Resources

Rare Dominican Stamp Collection donated to the CUNY DSI Library

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DSA member Ethan Srebnick with the stamp collection he donated to the CUNY DSI Library.

On March 2022, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library received a unique stamp collection from Ethan Srebnick, a City College student and the Public Relations & Marketing Chair of the Dominican Students Association (DSA) on campus. Ethan participated in an educational workshop conducted by CUNY DSI’ Chief Librarian Prof. Sarah Aponte, and Librarian Jhensen Ortiz for the Dominican Students Association. He presented the rich stamp collection after the seminar concluded.

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Prof. Sarah Aponte viewing the stamp collection along with Ethan and other DSA members.

Ethan’s father shared a Fort Independence Neighborhood Association listing placed by an old couple giving away a stamp collection that had postages from around the world. Ethan was compelled to take this collection because a while ago, his great grandmother had shared with him her collection of stamps. Ethan generously donated the section with the stamps from the Dominican Republic to the Dominican Library helping us to continue our vital work to preserve and educate visitors on Dominican history and culture.

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The New Word Wide Postage Stamp Album originally published by Minkus Publications in 1953.

About the Dominican Stamp Collection

The impressive stamp collection is representative of the Trujillo Dictatorship (1930-1961) in the Dominican Republic, including symbols and images of Dominican cultural history such as flags, famous monuments, coats of arms, key national figures, natural landmarks, and government institutions, to name a few. The collection is characterized by significant elements of Dominican state iconography and Trujillo’s cult personality that demonstrates the propaganda value of postage stamps. In addition, these stamps can serve as an excellent primary source for the symbolic messages that overtly or subtly promote nationalism that governments seek to convey to their citizens and the world.

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A handful of the postage stamps donated from the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo Dictatorship. (Double click on the image to get a closer look)

The CUNY DSI Library is very fortunate to have our first stamp collection from the Dominican Republic highlighting the historical and cultural value of the Dominican Republic during the oppressive Trujillo regime. Thanks again to Ethan Srebnick for donating this series of stamps to us. We look forward to sharing them with our patrons.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian


Author Spotlight: Teaching Resources for K-12 of Roberto Carlos García's [Elegies]

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Donated poetry collections by Roberto Carlos García: Melancolía, black / Maybe: An Afro Lyric, and [Elegies] are available at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library.

Dominican poet, storyteller, and essayist Roberto Carlos García shared a set of lesson plans based on his third poetry collection [Elegies] through the Dominican Writers Association. The detailed curriculum prepared by the Grow Society includes essential questions, assessments of student learning, a section for materials, Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Learning Standards, to name a few of the critical components these lesson plans offer.

The lesson plans are arranged as followed:

  • Lesson 1, pages 1-2,  Students are introduced to [Elegies]
  • Lesson 2, pages 3-4, Students draft their own elegy
  • Lesson 3, pages 5-7, Students share each other’s elegies

They provide a general outline useful for teachers since it helps to see how the lesson might fit in a teaching period.

 Lesson one, for example,

Opener à Mini-Lesson à Learning Activity à Closer.

Opener: word association activity w/ share-out

Mini-Lesson: Teacher introduces elegy poems (frame/define)

Learning Activity: Students read and annotate Garcia elegies

Closer:  Reflection question, (“What does the poem that you read today remind or make you think of?”)

These lesson plans could be used by anyone, including teachers, homeschooling parents/teachers, and librarians. 

You can download the lesson plans below. Download [Elegies] & black_Maybe Lesson Plan for K-12

Roberto Carlos García is available for class visits and you may reach him here.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

*Special thanks to Jayson Castillo, a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center and Research Associate at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute for his insights and feedback on the lesson plans.


Artist Yelaine Rodriguez donates personal archive to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library

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Yelaine Rodriguez at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives and Library, November 23, 2021

Yelaine Rodriguez, the Bronx-based Dominican interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator best known for her bold wearable art and site-specific installations on Afro-syncretic traditions, has donated a part of her personal archive to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library. The Yelaine Rodriguez archive, which currently consists of ephemera, will grow over time to include additional research papers, lectures, correspondence, sketches, photographs, and videos.

