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Latin America - Research Guide



This guide highlights the resources, both print and electronic, of the University of Pennsylvania libraries, but specifically those held in the Van Pelt Library. Thus, there is no section devoted to Anthropology and Archaeology, areas in which Penn has long had strong Latin American programs, but which are served by the University Museum Library. The focus on history, literature, and political science reflects the research emphasis of most Penn library users. Moreover, this guide does not seek to be comprehensive. The titles listed are among the most prominent, but give only an indication of the depth of the library's holdings, as well as of the vast resources of the internet.





I. General Sources



  • Latin American Information Network (LANIC) connects to hundreds of sites, including those maintained by governments, political parties, academic institutions, newspapers and other periodical publications.


    1. Current

    The Association of Research Libraries Latin Americanist Research Resources Pilot Project: Periodicals. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1935- . Annual.
    This database provides title keyword searching of articles contained in over 400 periodicals published in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. These publications are not indexed anywhere else and, since they are not widely held, the articles can be requested directly from the owning institution through the web site. Requested articles will be delivered to the requestor's Interlibrary Loan Department and only individuals affiliated with a participating institution, such as Penn, may obtain articles. The periodicals cover all fields. The date ranges vary, but none predate 1990.

    Bibliography of Latin American and Caribbean Bibliographies. Madison, Wisc.: Univ. of Wisconsin, 1984- .
    Prepared by the Secretariat of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), it serves as a supplement to Gropp (see below).
    [VP Ref Z 1601 A2 G762]

    Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) An exceptional serial bibliography based at the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress that provides selective, annotated information about books and journal articles. An attractive feature of the print version is the presentation by noted scholars of bibliographic overviews for each field and many subfields. Since 1964 the volumes alternate coverage every year between social sciences and humanities. The online version is complete since 1935.
    [Van Pelt F 1401 H363; latest five years in Reference]

    Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) Published by the UCLA Latin American Center with articles from over four hundred journals published worldwide dating back to 1970, HAPI is one of the most important sources for articles from and about Latin America. There are some fulltext links. Covers publishing in six modern western languages, but the majority are in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

    2. Retrospective

    Comitas, Lambros. The Complete Caribbeana, 1900-1975: A Bibliographic Guide to the Scholarly Literature. 4 volumes. Millwood, NY: KTO Press, 1977.
    [VP Ref F 2161 C64]

    Gropp, Arthur. A Bibliography of Latin American Bibliographies. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1968. 515 p.
    This is a revision and update of a 1942 work by C.K. Jones. It has itself been updated through supplements (see under call number VP Ref Z 1601 A2 G76 1968 Suppl) and the Bibliography of Latin American and Caribbean Bibliographies described above.
    [VP Ref Z 1601 A2 G76 1968]

    Index to Latin American Periodical Literature, 1929-1966. Supplement (1967-70). Boston: G.K. Hall, 1962.
    Produced by the Columbus Memorial Library of the Pan American Union.
    [VP Ref Z 1601 P16]

    World Bibliographical Series. Clio Press.
    This is a series of bibliographies for individual countries, which can be found in Franklin with the title search "t=world bibliographical series." There is one for nearly every country. To find similar bibliographies in Franklin, use a subject search such as "s=Argentina--Bibliography."


    There is no satisfactory atlas for all of Latin America, but there are a number of excellent national and thematic atlases.

    Atlas of Mexico
    [VP Ref G 1545 P5 1989].

    Brawer, Moshe. Atlas of South America New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
    A serviceable atlas marred by some inaccuracies in both maps and text. It covers South America only.
    [VP Ref G 1700 B7 1991]

    Early, Edwin. The History Atlas of South America. New York: Macmillan, 1998.
    [VP Ref G 1701 S1 E4 1998]

    Wilgus, Alva Curtis. Historical Atlas of Latin America. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1969.
    [VP Ref F 1408 W66 1969]

    The Internet. Many web sites, particularly those that are intended to serve as national gateways, provide maps, usually without great detail.

    The Perry-Castañeda Library at the University of Texas has made available national maps for all parts of the world.


