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Lydia Cabrera
(1899 - September 1, 1991) Cuba - U.S.A.

Lydia Cabrera



An ethnologist, artist, historian, scholar, and writer of folktales, Cabrera was born in Havana, but developed her interest in Afro-Cuban culture in Paris, where she had gone in 1927 to study. She moved back to Cuba in 1938, and after the Castro revolution fled to Madrid and then to Miami.

She wrote 23 books and compiled a dictionary of the Afro-Cuban Yoruba language. Her best-known work was El Monte, considered the most important book about "Santería", a mix of Catholic teachings and native African religions that evolved among former slaves in the Caribbean. Her lover, in Paris, was Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra (1890 - 1936).

At her death, she bequeathed the University of Miami 150,000 pages of personal papers. In 1999 the Otto G. Richter Library received a National Leadership Award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to digitize selected material from the Cuban Heritage Collection, This special project will begin with the digitization of this significant gift. This presentation includes a description of the contents of the Lydia Cabrera Collection, and a brief introduction to her life and works.


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