In the email interview that follows, Yelaine Rodriguez discusses what informs and influences her work through the course of her journey up until now.

1. What path did you take to become an artist and curator? 

Y: I like to think that I was always an artist, curating came second. I grew up within a family of artists. As the youngest in my family, I observed everything. With a mother as a hairdresser, a grandmother that constantly crocheted, an older brother into comic books, and with an older sister in the illustration department at Parsons, creativity always surrounded me. My older sister struggled after graduating from Parsons because she did not have elders as an example in the field to guide her. As a result, my mother was very skeptical about her children taking on a career in the arts. Therefore, I decided on a BFA in fashion design. My thought process was that a degree in fashion design would provide financial stability while in a creative field. Ironically the fashion industry was one of the first industries negatively impacted by the pandemic.  

For a while, being in the fashion industry allowed me to fund my art and other creative interest, but it wasn’t my main focus. When I graduated from Parsons, I went to Altos de Chavon in La Romana, the Dominican Republic as a Teacher Assistant and Resident Assistant in 2013. During that time, the Dominican Republic was in the middle of a human rights violation case with neighboring country Haiti. The Dominican government implemented a new law rendering Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless. At the time, I didn’t consider myself very political. I would attend protests and community meetings to lend my support, but I wanted to do something that felt more natural to me. That was when my journey as a curator came to fruition. I saw curating as a classroom, as an opportunity for gathering and sharing ideas, and since then, I have tried to maintain that same sentiment in every exhibit I do. 

2. La Lucha exhibition series was groundbreaking, provocative, and enlightening for people of Dominican and Haitian descent seeking to educate themselves and find creative spaces to have a conversation about the Dominican and Haitian communities' shared history. Can you talk about its origins and trajectory?

Y: La Lucha came about during a time of political unrest in the Dominican Republic. In 2013 while on the island working as a teaching assistant and resident assistant, I found myself in an ironic situation. I was in a bubble of like-minded creative people talking about the political issues in a safe place while our community was out in the street fighting against the injustice implemented by the Dominican government. I wanted to do something about it, but I wasn’t sure what would be the best use of my time. While hearing some Dominican nationalists use language as an excuse to other their brothers and sisters from Haiti made me think of using art as a communication tool. I had no idea how to put together an exhibition or where to begin, so I approached galleries in the Dominican Republic. Of course, they all turned me down, saying that the topic was too political, thus forcing me to take my exhibition idea to New York. In New York, I soon realized that even in this so-called melting pot, we are divided. Through word-of-mouth recommendations, I commenced meeting artists all over the city of Dominican and Haitian descent. The first exhibition, which took place on a cold February evening in 2015, brought in a significantly large crowd. Every 30-mins, I had to send people out of the exhibition space to bring a new crowd in. That night even a group of Dominican nationalists came to protest. I didn’t realize how many emotions this exhibit would trigger. Good or bad, it sparked a conversation making it a success in my eyes. All I wanted with this series was to bring the community together to celebrate our similarities and our differences. Three exhibitions later, those artists are still in my life. It is great to see how to this day, various members of the collective have continued to foster their relationship with each other. Additionally, to witness the several projects that have emerged as a result. I am pleased to say that I was able to do that.

3. What social, artistic, and political perspectives inform your work?

Y: Themes around post-coloniality, slavery, and identity formation within the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latinx communities regularly circulate and inform my work. Afro-syncretism as a connector to the past, present, and future within African diasporic communities is of uttermost importance and dominant factor within my artistic and curatorial practices. I research sites of historically significant (both nature and architecture ruins alike) throughout the Caribbean and the United States to reimagine new perspectives and alternative futures through wearable art, photography, and video documentation. My work lives simultaneously between the past and the present. I source archival material and consult with the African diasporic communities I am connected to, thus creating images that speak to the collective experience. I am also particularly interested in gentrification and the changing landscape. I often ask myself who were the original inhabitants of this location before selecting a site for my shoots? Who is currently living here, and who will eventually end up here? Asking myself these questions helps me construct a more rounded project, holds me accountable, and keeps me informed.

