A Reading Rainbow: Library of Congress’ Hispanic Reading Room

In 1927, Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America
established an endowment fund in his name, the first of several important
donations for Hispanic studies at the Library of Congress. The second “area
studies division” to be founded by the Library, in 1939 the Hispanic Division
was established to acquire Luso-Hispanic materials in a systematic fashion. In
that same year, the division’s reading room, The “Hispanic Society Reading
Room,” named after the New York Hispanic Society of America, was inaugurated to
service the Library’s growing Luso-Hispanic collections.

Although primary emphasis has always been the acquisition of current materials and government documents the Hispanic Division has also acquired a rich collection
of rare items. The Division was instrumental in acquiring significant gifts of
manuscripts, music scores, and posters, photographs and films. It made efforts
to develop special groups of materials such as collecting folk music from San
Antonio, Texas, and pioneering the recording of Hispanic poets.

Through the generosity of countless donors, the Library of Congress has amassed the world’s finest collection on the history and culture of Latin America, Iberia,
and the Caribbean.


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