Reflections of Culture, Identity, and Politics: Latin American Newspapers and Magazines at The New York Public Library

By Nikki Lopez and Elizabeth Rutigliano, General Research Division
October 31, 2023
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Table of Contents
"Latin-American periodicals current in the Reference Department" from NYPL's Bulletin, 1920

General Research Division, NYPL

Between 1810 and 1825, the Wars of Independence in Latin America led to a proliferation of periodicals. During these wars, the press was granted unprecedented freedoms, and many publications—newspapers in particular—were produced to establish a new political legitimacy that supported nationalism, liberalism, anti-colonialism, and social equality. As a result of their emergence during this critical period, newspapers and magazines served as vital sources of information regarding social and political movements, cultural heritage, and identity transformations. Furthermore, they provide invaluable records of historical events.

In the aftermath of the wars, newspapers served as the central platform for disseminating news and information to the general public. Prior to their widespread distribution, regions lacked access to information about events occurring in neighboring areas and elsewhere. As nations gained independence, newspapers helped define their identities by promoting new national names, symbols, and patriotism.

As an outcome of distinct tensions in the region, there was an explosion of magazines during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, allowing for more focused discourse within broader societal and cultural contexts. For example, Mexico's La Semana de las Señoritas Mexicanas (1850-1852) was an independent literary magazine aimed at educating and informing women on cultural events, history, and science in response to the absence of formal schools. 

Newspapers and magazines allowed readers to explore a wide range of topics, including political, social, cultural, and intellectual issues of the day, often authored by renowned Latin American writers. Many contemporary publications echo the legacy of these historical periodicals, continuing to shape Latin America's intellectual and cultural landscape and communities.

The New York Public Library’s General Research Division offers an extensive collection of historical and current newspapers and magazines, which serve as a valuable resource for those interested in exploring Latin American history. Additionally, the Library's collection includes bibliographies that, for decades, have served as a launching pad for researchers interested in this material. They illustrate the Library's commitment to maintaining a comprehensive collection of foreign periodicals in addition to domestic ones. A few examples date back to 1909 and 1920, such as Latin-American Periodicals Currently Available in the Reference Department of The New York Public Library and a List of Works in The New York Public Library Relating to Mexico.

Today, the Research Catalog is the product of a remarkable collaboration among NYPL, Columbia, Princeton, and Harvard University. This partnership significantly extends the collection's scope and includes a wide range of Latin American newspapers and magazines available in print and microfilm.

Notable Newspapers and Magazines

The following titles provide a glimpse into the depth of the newspaper and magazine collection and can be requested with a New York Public Library card. At the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, historical issues can be requested in the Rose Main Reading Room, and recent issues are available in the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room.

Cover of Imagen
Cover of Imagen, March 1987

General Research Division, NYPL

Imagen (Puerto Rico)

Established in 1986 and active today, Imagen has solidified its status as one of Puerto Rico's leading monthly publications dedicated to fashion and lifestyle. This magazine has become an essential resource for those seeking inspiration in fashion and beauty, while reporting the latest insights into the country’s vibrant cultural landscape.

Front Page of Clarín
Front Page of Clarín, August 28, 1991

General Research Division, NYPL

Clarín (Argentina)

In comparison with other Latin American nations, Argentina's newspaper readership is higher than average. (It is one of the few Latin American countries where print media revenues are almost as high as those of free-to-watch television.) Clarín is the largest newspaper in Argentina and the most widely circulated in Latin America (approximately 300,000 copies). It was founded in 1945 by Roberto Noble, an ex-minister of the Province of Buenos Aires, who established it as a local publication in the city. The newspaper aimed to become Argentina's first mass publication with a national scope.

Cover of O Cruzeiro
Cover of O Cruzeiro, February 1966

Columbia University, ReCap

O Cruzeiro: Revista Semanal Ilustrada (Brazil)

O Cruzeiro (1928–1975) was Brazil's first nationally circulated illustrated magazine and was a formidable rival to American and European heavyweights like Life and Paris Match. This magazine played a pivotal role in modernizing Brazilian media, thanks to the duo of Brazilian journalist David Nasser and French photographer Jean Manzon during the 1940s and 1950s. Nasser and Manzon led innovative approaches to Brazilian photojournalism by focusing on photo essays rather than text, using concise captions to complement the selected images.

Front Page of JIT
Front Page of JIT, July 1997

General Research Division, NYPL

JIT (Cuba)

Cuban sports newspaper JIT, founded in 1996, is published weekly by the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation. It covers a wide range of sports-related news, events, athlete interviews, profiles, and statistical information. JIT is an invaluable informational source and promoter of sports and physical activities in the country.

El Diario La Prensa Cover
Front Page of El Diario La Prensa, February 3, 2006

General Research Division, NYPL

El Diario La Presna (USA)

José Camprubí established La Prensa (1913–1963) as a news source for predominantly Spanish and Cuban immigrant communities in New York City.  In the following years,  El Diario de Nueva York (1948–1963) was founded by a Dominican immigrant named Porfirio Domenici and primarily tailored to Puerto Ricans, a rapidly growing population at the time. In 1962, El Diario de Nueva York purchased and merged with La Prensa, creating El Diario La Prensa, and becoming the nation's longest-running Spanish language newspaper. The newspaper's success is due to its ability to redefine its focus and include new topics to meet the diverse needs and interests of its ever-changing Latin American New York City audience.

Cover of Cuadernos del Viento
Cover of Cuadernos del Viento, May - June 1965

General Research Division, NYPL

Cuadernos del Viento (Mexico)

Cuadernos del Viento (1960–67) was a literary magazine co-founded by writers Huberto Batis and Carlos Valdes and is renowned as a historical publication of Mexican literature. Despite its brief existence, the magazine was a product of the social and cultural influences of 1960s Mexico, serving as a platform for diverse literary communities to converge. This publication found its roots in El Renacimiento (1869– 1894), a literary magazine that once provided young writers and creators a platform to express themselves freely, encouraging open communication among individuals, regardless of their beliefs, attitudes, or nationalities.

La Estrella de Panama Cover
Front Page of La Estrella de Panama, December 16, 1971

General Research Division, NYPL

La Estrella de Panamá (Panama)

La Estrella de Panamá is the oldest and most prominent newspaper in Panama. It is widely known for providing thorough coverage of news and events in Panama and worldwide. Initially, the newspaper was published in English as The Panama Star (1849–1853), established in early 1849 by three travelers from the British passenger liner S.S. Oregon: J.B. Bidleman, S.K. Heranie, and J.F. Bachman. Lacking a secured steamer connection for their onward journey to California, they took it upon themselves to create the publication to document events celebrated by fellow Americans in the Isthmus. The first issue, published in February 1849, was devoted to commemorating George Washington's birthday anniversary. In June 1894, it was purchased at an auction by José Gabriel Duque. Following his passing in 1918, his son, Tomas Gabriel Duque, succeeded as president and publisher of both the Star & Herald and La Estrella de Panamá, establishing them as the respected publications they are today.

Cover of Cotidiano Mujer
Cover of Cotidiano Mujer, March 1991

General Research Division, NYPL

Cotidiano Mujer (Uruguay)

Cotidiano Mujer is a feminist collective from Uruguay, established in 1985, near the end of the Uruguayan dictatorship of Rafael Addiego. The collective launched a magazine named Cotidiano Mujer (1985–2013) to highlight and promote the visibility of women's everyday experiences. Each magazine issue addressed critical topics, including labor and abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, racial discrimination, and sex work, and engaged in debates on feminism.

El Peruano Front Page
Front Page of El Peruano, January 17, 1983

General Research Division, NYPL

El Peruano (Peru)

El Diario Oficial El Peruano, commonly known as El Peruano, is possibly the oldest newspaper in Latin America. Founded by Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan military and politician who presided over the nations that formed the “Republic of Colombia," this historic publication was first published in Lima, Peru on October 22, 1825. It serves as the primary method of disseminating and publishing official government documents, the country's legal regulations, national jurisprudence, and specific mandatory notices (legal notices). As of now, El Diario consists of three standard sections: The Informative Diario (journalistic content), The Official Gazette (legal notices), and The Legal Standards Separata. El Peruano is a vital source of legal information and transparency for Peruvian citizens.

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