4. One can find many influences in your fashion practice. Can you discuss specifically the role of Afro-Latinx and Caribbean religions in your fashion art and as a curator?

Y: I started researching Afro-syncretic religions in the Dominican Republic and Haiti out of curiosity. Growing up, I saw bits and pieces of these traditions scattered around in various Afro-Latinx homes, but it was never fully passed down or openly spoken about to me. While researching in my early twenties, I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between these religions. Geography and language truly reconstruct how people practice and interpret these African traditions. It became evident that Afro-syncretic religions are connectors to our ancestors and each other no matter what language we speak or our geographical location. I was also interested in how others outside of these cultures negatively perceived these Afro-centered traditions. In addition, how the colonial mindset is still a factor that removes us from our roots. Because even within Black communities, we condemn Afro-syncretic religions while embracing Christianity. Through my artistic practice, I seek to create images that break away from these negative stereotypes. Images that celebrate Black Latinidad and African diasporic communities while recognizing the past. As a curator, I strive to provide a platform where other Afro-Latinx and Caribbean artists exploring themes of spirituality and coloniality could have a voice. Also to highlight our African roots within vernacular cultures and the quotidian.

5. How do you engage with historical materials when curating an exhibition and as an artist?

Y: As an artist, I use historical material as inspiration. I find historical accounts, read them against the grain, and reinterpret them within my artistic practice. I rarely take the archives as absolute facts. I take into consideration the archivist and their purpose? . What was the archivist's intention in preserving these materials or their bias? I usually pull from colonial archives, hence why I am skeptical about my findings. Yet, I use the opportunity to reimagine history and give a voice to those silenced or erased by colonial archives. I see myself traveling more in the future. I intend to visit these historical sites mentioned in the archival materials I've found, incorporating them into my photography and video work, as a practice of accountability and preservation.

6. Can you tell us more about your experience directing and producing the chamber opera EBBÓ? What were some of the new elements that you introduced to this piece?

Y: EBBÓ originally premiered in 1998. It is a chamber opera based in Cuba, highlighting themes and elements found in Santeria throughout the narrative by Cuban composer Louis Aguirre and librettist Rafael Almanza. This interpretation of EBBÓ was commissioned by the America Society, specifically for online viewing. Set in the Dominican Republic, I envision EBBÓ in two ruins connected to the colonial and slave period of Hispaniola. I brought this opera to Ingenio Boca de Nigua, where the first documentation of Black resistance took place in the entire island of Hispaniola. It was a rebellion organized by an enslaved woman in the 1700s by the name of Ana Maria. I found her story to have some similarities with the protagonist of EBBÓ, making these ruins the perfect location for the film. It was also the longest short film I have done, as of today, incorporating dancers from the Dominican Republic. It was such a great experience working on this film on the island with a full Dominican cast and crew. This opportunity allowed me to join my interest in Dominican history, specifically history connected to acts of rebellion and resistance, with Afro-syncretism.

7. You recently submitted your Master’s thesis, “The Ghost Personified: Race, Museum Exclusionary Practices, and Archival silences in Dominicanyork art,” for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Museum Studies program at New York University. Can you discuss what motivated you to conduct research and write about this topic? In addition, what were some of the challenges with researching and writing this thesis? 

Y: I am well aware that my efforts are part of a continuous dialogue and collective struggle. My goal for my thesis paper was to highlight the Dominican York artists that paved the way for me and my contemporaries. My thesis thus celebrates Dominican York artists and illustrates the collective and individual efforts made by Dominican York artists to heighten visibility within US and Dominican visual culture discourse. My motivation for this thesis was personal as a self-identifying Dominican York artist with an outsider/insider disposition in the Dominican Republic and the States. I wanted to highlight that Dominican York art is Dominican and American art. Therefore, it should be readdressed as such within museum institutions across the United States and the Dominican Republic. I interviewed three Dominican York artists from distinctive generations spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s. My goal was to demonstrate how artists have inched towards cultural equity, providing stepping stones for the next generations. However, I also wanted to showcase that despite these strides, Dominican York artists have yet to reach a higher position within the art world as their contemporaries (Nuyorican), regardless of being one of the largest immigrant populations in New York. 

