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The University of South Florida Library is contributing materials to the Digital Library of the Caribbean project from their Digital Special Collections. The University of South Florida Library System and the Tampa Library Special and Digital Collections Department in particular, is strong in the Hispanic history of Florida and the Caribbean region. Strengths include the cigar industry and the culture of the people who made that business possible.
Ybor City and West Tampa were established in the late 1800s to support cigar manufacturing. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the communities drew a large number of Caribbean immigrants that traced their heritage to northern Spain. As the populations grew, civic and neighborhood organizations, businesses, medical establishments, and recreational activities increasingly became available to support the needs of an ethnically diverse community.
Collection highlights include extensive runs of one community and two industry newspapers, records for four mutual aid societies, dozens of oral history interviews, personal and business papers of Cuban immigrants to Florida, and an expansive lithographic art collection (primarily related to the cigar industry).
In addition to archival collections, Special Collections maintains two separate monographic collections that focus on the literature, politics and socio-cultural history of Latin America and Cuba, with particular emphasis on Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Latin American and Cuban collections primarily consist of Spanish-language monographs published throughout Latin America and include cultural studies and political and social histories, novels, and works of poetry by Latin American authors. These collections also include an extensive collection of rare Bolivian monographs, handmade books from Ediciones Vigía in Cuba, works by and about Jose Martí, and a small selection of serial and governmental publications, including a multi-volume set of Cuba’s Colección Legislativa dating back to 1899.