],
[Series 2: Personal Papers, 1916-1992, undated],
[Series 3: Works and research files, 1930-1987, undated],
[Series 4: Photographs, 1901-1991, undated],
[Series 5: Colonial Cuba materials, 1559-1940s, undated],
[Series 6: Writings by others, 1885-1991, undated],
[Series 7: Memorabilia and art work, 1865-1986, undated],
[Series 8: María Teresa Rojas papers, 1935-1987, undated],
[All]

Series 1: Correspondence, 1910-[1991?]Add to your cart.
Series 1 of the Lydia Cabrera Papers contains letters and other correspondence sent and received by Cabrera. Sub-series 1 contains correspondence from Lydia Cabrera, and Sub-series 2 contains correspondence to Lydia Cabrera.  It is arranged in chronological order, with certain folders arranged by correspondent. Selected letters from this series have been digitized.  For an index of digitized letters by correspondent, visit
Sub-Series 1: From Lydia Cabrera, 1910-1984Add to your cart.
Sub-series 1 consists of letters sent by Lydia Cabrera to various correspondents. It is arranged chronologically followed by her letters to selected correspondents alphabetically, specifically Isabel Castellanos, Katherine Dunham, Octavio Paz, and Pierre "Fatumbi" Verger.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: From Lydia Cabrera, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: From Lydia Cabrera, 1910-1933Add to your cart.
Folder 3: From Lydia Cabrera, 1960-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 4: From Lydia Cabrera, 1976-1980Add to your cart.
Folder 5: From Lydia Cabrera, 1981-1984Add to your cart.
Folder 6: From Lydia Cabrera to Castellanos, Isabel, 1980Add to your cart.
Folder 7: From Lydia Cabrera to Dunham, Katherine, 1969-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 8: From Lydia Cabrera to Paz, Octavio, 1981-1982, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: From Lydia Cabrera to del Pozo, Alberto, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: From Lydia Cabrera to Verger, Pierre (Fatumbi), 1983Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: To Lydia Cabrera, 1929-[1991?]Add to your cart.
The first part of Sub-series 2 is arranged chronologically containing letters from various correspondents between 1929 and 1990. The second part of Sub-series 2 consists of letters to Cabrera from prominent correspondents or those with extensive correspondence with Cabrera. Included here are letters from Cuban writers Reinaldo Arenas, Gastón Baquero, Eugenio Florit, Enrique Labrador Ruiz, and Lino Novás Calvo; Cuban artist Amelia Peláez; Spanish poet Carmen Conde; and several French colleagues of Cabrera's, including Francis de Miomandre, Marcel Hiver, Roger Callois, Roger Bastide, and Pierre "Fatumbi" Verger, the renowned ethnographer of Afro-Brazilian religion and culture with whom Cabrera maintained a prolonged correspondence.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 11: To Lydia Cabrera, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: To Lydia Cabrera, 1929-1939Add to your cart.
Folder 13: To Lydia Cabrera, 1945-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 14: To Lydia Cabrera, 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 15: To Lydia Cabrera, 1962Add to your cart.
Folder 16: To Lydia Cabrera, 1963-1964Add to your cart.
Folder 17: To Lydia Cabrera, 1965-1966Add to your cart.
Folder 18: To Lydia Cabrera, 1967Add to your cart.
Folder 19: To Lydia Cabrera, 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 20: To Lydia Cabrera, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 21: To Lydia Cabrera, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 22: To Lydia Cabrera, 1971Add to your cart.
Folder 23: To Lydia Cabrera, 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 24: To Lydia Cabrera, 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 25: To Lydia Cabrera, 1974Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: To Lydia Cabrera, 1975Add to your cart.
Folder 2: To Lydia Cabrera, 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 3: To Lydia Cabrera, 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 4: To Lydia Cabrera, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 5: To Lydia Cabrera, 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 6: To Lydia Cabrera, 1980Add to your cart.
