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Bolivia: Hispanic Reading Room Country Guide

Digital Collections and Services

The Library of Congress has over 20 centers that provide research space and guidance for users to interact with collection items based on subject or format. The Hispanic Reading Room curates materials from 61 countries and/or regions in 26 different languages and in varying formats such as books, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and digital objects. The Hispanic Reading Room staff provides access to materials from the General Collections and helps point researchers to relevant items in other reading rooms. Selected digitized primary source materials from the Library’s collections are highlighted below along with links for further exploration.

Folklife, Ethnographic Materials

Alan Lomax Collection, Manuscripts, Performance style, Choreometrics, coding, Early Coding and Consensus, Area I, South America I, Equador and Bolivia. 1962-1985. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The Library's American Folklife Center houses one of the largest archives of ethnographic materials from the United States and around the world, which include extensive audiovisual documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions, and oral histories offering researchers access to the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from diverse communities. Some of the collections include Bolivian folks songs from the Aymara and Quechua indigenous communities, songs performed by ensembles from the provinces of Aroma, Pacajes, and Saavedra, and ritual songs from the Bolivian highlands consisting of the propitiation of crops, hunting, quail hunting and drum and flute music from the Bolivian lowlands.

Prints, Photographs, Visual Materials

The Library's Prints and Photographs Division is the repository for a rich collection of prints, photographs, and other visual materials on and about Bolivia from significant artists and photographers. Many of these items have been digitized and are available to researchers online. Many other visual materials are available to researchers in the Library's Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

Frank G. Carpenter, photographer. Porters carrying trunks on their back on a street in La Paz, Bolivia.[between 1890 and 1923]. Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
Rubber worker in Bolivia. [between 1909 and 1920]. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Law, Legal Materials

The Law Library of Congress includes a vast collection on foreign legal materials, such as Constitutions, Codes, Session laws, Commentaries and indexes to laws, rules and regulations, Judicial court decisions and reports, and Legal bibliographies.

Access to legal materials related to Bolivia are provided by the Law Library, including:

Manuscripts, Archival Materials

The Manuscript Division holds approximately sixty million items in eleven thousand separate collections, including some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history and culture and support scholarly research in many aspects of political, cultural, and scientific history. The Library's Manuscript Reading Room provides access to archival materials on and about Bolivia, including primary sources from cultural figures, authors, and politicians.

In addition to the satisfaction that came with professional accomplishments, we had a wonderful personal life seeing exotic places and meeting fascinating people. Bolivia was the kind of place that produces and attracts rugged individualists, renaissance men and adventurers. Bolivia will remain etched in our memories since it was our first long term tour in a truly “different” place, and perhaps most significantly, because our first child was born in La Paz in a small missionary clinic.

Quote from Aaron Benjamin's interview for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
Foreign Affairs Oral History Project Foreign Assistance Series. 1996. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Selected Finding Aids

The selected finding aids linked below describe manuscript collections significant for researching Bolivia. Finding aids can be particularly useful when assessing the full contents of a manuscript collection.

Samuel Augustus Mitchell, geographer. New Universal Atlas. 1849. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Cartographic Materials

The Library's Geography and Map Division has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 5000 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats. Many of these materials have been digitized and are available online. Materials that have not been digitized are available from the Geography and Map Reading Room. The 19th century map shown here include the heights of the principal mountains in the world, including Mount Illimani in Bolivia.

Film, Video, Television

The Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division holds one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world, spanning the entire history of cinema. Many of these resources have been digitized and are available online. Access to these collection items, if not digitized, research assistance is available through the Moving Image Research Center.

This 20th century film by Anthony Fiala of the Madeira River, shared between Bolivia and Brazil, captures the visit of President Theodore Roosevelt to South America.

Jesse Julian, composer.Bolivia, sheet music. 1909. Library of Congress Music Division.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Reading Room (part of the Library's Music Division) provides access to classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.

To hear recordings or interact with audio materials in the Library's collections visit the Recorded Sound Research Center which is part of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

Acarete du Biscay. An account of a voyage to South America, including Potosí, Bolivia. 1698. Pre-1801 Imprint Collection. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Rare Books, Special Collections

Rare materials in the Library of Congress collections are vast and filled with treasures. Researchers should visit the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room to learn more about rare materials available online as well as special collections that contain significant resources on Bolivia.