Researching during the pandemic was a great challenge. However, I was able to rely on a robust community that was eager to share resources such as books and articles from their private archives. I was able to do this due to years of community building through my cultural collective of La Lucha: Dominican Republic and Haiti, One Island that allowed me to build a family of artists throughout the year. I employ my community back on the island to get resources that have not been archived, either because of lack of resources or other hierarchical political reasons. Without this community, a thesis such as this would have been impossible to complete. Most of my archival material was from personal archives. This experience made me come to the realization that there is much to be done as our story is scattered around in fragmented pieces. One of the articles that informed my work was an interview by Felix Disla that you shared with me. Via social media, I tracked down one of his former students who had a book by Disla that was out of print and was not in any of the libraries in NY. A friend of mine met up with Disla former student and scanned it for me. In the article, there was mention of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum curated by Disla. I reached out to Suhaly Bautista-Carolina that currently works at the Met, whom I have known for years, and she was able to track down a copy of the invitation. Without my community, my thesis wouldn't be possible. It is a collective effort.

8. Lastly, would you like to share any entertaining anecdotes or details from past exhibitions in this collection that make them particularly interesting?

Y: The first exhibition of La Lucha: Dominican Republic and Haiti, One Island, as I mentioned earlier, was protested by a group of Dominican nationalists. That evening they handed out fliers condemning the exhibition and challenging my character. Days leading to the opening, I found myself erasing hate messages on the Facebook invite. I did not want this negativity amongst my community. However, it got to a point it was overwhelming, and I decided people should see them. I didn't know we would get protestors during opening night. However, reading their article motivated me even more. It showed me how much work we have ahead of us, especially when people from the same cultural background have such polarizing points of view about our history. I found this piece and would love to add it to the archives.

Yelaine archives
Close up on the materials donated to the library

We would like to express our gratitude once again for Yelaine donating these materials to the library, and we look forward to incorporating her work in the future alongside other artists through the digital project Dominican Artists in the United States to help further disseminate her work with researchers, students, teachers, and the general public. 

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian


ONTO donates two publications to the CUNY DSI Library

ONTO
ONTO Pub/1 edition and the third ONTO Pub /3 edition are now available at the library.


Professor Sarah Aponte would like to thank Julianny Ariza for donating two copies of the Dominican art publication ONTO to our library through artist Joiri Minaya, collaborator of ONTO publications. The donation consists of the ONTO Pub / 1 edition and the third ONTO Pub / 2 edition. We recommend checking out their website to learn more about this publication produced by Dominican artists on the current art scene in the Dominican Republic and other related issues here: http://www.onto.pub/

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian


Rehousing of ¡AHORA! Magazine Collection

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The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library has just completed the reorganization and rehousing of the ¡AHORA! magazine collection. ¡AHORA! magazine was founded by Dominican journalist and lawyer Rafael Molina Morillo on January 15, 1962, and was considered a  progressive media outlet for its support of freedom of expression and human rights in the country. The magazine ran until 2004, and the library has been able to preserve a few original issues from 1969 until 1978. While the collection is incomplete, the rehousing has made it possible to protect these issues for many years to come, and it was a collaborative effort that we attempted within the library. 
 
With the assistance of library assistant Matthew Santana and intern Jorge Vasquez, a Queens College graduate student, enrolled in the Library Science, and History, dual degree program, we were able to complete the project.
 
It was a team effort, and I am so proud of the library staff for getting it done so quickly. They look great, and we look forward to sharing this resource with future researchers.
 
Jhensen Ortiz
Librarian
 

Visita de historiadores dominicanos

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El Profesor Anthony Stevens-Acevedo y la Profesora Sarah Aponte, Director Auxiliar y Encargada de la Biblioteca del CUNY DSI respectivamente, agradecen al Dr. Marcos Charles (izquierda en la fotografía) por coordinar la visita de los historiadores dominicanos José C. Novas, (segundo desde la izquierda), Luis Alvarez López (tercero desde la izquierda) y Ramón Emilio Espínola (derecha) a nuestra Biblioteca, donde donaron numerosas publicaciones de su autoría y compartieron ideas para futuras colaboraciones.

