[Many thanks to Leslie Offutt for bringing this item to our attention.] The Hampshire College Library recently announced 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 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.
[. . .] 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
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.
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.
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[Image above: Detail from the San Ignacio from the Havana Archive Project.]