Folder 7: To Lydia Cabrera, 1981Add to your cart.
Folder 8: To Lydia Cabrera, 1982Add to your cart.
Folder 9: To Lydia Cabrera, 1983Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: To Lydia Cabrera, 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 2: To Lydia Cabrera, 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 3: To Lydia Cabrera, 1986Add to your cart.
Folder 4: To Lydia Cabrera, 1987Add to your cart.
Folder 5: To Lydia Cabrera, 1988Add to your cart.
Folder 6: To Lydia Cabrera, 1989-1990Add to your cart.
Folder 7: To Lydia Cabrera from Arenas, Reinaldo, 1980-1988Add to your cart.
Folder 8: To Lydia Cabrera from Amalia Bacardí, Amalia, 1967-1980, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: To Lydia Cabrera from Baquero, Gastón, undated,1978-1991Add to your cart.
Folder 10: To Lydia Cabrera from Bastide, Roger, 1960-1974Add to your cart.
Folder 11: To Lydia Cabrera from Cabrera-Infante, Guillermo, 1963-1983Add to your cart.
Folder 12: To Lydia Cabrera from Callois, Roger, 1960-1976Add to your cart.
Folder 13: To Lydia Cabrera from Castellanos, Isabel, 1976-1984Add to your cart.
Folder 14: To Lydia Cabrera from Conde, Carmen, 1974-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 15: To Lydia Cabrera from  Dunham, Katherine, 1969-1982Add to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: To Lydia Cabrera from Ferrara, Orestes, 1964-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 2: To Lydia Cabrera from Florit, Eugenio, 1974-1982Add to your cart.
Folder 3: To Lydia Cabrera from Hernández-Larrondo. Candelario, 1964-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 4: To Lydia Cabrera from Hiriart, Rosario, 1975-1987, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: To Lydia Cabrera from Hiver, Marcel, 1960-1983Add to your cart.
Folder 6: To Lydia Cabrera from Inclán, Josefina, 1966-1980, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: To Lydia Cabrera from Labrador-Ruiz, Enrique, 1981Add to your cart.
Folder 8: To Lydia Cabrera from Longoria, Alicia, 1924Add to your cart.
Folder 9: To Lydia Cabrera from Mistral, Gabriela, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: To Lydia Cabrera from de Miomandre, Francis, 1936-1956, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: To Lydia Cabrera from Novas-Calvo, Lino, 1963-1973, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: To Lydia Cabrera from Paz, Octavio, 1976-1978Add to your cart.
Folder 13: To Lydia Cabrera from de la Parra, Teresa, 1927-1937, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: To Lydia Cabrera from de la Parra, Teresa, 1927-1937, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: To Lydia Cabrera from de la Parra, Teresa, 1933-1935Add to your cart.
Folder 16: To Lydia Cabrera from Peláez, Amelia, 1966-1968Add to your cart.
Folder 17: To Lydia Cabrera from del Prado, Pura, 1971Add to your cart.
Folder 18: To Lydia Cabrera from Tarafa, Josefina, 1963-1978, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: To Lydia Cabrera from Tellez, Mercedes (Kawama), 1961-1983Add to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: To Lydia Cabrera from Verger, Pierre (Fatumbi), 1958-1989Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Other correspondence to Castellanos, Isabel, 1986-1997Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Other correspondence to de Miomandre, Francis, 1929-1936Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Other correspondence, 1913-1963Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Other correspondence, undated, 1967-1983Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1910-[1991?]],
[Series 2: Personal Papers, 1916-1992, undated],
[Series 3: Works and research files, 1930-1987, undated],
[Series 4: Photographs, 1901-1991, undated],
[Series 5: Colonial Cuba materials, 1559-1940s, undated],
[Series 6: Writings by others, 1885-1991, undated],
[Series 7: Memorabilia and art work, 1865-1986, undated],
[Series 8: María Teresa Rojas papers, 1935-1987, undated],
[All]



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