 Los historiadores donaron las siguientes publicaciones para que formen parte de nuestra colección:

 Luis Alvarez-López

-          Secuestro de bienes de rebeldes: estado y sociedad en la uìltima dominacioìn espanÞola, 1863-1865

-          Dieciséis conclusiones fundamentales sobre la anexión y la guerra de la restauración (1861-1865)

-          Cinco ensayos sobre el Caribe hispano en el siglo XIX : República Dominicana, Cuba y Puerto Rico 1861-1898

-          Dominican Republic and the Beginning of a Revolutionary Cycle in the Spanish Caribbean

-          Guerras de liberación en el Caribe hispano, 1863-1878

 Ramón Emilio Espínola

-          La participación dominicana en las guerras por la independencia de Cuba

-          Remembranzas: crónicas de la Ocupación 1916-1924, la era de los Estados Unidos.

-          Dominicanas ejemplare: estudio histórico-biográfico y breve análisis del machismo en la historia

-          Trujillo: causas e implicaciones que dieron origen a la dictadura

-          Trujillo y sus relaciones con los gobernantes haitianos

-          Trujillo, anécdotas y cosas de un dictador

-          Mujeres extraordinarias de la patria puertorriqueña

-          Compendio histórico-biográfico de extranjeros que participaron en la formación de la nación dominicana

 José C. Novas

-          El presidente Cáceres: fábula del progreso, el orden y la paz

-          La batuta de Alejandrito: perfil biográfico del general Alejandro Woss y Gil, 1856-1932

-          Twice the diplomat: Frederick Douglass's assignments to the island of Santo Domingo

-          Los gavilleros: la lucha nacionalista contra la ocupación, 1916-1924

-          Balaguer, Trujillo y el beso de Judas

-          Trujillo: La emboscada final: muerte y funeral del generalísimo

 

William Parra

Research Assistant


Después de Trujillo/After Trujillo

Poster-Después-de-Trujillo

 

On February 16th, I attended the screening of Después de Trujillo at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Claudia Calirman, Associate Professor of Art History, invited co-directors Lisa Blackmore and Jorge Domínguez Dubuc to screen and discuss the new documentary on dictatorship, space, and memory with her students. The documentary opened a space to discuss the legacy of the Trujillo dictatorship through the monuments, memory gardens, and contemporary ruins. A range of Dominican voices from historians and architects to activists and torture victim’s talk about the rise of Trujillo in the wake of the destruction of Hurricane San Zenón in 1930 as Trujillo came to power and consolidated his power through the modern architecture and the testimonies of resistance leading up to his demise in 1961.

The students engaged with the filmmakers by asking questions concerning represented voices in the film, national identity, and the role of Dominican and foreign artists or architects in shaping the vision of modernity. Also, they discussed the remnants of the dictatorship both physical and emotional for the many families still coping with their traumatic experience lived during the regime. The many institutions and public memorials like the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana, Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal, Monumento Héroes del 30 de Mayo, and Monumento a Los Héroes de Constanza, Maimón y Estero Hondo still exercise this past and challenge the politics of memory after Trujillo.

Furthermore, the impact from rescuing memory and development of Truth Commissions in Latin America the last few years situates the film in an unusual context of confronting historical impunity. The voicing of modernity enforced during the Trujillo dictatorship and the ghosts, which live on through monuments, gardens, and contemporary ruins are defining the complex issues with memory within Dominican society today.

We currently do not own a copy of the film, but we highly recommend this documentary to the public, students, and scholars with interest in the Trujillo era (1930-1961), Historical/Cultural Memory, Modernism, and the history of urban development in the Dominican Republic. Also, check out the co-director’s blog to learn more about the film where they share the process of making the film from beginning to end.

Jhensen Ortiz

Assistant Librarian


Prof. Sophie Maríñez shares her work with us

Professor Sarah Aponte would like to thank BMCC Professor Sophie Maríñez for taking the time to share her academic work with us at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library.

