Despite their great research value, serials and ephemera are often neglected in archives, exist only in partial runs, or are lost entirely due to the fragility of the paper on which they were printed. These challenges apply to the José E. Durand Peruvian History Collection, which includes partial runs of approximately 200 rare serials and more than 100 examples of rare ephemera and song and verse, dating from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. We estimate that fewer than 15% of all the serial and ephemera titles in the José E. Durand Peruvian History Collection are available via HathiTrust or other repositories, and none of the runs of titles or ephemeral imprints identified for this project have been found in digitized format. Moreover, an assessment of the José E. Durand Peruvian History Collection’s nineteenth-century contents conducted by the Libraries’ digitization specialists in winter 2017 indicated that approximately 40% of the collection would benefit from some form of treatment (stabilizing board attachments, consolidating textblocks, mending tears, humidifying and flattening, dry cleaning, deacidification, paper mends, or preservation housings), attesting to the fragility of these rare materials. Digitization will virtually preserve these materials and make them widely available for consultation and research.
In terms of content, the materials included in this project are part of the proliferation of newspapers, circulars, and song and verse imprints that occurred in nineteenth-century Peru. They attest to interesting and important historical phenomena such as the rise of new technologies and the broadening appeal and accessibility of print communication. They also express diverse points of view and, in their time, reached more people than print ever had before. The materials come from Lima, Cuzco, Arequipa, and Ayacucho and offer intimate and unique perspectives on Peruvian political events from the country’s birth up to the 1850s. The political periodicals and circulars included in this corpus reflect how wars for independence from European overlords defined the history of the 1820s. They provide liberal and conservative views of key events in early Peruvian national history, including the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. The song and verse imprints include patriotic as well as satirical selections and reflect the intersection between cultural practices and politics during the first half of the century.
As a whole, these materials and the changes wrought by the nineteenth-century print revolution are of interest to historians, literature scholars, social scientists, and perhaps even those who study public health and urban development. The materials identified for this project do much highlight the impact of print on society in Peru, where such changes have been less studied than in Europe or North America. The José E. Durand Peruvian History collection also includes cognate materials from the second half of the nineteenth century that we hope to digitize in the future, to complement and enrich this first corpus of materials.
A final important observation regarding this project is that approximately half of the material proposed for this first stage of digitization is contained in three large, bound compilations of periodical issues, circulars, and popular song and verse. These three unique volumes are organized chronologically and, as such, are particularly valuable resources for the study of the independence era and the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. They provide researchers with a pre-made collection of primary sources relevant to those topics that is unavailable in any other repository. The contents of each of these three volumes are detailed in the spreadsheet provided with this application. However, the digital product created through this project will retain the original order of the volumes and thus the research value of these artifacts.