Cataloging New Receipts to the Rubén Blades Archives

Project Summary

Submitted by Sarah Adams of Loeb Music Library.

In 2009 the Loeb Music Library signed an agreement with internationally prominent singer/songwriter, actor, activist, and Harvard Law School graduate Rubén Blades to receive and archive his personal papers as well as recordings, interviews, films, and other materials from his musical, acting, and political careers. A superstar in the Latin jazz and popular music worlds, Blades is also well-known for his political activism in his native Panama which culminated in a run for president in 1994 and a term as Minister of Tourism from 2004-2009. Initial receipts to the collection, comprised of materials gathered from Blades’ friends in the music industry and/or purchased at auction by associate Alison Weinstock, are processed and inventoried in a finding aid:

We recently received the first installment of personal materials directly from Blades. Of particular interest are papers regarding his formation of a political party el Movimento Papa Egoro and his presidential campaign. Papers from his musical career include compositional materials, notes and mockups for albums, and records from tours.

We would like to make these materials available to scholars as soon as possible as there has already been a great deal of interest in this collection among scholars of Latin music and popular culture. Papers from Blades' political career will add a new perspective and area of inquiry. This proposal requests a temporary staff member to process newly received items and add them to the finding aid. Because the materials have just arrived only a preliminary review has been possible; we estimate it will require six months of staff time.

Amount requested is $18,000.

Expected Results with Partial Funding

Any amount of support to devote to this work will advance the project.

Estimated Follow-on Activities and/or Costs

We expect to receive additional materials from Blades in the future. If materials are received in small increments processing can be incorporated into existing staff workflows. Any re-formatting requests for print and/or media materials will be absorbed into our ongoing work with Imaging Services and Media Preservation Services.

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

Materials from this collection will be of interest for scholars from a broad range of disciplines including music, theater, Latin American studies, popular culture, government, politics.

Ways the Project Supports Cross-Unit or Cross-Discipline Activities

Blades’ multiple creative and political careers are distinct yet intertwined, promoting interdisciplinary study. In the musical world he is known as the ultimate crossover artist, while his work as an activist crosses cultures and geopolitical borders. His music is infused with his commitment to social justice and civil rights, inviting the study of the relationship of music to the wider world.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

Student assistants in the library can assist in creating a preliminary inventory. We will assess the collection for housing needs and order materials accordingly.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

Although students can assist with some tasks, professional staff are needed to complete the processing. We would need to seek alternate sources of support or wait until a date when we have adequate staff time to complete this work.

Risks if Proposal is Not Approved

New materials in the collection will remain inaccessible to patrons until a time at which sufficient resources are located to devote to the work.

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