    Mundo Lo, Sara de. Index to Spanish American Collective Biography. 4 vols. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981.
    A bibliography of biographical works.
    [VP Ref CT 503 M85]


    Area Handbook Series. Washington, DC: American University.
    This series of country studies, originally titled according to the pattern Area Handbook for..., can now be found under the name of the country followed by A Country Study. In Franklin do a title search for "t=area handbook series," or, for older editions, "t=area handbook for." The most recent editions are in the Van Pelt Reference collection. Each work, by a multidisciplinary team of social scientists, analyzes the economic, security, political, and social systems and institutions of a particular country. The series was initiated at the request of the U.S. Dept. of the Army.

    Covington, Paula, David Block, et al., eds. Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources. New York: Greenwood, 1992.
    The most extensive research guide for Latin America and the Caribbean. Each section offers an introductory critical essay, an extensive bibliography divided by country and, in most cases, a resources guide that lists significant collections in the field.
    [VP Ref F 1408 L379 1992]

    Grieb, Kenneth J., et al., eds. Research Guide to Central America and the Caribbean. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
    [VP Ref F 2161 R48 1985]

    Grow, Michael, ed. Scholars' Guide to Washington, D.C. for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 2nd ed., Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1992.
    [VP Ref F 1408 G767]

    Hinds, Harold E., Jr., and Charles M. Tatum. Handbook of Latin American Popular Culture. Westport, Ct. : Greenwood, 1985. 259 p.
    [Van Pelt F 1408.3 H316 1985]

    James, Preston E., and C.W. Minkel, Latin America, 5th ed. New York: Wiley 1986.
    The standard (for over fifty years) guide to the physical and human geography of Latin America.
    [VP Ref F 1408 J28 1986]

    McNeil, Robert A., and Barbara G. Valk, eds. Latin American Studies: A Basic Guide to Sources. 2nd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1990.
    Similar to the Covington work, this provides information on library and archival collections in Britain, Europe, and the United States, as well as descriptions of bibliographies and non-print and specialized sources.
    [VP Ref F 1408 L38 1990]

    South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. London: Europa, 1986- . Biennial.
    A regional volume of the Europa series, it includes summary articles on the history, politics and economy of individual countries, plus statistical data, but its outstanding feature is extensive directory information on the governmental, political, business, labor, and religious institutions of each country .
    [VP F 1406.5 S687 -- latest issue at Reference Desk]

    The South American Handbook. Bath, Eng. : Trade & Travel Publications ltd. ; Chicago :
    Distributed in the United States of America by Rand McNally, 1924-. Annual.
    Intended as a travel guide, with extensive listings of restaurants, lodgings, and historic sites, it also provides considerable background information about each country and its cities and regions. Until 1990 it covered all of the hemisphere below the Rio Grande, but has since been restricted to South America proper.
    [Van Pelt F 1401 S71: latest in Reference] There are now two other guides:
    Caribbean Islands Handbook
    [Van Pelt F 1609 C375: latest in Reference] and

    Mexico & Central American Handbook
    [Van Pelt F 1216.5 M495: latest in Reference]

    Ulibarri, George S., and John P. Harrison. Guide to Materials on Latin America in the National Archives of the United States. Washington: National Archives and Record Service, 1974.
    [VP Ref CD 3028 L37 U54 1974]

    The World Factbook. Washington, D.C. : Central Intelligence Agency, 1981- .
    Basic and current information about every country in the world.
    [Van Pelt G 122 U56a; latest at Reference Desk; Lippincott G 122 U56a; ;latest in Reference;
    current Internet version at [URL:]


    Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
    Visually attractive volume arranged by subject areas, each of which provides an excellent introduction. The work aims to cover as many topics as possible. There are bibliographies of works in English, plus useful maps and tables. There is an earlier edition in the Van Pelt stacks.
    [VP Ref F 1406 C36 1992]

    Delpar, Helen, ed. Encyclopedia of Latin America. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.
    Alphabetical arrangement with numerous biographical entries.
    [VP Ref F 1406 E52]

    The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed. Chicago : Encyclopaedia Britannica, c1995. 32 v.
    [VP Ref AE5 E363 1995];
    graphical web version via the Library homepage at [URL:]

    Nuñez, Benjamin. Dictionary of Afro-Latin American Civilization. Westport, Ct. : Greenwood, 1980. 525 p.
    [VP Ref F 1408.3 N86]

