Events, Featured, Library Resources

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

By Hannah Herrlich, Emerging Technologies Librarian

In the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15th to October 15th. This is a time to remember and honor the cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The Month That Was Two

It might seem a bit odd that Hispanic Heritage month starts in the middle of September and ends in the middle of October. This is because initial efforts to recognize Hispanic heritage came about in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, who approved a Hispanic Heritage week to be honored every September 15th. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan extended this week to a month, which has been celebrated every year since.

The timeframe of Hispanic Heritage month is significant because it coincides with the national independence days of several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on September 15th; followed by Mexico on September 16th; Chile on September 18th; and Belize on September 21st.

A Little History Lesson

Not only do these Latin American countries share similar dates for their independence days, but they also declared their independence from the same European nation: Spain.

During the 1400s-1500s, Spanish explorers embarked on journeys across the Atlantic Ocean with quests to discover the “new world,” or what would be referred to today as the Americas. Of course, the land was already inhabited by indigenous peoples, who inescapably lived under harsh Spanish colonization for centuries to come. Fast forward to 1810, when the Mexican War of Independence began and inspired neighboring colonies also to declare their independence as sovereign states. This culminated in the Act of Independence of Central America, in which the five aforementioned countries broke away from Spanish rule on September 15th, 1821.

Outina over Potanou. Photo reproduction from Theodor de Bry and Charles de la Roncière, La Floride Française: Scènes de la vie Indiennes, peintes en 1564 [facsimile of the 1564 original (Paris, 1928)]. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.

In the United States today, the Hispanic population accounts for nearly 19% of the population –that is 62.5 million people. It is important to learn and understand this history since it is not only Hispanic history, but American and world history as well.

Shepard Fairey, artist. We the people – defend dignity. 2017. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Resources for Hispanic Heritage Research

A great way to celebrate is by consciously seeking information about Hispanic American contributions to our life in the United States in every scholarly activity you engage with throughout the month. That might seem daunting, but the library has many resources that might help you in this endeavor.

If you would like to discover more resources pertaining to Hispanic Heritage, and beyond, do not hesitate to contact your university librarians at any time. We are here to help!

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