The following article appeared in Outline, the Bodleian Libraries Staff Newsletter, Number 451, 17 June 2010
A valuable collection of 19th-century Colombian newspapers has been donated to the Bodleian Library by Dr Alvaro Holguín, grandson of Carlos Holguín, President of Colombia 1888-1892.
The newspapers formed part of the president’s private collection and are described by Malcolm Deas, Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s, as ‘among the best of their time’. Of Carlos Holguín, Mr Deas writes:
‘He was one of the leading figures of the Conservative Party, and one of the principal architects of its return to power after a quarter century of opposition in 1886. Like many Colombian politicians, he was also an editor and journalist, and in that role he came to be a constant critic of any recourse to civil war. He was also a diplomat and first Colombian Minister in Spain when relations were finally re-established 60 years after Independence in the 1880s.’
Collections of Colombian newspapers from this period come onto the market infrequently and are rarely found in European libraries. Newspapers were central to the political and cultural life of the time, because Colombia was not yet able to sustain a major book publishing industry.
Dr Eduardo Posada Carbo, Departmental Lecturer in Politics at the Latin American Centre, explains that, ‘newspapers were often the most important outlets for authors – certainly for those writing about politics. Indeed, some important 19th-century books were published first as series of newspaper articles, which were then later collected in book form.’
The Holguín family moved to Paris in the early 20th century, where the donor of the collection still lives.
Frank Egerton, Latin American Centre Library