    Tenenbaum, A., ed. Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. 5 vols. New York : Scribner's; Macmillan Library Reference USA, 1996.
    The most ambitious work of its kind. Arranged alphabetically.
    [VP Ref F 1406 E53 1996]


    Amérique Latine: Guide des Organisations Internationales et de leurs publications. Paris: L'Harmattan; Publications de la Sorbonne, 1983.
    [VP Ref F 1406.5 R6 1983]

    Bray, David B., and Richard E. Greenleaf. A Directory of Latin American Studies in the United States. New Orleans: Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University, 1986. 243 p.
    [VP Ref F 1409.95 U6 B73 1986]

    Cantrell, Karen, and Denise Wallen. Funding for Research, Study, and Travel : Latin America and the Caribbean. Phoenix : Oryx Press, 1987. 301 p.
    [VP F 1409.95 U6 C36 1987]

    Deutschsprachige Lateinamerika Forschung: Institutionen, Wissenschaftler und Experten in Deutschland, Vsterreich und der Schweiz Neuere Vervffentlichungen. Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 1993.
    [VP Ref F 1406.5 D48 1993]

    Fenton, Thomas P., and Mary J. Heffron. Latin America and Caribbean : a Directory of Resources.Maryknoll, N.Y. : Orbis Books ; London : Zed Books, c1986. 142 p.
    A directory of organizations and research centers, and a bibliography that includes pamphlets, a/v materials and curriculum guides about current events.
    [VP Ref F 1408 F42 1986]

    Kregar, Shirley A., and Annabelle Conroy. After Latin American Studies : a Guide to Graduate Study and Employment for Latin Americanists. Rev. ed. Pittsburgh: Center for Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh. 141 p.
    [VP Ref F 1409.95 U6 K74 1995]

    Nauman, Ann K. A Handbook of Latin American and Caribbean National Archives/Guma de los archivos nacionales de Amirica Latina y el Caribe. Detroit: Blaine Ethridge, 1983.
    Identical English and Spanish sections listing hours, personnel, services, etc., of each archive.
    [VP Ref CD 3680 N38 1983]


    Anuario estadístico de América Latina y el Caribe = Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean. Santiago, Chile: Comisisn Econsmica para Amirica Latina y el Caribe; New York; Publicaciones de las Naciones Unidas, Seccisn de Ventas, 1986- .
    Published since 1964 under slightly different titles.
    [Van Pelt HA 755 A68: latest in Reference; Lippincott Ref HA 755 A68]

    Donschke, Elaine, and Doreen S. Goyer. The Handbook of National Population Censuses: Latin American and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1983.
    Information is provided about each census and list main U.S. repositories.
    [VP Ref HA 36 G67 1983]

    International Historical Statistics: The Americas and Australasia. Detroit: Gale, 1983.
    [VP Ref HA 175 M55 1983]

    Statistical Abstract of Latin America. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, 1955- .
    Provides a "one-volume selection of important statistics...To offer the latest figures available on a timely basis for the 20 countries of Latin America."
    [Van Pelt HA 935 S8: latest in Reference]

    Travis, Carole, ed. A Guide to Latin American and Caribbean Census Material. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990. 739 p.
    [VP Ref HA 755 G85 1990]

    The Internet. The web is a particularly good source for statistics. The major Latin American web site link is "UT-LANIC" [URL:], but Cornell University Library has an excellent statistical site for Latin America [URL:]

    Additional Sources. Most countries publish annual statistical abstracts. The most recent editions of these are held in the "HA" call number range of Van Pelt Reference, while earlier editions can be found under the same numbers in the main stacks. For the specific call number FCAT can be searched using a subject search in the form "mexico--statistics--periodicals."

    II. History


    Use [URL:], the University of Texas site,to find a number of useful sources that include book reviews, archival information, texts of historic documents, etc. More history sites can be accessed through LANIC's country links [URL:]


    1. Current

    Historical Abstracts. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 1955- .
    The best known index for history, this covers the world since 1492 excepting the United States and Canada. It covers Latin America fairly well, but should be used in conjunction with the The Hispanic American Periodicals Index and The Handbook of Latin American Studies (see above, page 1).
    [VP D 299 H5; compact disc at Workstation #2 in Moelis]

    2. Retrospective

    Cortés Conde, Roberto, and Stanley J. Stein, eds. Latin America: A Guide to Economic History, 1830-1930. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
    Bibliography of works published 1830-1975, including census materials and dissertations. Covers Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.
    [VP Ref HC 125 L34]

