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Chile: Hispanic Division 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 Division 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

The American Folklife Center was created to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. Nowadays, the American Folklife Center is one of the largest archives of ethnographic materials from the United States and around the world, encompassing millions of items of ethnographic and historical documentation recorded from the nineteenth century to the present. These collections, which include extensive audiovisual documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions, and oral histories, offer researchers access to the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from diverse communities.

Brawny shovelers at nitrate reduction plant. Chile. 1918. Stereo copyrighted by the Keystone View Co. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
Nitrates are used in the production of fertilizers and explosives. After the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), Chile annexed the Antofagasta and Tarapacá regions, gaining a near world-wide monopoly on the production of natural nitrates (saltpeter, in this case).

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 Chile 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. The images shown here are representative of the prints and photographs you may find through your searches.

Chilean cowboy
Señora Maria Vial de Prieto petting a huaso's horse "Pirque," in a wheat field in Chile. Senora Maria holds an armful of wheat and the huaso or cowboy on the horse wears a broad brimmed hat and striped serape. 1940. Toni Frissell. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Huasos are Chilean cowboys known for their skilled horse riding. "Huaso" comes from a Quechua word meaning "back of an animal" or "rustic and rough." This photograph was taken by Toni Frissell while she was on assignment for Vogue magazine and was part of a story titled "They Live on a Farm in Chile," Vogue (April 15, 1940): 56, 57.
 a linocut print of a face with large sad and watchful, the mouth is gagged with a cloth tied around his head.
Protest fascist Chilean junta. 1975. Designed by Rachael Romero, Rachael. [San Francisco]: Wilfred Owen Brigade. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

On September 11, 1973, the government of President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a coup d’etat led by Chilean Army Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet. He ruled the country for 16 ½ years. During that time, the government committed thousands of human rights violations and atrocities, including torture, disappearances, and assassinations. In 1988 a nationwide plebiscite was held in Chile to decide if Augusto Pinochet should stay in office for another eight years. The “No” vote won. A democratically elected president, Patricio Aylwin, took office in 1990.

Law, Legal Materials

The Law Library 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, just to provide a few examples on the scope of these collections.

Access to legal items is provided in the Law Library Reading Room.

Theodore Roosevelt Papers: Series 16: Additions, 1760-1993. "The Democratic Movement in a Republic," Santiago, Chile, undated. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Manuscripts, Archival Materials

The Library has papers and archival materials related to Chile. Among the items in the Manuscript Division related to Chile are logbooks from early transoceanic voyages. Before the construction of the Panama Canal, voyages between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans had to make the treacherous journey around Cape Horn or through the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of Chile. During the 19th century, this was the route taken by the speedy clipper ships that transported much of the world's cargo from port to port. Logbooks and travellers' and captains' journals collected by the Library document these trips, providing glimpses of seafaring life as well as observations of marine and animal life, geography, and local customs.

The Library also has the papers of diplomats stationed in Chile and politicians who visited the country, as well as copies of manuscripts from libraries and archives around the world.

Most manuscript materials are housed in the Manuscript Division, but other divisions of the Library also have manuscript collections. Some manuscript collections have been digitized. A larger number are described by online finding aids or by records in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Typus geographicus, Chili, Paraguay Freti Magellanici &c. 1733. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Cartographic Materials

The cartographic collection in the Geography and Map Division is the largest in the world and contains maps, atlases, digital data, and special collections. There are thousands of maps of Latin America in the collection. Some of these maps are described in The Luso-Hispanic World in Maps, an online guide to select manuscript maps (before 1900) in the Library of Congress. The maps document the expansion of the Spanish and Portuguese empires overseas.The Library also has many unique items, such as pilot's charts and globes, as well as contemporary cartographic materials from the 20th-21st centuries.

Ramón Carnicer, composer. Cancion Nacional de Chile. Library of Congress Music Division.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Reading Room is the patron space for the Music Division. The Music Division traces its origins to the thirteen books on music literature and theory in Thomas Jefferson's library. Today the division's collections number close to 8 million items, including sheet music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.

Pro Tip: To listen to recordings or interact with audio materials in the Library's collections, visit the Recorded Sound Research Center, part of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

  • "The Chilean National Anthem"
    Read Pat Padua's blog post celebrating the fantastic rescue of thirty-three Chilean miners (In the Muse: Performing Arts Blog, October 18, 2010).

The books listed below are only a sampling of the many items related to Chile in the Music Division's collections.

  • To find more materials, search the LC Online Catalog using Advanced Search and Add Limits. Search for "Chile" and limit the location to Performing Arts.


The Library's collections include current and historical newspapers in microform, print, and digital formats. Most newspapers are available in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room. You can also read about historical events in Chile as reported in the US by searching in our historic newspaper collections.

Chronicling America is a searchable database of digitized US newspapers (1789-1963). You can find information reported on in American newspapers for events in Chile.

In addition, some current newspapers from Chile are available online:

Nova et exacta delineatio Americae partis avstralis. qve est : Brasilia, Caribana, Gviana regnũm noũũm, Castilia del Oro, Nicaragva, insũlae Antillas et Perv. Et sub Tropico Capricorni, Chile, Rio della Plata, Patagonṽ, & Fretṽ Magellanicv̄. Noribergae : per Leũinũm Hũlsiũm, a. 1602. Krause Collection of Sir Francis Drake. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections.

Rare Books, Special Collections

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division traces its beginnings to Thomas Jefferson's wish to create a library for statesmen and for the people of the new nation covering the broad spectrum of human knowledge and interests. Today the division's collections amount to nearly 800,000 books, broadsides, pamphlets, theater playbills, title pages, prints, posters, photographs, and manuscripts.

Materials related to Chile in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division are numerous and varied. Among the items in the division's collections are a map (shown at right) of one of Francis Drake's voyages, a guide for immigrants to Chile from the US and Europe, and a 1938 Chilean cookbook.

The titles below link to bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links for additional online content are provided when available.