CLAS is designated a Comprehensive National Resource Center on Latin America by the U.S. Department of Education. While maintaining one of the strongest concentrations of Brazilianists of any university in the United States, the Center’s faculty members also have particular strengths in Mesoamerican and Andean anthropology and archaeology, the study of democracy building and economic development, Latin American literature and languages, and the study of African populations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Vanderbilt’s collection of Latin American materials is one of the library’s principal strengths. Vanderbilt established the first Institute of Brazilian Studies in the United States in 1947; hence, Brazil, particularly Brazilian history, has been a focus of the collection. The Colombian collection offers scholars a rich array of highly varied resources; most notably, the J. León Helguera Collection which includes 19th century broadsides, programas, pamphlets and newspapers, among many other rare materials. The Manuel Zapata Olivella Collection is comprised of the acclaimed Colombian anthropologist, novelist, and physician’s manuscripts, papers, transcriptions and recordings–a treasure trove of Afro-Colombiana. Vanderbilt recently acquired the Delia Zapata Olivella Collection (sister of Manuel) which focuses on the performance arts, especially music and dance and the Afro-Hispanic traditions. The library participates in the Global Resources Project focusing on Guatemalan and Mesoamerican anthropology and archaeology. A more recent area of development is Andean archaeology and anthropology, especially in Bolivia and Peru. Other special collections include early travel accounts of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Simon Collier tango collection and the ever expanding digital collection, Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies, including Brazil, Colombia, and Cuba.