    Grieb, Kenneth J. Central America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1988.
    This annotated bibliography is arranged by country and includes books and government documents, but not journal articles.
    [VP Ref F 1428 G74 1998]

    Griffin, Charles Carroll. Latin America: A Guide to the Historical Literature. Austin: Published for the Conference on Latin American History by the University of Texas Press, 1971. 700 p.
    Despite its age, this remains one of the most useful critical surveys of the literature.
    [Van Pelt Z 1601 G75]


    Henderson, James D. A Reference Guide to Latin American History. Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, c2000.
    Includes national and regional chronologies of events up to 1999, thematic chronologies, and a section of 300 biographies of major figures.
    [VP Ref F1410 .H46 2000]
    Latin American Historical Dictionaries. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1970- .
    A series of dictionaries that can be found browsing in the Van Pelt Reference "F" range or by the subject search " [Country]--Dictionaries and encyclopedias" or "[Country]--History-- Dictionaries."
    [VP Ref F 1542 C7 1991]

    Levine, Robert M. Race and Ethnic Relations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1980.
    An historical dictionary with a 92 page bibliography.
    [VP F 1419 A1 L481]

    Olson, James S., editor-in-chief. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire, 1402-1975. New York: Greenwood Press, c1992. 705 p.
    [Van Pelt Reference DP56 .H57 1992]

    Thomas, Jack Ray. Biographical Dictionary of Latin American Historians and Historiography. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1984.
    [VP Ref F 1409.8 A2 T48 1984]


    Bethell, Leslie, ed. Cambridge History of Latin America. 11 vols. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984- .
    Like all in the Cambridge series, this is a superb multi-volume history. Aiming to cover as many historical themes as possible, each volume contains a large number of essays, each written by an international expert and appended to each a detailed annotated bibliography that summarizes the state of the art of historiography.
    [VP F 1410 C1834 1984]


    Werlich, David P. Research Tools for Latin American Historians: A Select, Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1980.
    [VP Ref F 1408 W437]

    Wilgus, A. Curtis. The Historiography of Latin America : a Guide to Historical Writing, 1500 to 1800. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1975. 333 p.
    [Van Pelt F 1409.7 W54]

    III. Literature


    There have come to be some notable web sites for Latin American literature, which had lagged compared to some other literatures. Many of these offer full-text of prose and poetry, plus there are interviews and other materials not available elsewhere. Check, as always, the University of Texas's LANIC [URL:] to see what is available.


    1. Current

    MLA international bibliography. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1956- .
    No matter its name (there have been slight name changes over the years) or format, the MLA is the essential index for the world's languages and literatures, as well as folklore, and includes articles, books and dissertations published in most of the major languages. Coverage in the online version, which is updated ten times a year, begins with 1963.
    [VP Ref PB 1 M443] [URL:]

    2. Retrospective

    Foster, David William. Various titles.
    Foster, alone or in conjuction with other scholars, has compiled and edited an extraordinary number of reference works on Latin American literature, including a large number of retrospective bibliographies. These include Argentine Literature : a Research Guide, 2nd ed., New York : Garland, 1982 [VP Ref PQ 7611 F68 1982]; Brazilian Literature : a Research Bibliography, New York : Garland, 1990 [VP Ref PQ 9511 F67 1990]; and others on Chilean, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Peruvian literature.

    Freudenthal, Juan R., and Patricia M. Freudenthal Index to Anthologies of Latin American Literature in English Translation. Boston : G. K. Hall, 1976.
    [VP Ref PQ 7087 E5 F74]

    Marting, Diane E. Women Writers of Spanish America : an Annotated Bio-bibliographical Guide. New York : Greenwood, 1987.
    The annotations are selective, the coverage extensivel.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081 W68 1987]

    Zubatsky, David S. Latin American Literary Authors : an Annotated Guide to Bibliographies. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1986.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081 Z82 1986]


    Cortés, Eladio. Dictionary of Mexican literature. Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 1992. 768 p.
    Primarily biographies, this alphabetical listing also includes bibliographies for each item.
    [VP Ref PQ 7106 D53 1992]

    Stern, Irwin, ed. Dictionary of Brazilian literature. New York : Greenwood, 1988.
    Alphabetical arrangement of entries for authors, historical movements, genres, etc., each with a brief bibliography appended.
    [VP Ref PQ 9506 D53 1988]


    Diccionario de escritores mexicanos, siglo XX : desde las generaciones del Ateneo y novelistas de la Revolución hasta nuestros días. Mexico : Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico : Instituto de Investigaciones Filologicas, Centro de Estudios ...1988.
    [VP Ref PQ 7106 D5 1988]

    Flores, Angel. Spanish American Authors : the Twentieth Century. Bronx, NY : H.W. Wilson, 1992.
    Critical appreciations and, in some cases, autobiographical statements, of more than 300 writers, plus individual bibliographies of published works and selected criticism.
    [Van Pelt and VP Ref PQ 7081.3 F57 1992]

    Foster, David William, comp. Handbook of Latin American Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Garland, 1992.
    This 799 page work includes both essays and bibliographies.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081 A1 H36 1992]

    Foster, David William, ed. Latin American writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes : a Bio-critical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood, 1994.
    Alphabetical author entries, each followed by a bibliography.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081.3 F62 1994]

    Marting, Diane E. Spanish American Women Writers : a Bio-bibliographical Source Book. New York : Greenwood, 1990.
    Substantial critical summaries of 50 writers, each followed by a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081 S75 1990]

    Sole, Carlos A., ed. Latin American writers. 3 vols. New York : Scribner, 1989.
    A massive work offering critical essays on the most prominent Latin American writers followed by a selective bibliography.
    [VP Ref PQ 7081 A1 L37 1989]

    IV. Political Science


    There are a number of useful general sites for politics and government. Excellent politics and government-oriented Latin American sites include Political Database of the Americas - Georgetown University Center for Latin American Studies. The database provides documentary and statistical political information on Latin America, including country studies, constitutions, electoral laws, legislative and executive branch. Another is Cornell's Latin American Government Documents Project.


    PAIS International Covering governmental affairs and foreign relations of all countries, PAIS includes books, journal articles, and government documents in seven western European languages.
    Worldwide Political Science Abstracts 67% of the more than 1500 monitored journals in WPSA are published outside the United States. Some of the records have fulltext links.


    Alexander, Robert J., ed. Biographical Dictionary of Latin American and Caribbean Political Leaders. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1988.
    [VP Ref F 1414.2 B48 1988]

    Gunson, Phil, Andrew Thompson, and Greg Chamberlain. The Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of South America. New York: Macmillan, 1989.
    [VP Ref JL 1851 A25 G86 1989]

    _____. The Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of Central America and the Caribbean. London : Routledge, 1991. 397 p.
    [VP Ref F 2183 G86 1991]

    Maolain, Ciaran O., ed. Latin American Political Movements. Harlow: Longman, 1985. 287 p.
    [Van Pelt JL 969 A45 L38 1985]

    Rossi, Ernest, and Jack C. Plano. Latin American Political Dictionary. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 1980.
    [VP Ref F 1406 R67 1980]


    Daily Report. Latin America. Apr. 1, 1974-1996. Washington, D.C.? : Foreign Broadcast Information Service; Springfield, Va. : Available for distribution from NTIS.
    FBIS, a division of the Central Intelligence Agency, selects, translates and prints reports from foreign news media, print as well as broadcast. There is a CD-ROM index to FBIS reports from all parts of the world [VP Moelis Ref D 839 I444] as well as a print index for Latin America [Van Pelt F 1401 D332] that covers 1978 to 1991. From 1968 to 1974 the title was Daily Report. Latin America & Western Europe [Storage F 1401 D326]. [Van Pelt Microfiche US Doc PrEx7.10: FBIS-LAT] The Daily Report has been continued by World News Connection(FBIS) which provides full-text online searching and the full-text documents themselves for the most recent years. The intention is to make it a two-year rotating database, with earlier years archived on compact disc.

    Latin America and Caribbean Contemporary Record. 1981- .
    A summary of the year's news. Extensive coverage; facilitates access to major documents of the year, including speeches and reports often difficult to locate. However, there is a considerable time lag.
    [VP F 1401 L3253]

    Last update: Thursday, June 30, 2003
    Send mail concerning this page to Joe Holub, the Iberoamerican Bibliographer::