Latin American Library Gets A Huge Boost

November 21, 2002

Ian Morrison, <i>Hullabaloo</i> Contributing Writer

The Latin American Studies Program has been furnished with a monetary gift to the tune of $3 million. This donation comes right after a massive giving of rare volumes to the program's collection by the Mexican Consulate of New Orleans last summer.

The donation of materials to the Latin American Library will help to overcome the loss the program felt when the Mexican consulate left the city. As reported in Inside Tulane, the University's bi-monthly newsletter, shifts of Mexican nationals to other southern cities and cost cutting by the Mexican government led to the consulate's closure.

While the departure of the Consul General of Mexico may have been detrimental to the city of New Orleans, the Latin American Library now has an additional 2,000 volumes and hundreds of journal issues to add to its existing collection, thanks to the former consulate's generosity. The entire donation occupies eight separate sections of six shelves each.

All materials date from the 1930s to the early 1990s and originate from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, El Colegio de Mexico and Mexican State universities. The most valuable part of the donation is the official government publications, which include a 24-volume compilation of presidential communiques between 1821 and 1914.

"In my mind, it reflects the confidence by the Mexican government in Tulane's importance to Mexican and Latin American studies," Assistant Director of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies James Huck said to Inside Tulane. The library intends to make copies of the materials available to libraries in Mexico.

"The donation from the Consul General of Mexico will add to our internationally renowned collection. It will also attract researchers from all over the world and help Tulane students with their own research," Nanez said.

The money recently received by the Latin American Studies Program will certainly provide assistance to the students as well. The foundation responsible for this new generosity is The Zemurray Foundation Pledge. This vital funding is a continuance of a long tradition of family philanthropy. The $3 million gift will be divided into three parts and distributed over the next six years.

Latin American Library Director and Doris Stone Librarian, Guillermo Nanez, will receive $800,000 for his endowment and research needs, and $1 million will be distributed to the Doris Stone Fund for Acquisitions and Special Projects.

"We are expecting a major donation from Merle Green Robertson of a couple of 1,000 rubbings of Mayan culture and her field notes and photographs," Nanez said of the possible usage for the fiscal gift. "This money will enable us to process collections by employing graduate students."

The Samuel Z. Stone Chair in economics will receive $1.2 million. This part of the gift allows an endowed professor in the economics department to meet the curricular needs of students interested in Latin American economical systems and finance. Samuel Z. Stone made the recent Zemurray gift in honor of his late mother, Doris Zemurray Stone, after whom the Stone Center for Latin American Studies is named.

In 1924, Doris Stone's father, Samuel Zemurray began his family's history of philanthropy when he donated an entire library and an endowment to establish the department of Middle-American research. The collection included colonial imprints and books on indigenous meso-american languages such as Mayan, Natl and Huatl.
Zemurray was the president of the Cuyamel Fruit Company, which later became the United Fruit Company. Zemurray's initial gifts provided the foundation of scholarly and academic material that helped establish Tulane's Latin American Library in 1962. His mother, Doris Stone, was an active member in the department until 1939, when she relocated to South America. Upon her father's death in 1961, Stone returned to New Orleans and took over the presidency of the Zemurray Foundation until her death in 1994.

Today, the Zemurray-Stone family continues its involvement with Tulane. The daughter of Samuel Z. Stone, Alison Stone Golcher, is a member of the Tulane Board and serves on the Presidents and the Provosts council. Stephanie Stone Feoli received her M.A. degree from Tulane in Latin American Studies. The combination of the Zemurray Pledge and the books from the General Consul of Mexico have brought about lasting changes to Tulane and all of its students, whether in Latin American Studies or other departments.

"Absolutely any way we can improve the library will help students with their research. Every class has something to do with Latin American Studies," Valerie McGinley Marshall, departmental development officer for the Center of Latin American Studies said. "This funding will increase access to research information and there will be better materials to help students."

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