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Prof. Sophie Maríñez has made available via her profile on the academic social networking site Academia.edu her poems "Carnival Day in Santo Domingo," "Sentencia del Infierno," and a French translation of one of Frank Baez's poems "La Marilyn Monroe de Santo Domingo." She has also translated into French "Comrade, Bliss ain't playing" written by Josefina Báez in 2012. We encourage students, researchers, and the general public to check out her profile and tell her we sent you!

Assistant Librarian

Jhensen Ortiz


Aurora Arias y Emoticons!

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Como bibliotecaria en el CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, es un gran privilegio tener la oportunidad de conocer a grandes escritores  dominicanos que nos visitan y donan sus publicaciones.

Fue un verdadero placer conocer y compartir con la escritora Aurora Arias durante su cálida visita. Felices de que nos donara la última edición de Emoticons publicada por el sello editorial argentino Corregidor con un excelente prólogo escrito por Gabriela Tineo.

Gracias a la Prof. Sharina Maillo-Pozo por hacer posible este hermoso encuentro.


Commemorating the historical significance of the 1965 Revolution

Below please find our pick of bibliographical references available to the general public at our library about the 1965 Revolution in the Dominican Republic. The selected list has been compiled in honor of those who fought and lost their lives fifty-one years ago on April 28, 1965 in the capital city of Santo Domingo against the American troops that invaded ,and interrupted a pivotal moment in the country's history.

Accion dominicana 1965

Meza Nieto, José. Acción dominicana: 1965 ¿Intervención o cooperación? Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, Center for Strategic Studies, 1966. 

This source is a foreign policy report that provides insight into the minds of foreign policy experts and analysts inside and outside of the Capital Beltway in Washington D.C. who were trying to make sense of the crisis unfolding in Santo Domingo.

Historia Grafica la guerra de abril

Despradel, Fidelio. Historia gráfica de la revolución de abril. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Editora Nuevo Rumbo, 1975. 

This seminal book is an important reference on the 1965 Revolution, and the subsequent U.S. military intervention that took place in the Dominican Republic

Fidelio Despradel, a theorist and leading member of the 14th of June Movement (1J4), and renegade son of a prominent government official during the Trujillo dictatorship, compiled a valuable visual resource that sheds light onto the events that led to the military coup that overthrew Bosch’s government, and the counter-coup that aimed to bring him back to power.

Also, the book highlights the various political groups that came together during the four months such as the composition of the Comandos Populares (civilian military units), the role of artists and intellectuals, women, Haitian immigrants, exiles, and foreigners who participated in the struggle against the U.S military troops and their local allies.

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Fortunato, René. Una primavera para el mundo: La revolución constitucionalista de 1965. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Amigo del Hogar, 2015. 

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Revolution, acclaimed Dominican film director René Fortunato published a collection of 650 unedited photographs. The book includes a chronology of national and international news coverage of daily events from April 24 to September 3, 1965.

Margarita011
Cordero, Margarita. Mujeres de abril. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: CIPAF, 1985. 

This book is a collection of testimonies from women who fought in the 1965 Revolution. In these interviews, Margarita Cordero, a renowned journalist, focuses on the daily lives of some of the women who participated in the revolution, and highlights their concrete experience amidst of war, their training in combat at Academia Militar 24 de Abril, As well as how women’s presence and involvement diversified the social discourse of the time and the history of the revolution. (Available online here)

Locutores014

Núñez Fernández, José Antonio. La guerra de locutores Abril 1965. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña, 2009. Print.

The book is an examination of the lives and experiences of radio commentators who were in favor of safeguarding the constitution of the Dominican Republic that recognized only democratically elected governments. These radio commentators waged a campaign against the 1965 U.S. occupation based on the unconstitutionality of the intervention. Furthermore, this book highlights the much larger collective role of many individuals in Dominican society who used whatever means at their disposal to fight against the U.S. occupation.

Available online here:  Download La_Guerra_Locutores_abril_1965

To have access to the broad and rich collection of resources related to the 1965 Revolution in the Dominican Republic, please visit The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute’s library.  

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian