“Finding the Silver Voice: Afro-Antilleans in the Panama Canal Museum Collection at the University of Florida”

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
“Finding the Silver Voice: Afro-Antilleans in the Panama Canal Museum Collection at the University of Florida”
Physical Description:
Conference Papers
Creator:
13th International Conference on Caribbean Literature (ICCL)—Panama in the Caribbean: The Caribbean in Panama. University of Panama, Panama City, November 13-16, 2013. ( Conference )
Vargas-Betancourt, Margarita
Publication Date:

Notes

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to discuss how archivists and librarians have approached the challenge of finding manuscripts and artifacts that document West Indians’ life and work in the Panama Canal Museum collection housed at the University of Florida (UF). In 1999, Canal Zone residents that retired to Florida opened the museum. Their objective was “to preserve the history of the American Era of the Panama Canal (1904-1999)” (http://cms.uflib.ufl.edu/pcm/Home.aspx). The collection consists on the artifacts, publications, and manuscripts that American Canal Zone residents or their descendants donated to the museum. In 2011, the Panama Canal Museum closed its doors and transferred its collection to UF libraries. This has contributed to enrich UF’s Latin American Collection and to make it one of the leading repositories of material related to the Panama Canal. Although the transfer took place recently, it has already yielded a variety of academic projects at UF and elsewhere. One is an exhibit on diversity in the Panama Canal (UF, August 2014), and the other, a class on West Indian workers in the Panama Canal which will be taught simultaneously at UF, Amherst College, and the University of Miami (Fall 2013). Even though the collection highlights the perspective of the American residents, it is possible to find the presence and the impact of West Indians in the construction of the canal. As archivists and librarians locate this material, they are incorporating it to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to create a public archive of West Indians in Panama.
Acquisition:
Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Margarita Vargas-Betancourt.
General Note:
This paper was part of the panel Panama Silver and the Making of Modern Literature, which introduced a collaborative, digital humanities course entitled “Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Migration, Money, and the Making of Modern Caribbean Literature,” and illuminated the significance of West Indians in Panama for the formation of Caribbean literature. The panelists designed and taught the course at Amherst College, the University of Florida, and the University of Miami. In the first paper in this panel, Rhonda Cobham-Sander articulated the overarching goal of the course; namely, that these two, closely related migrations were critical to the development of the Caribbean middle class, political nationalism, and national literatures. In the second paper, Leah Rosenberg outlined primary historical and literary sources on West Indians in Panama now available in the Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com) and discussed how this supports collaboration in teaching and research. In the third paper, Margarita Vargas-Betancourt discussed the challenges of finding archival materials concerning West Indians in Panama in, U.S.-oriented archives (which we are using in the course). In the final paper, Donette Francis demonstrated the implications of positioning Panama Silver, the capital accumulated by West Indians, as critical to shaping modern Caribbean literature by reexamining Salkey’s understudied 1971 novel, The Late Emancipation of Jerry Stover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID:
IR00003593:00001

Full Text

PAGE 1

Antilleans in the Panama Margarita Vargas Betancourt University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries October 24, 2013

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Concrete Mixing Plant, Gatun Locks, Nov. 1909 Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016431/00001 )

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Rock Channeler at Work in Upper Miraflores Lock Site Jan. 6, 1910 Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016789/00001 )

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Lidgerwood Unloader 14% grade Tabernilla Dumps Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016788/00001 )

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Errors on the Rolls of May 1915 Panama Canal Employees Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00014744/000 01 )

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Panama Canal Commissary, with personnel, showing the "silver" and "gold" entrances Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI007246/00001 )

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U.S. Dredge Sandpiper excavating in lock site at Miraflores Panama Canal Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016121/00001 )

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Interior view of restaurant showing proprietress Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI008135/00001 )

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1916 Parade of Afro Antilleans Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI011782/00001 )

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Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015016/00001 ) Pacfico Yearbook : Paraso High School Arco Iris: Rainbow City High School Yearbook



PAGE 1

Antilleans in the Panama Margarita Vargas Betancourt University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries October 24, 2013

PAGE 2

Concrete Mixing Plant, Gatun Locks, Nov. 1909 Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016431/00001 )

PAGE 3

Rock Channeler at Work in Upper Miraflores Lock Site Jan. 6, 1910 Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016789/00001 )

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Lidgerwood Unloader 14% grade Tabernilla Dumps Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016788/00001 )

PAGE 5

Errors on the Rolls of May 1915 Panama Canal Employees Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00014744/000 01 )

PAGE 6

Panama Canal Commissary, with personnel, showing the "silver" and "gold" entrances Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI007246/00001 )

PAGE 7

U.S. Dredge Sandpiper excavating in lock site at Miraflores Panama Canal Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016121/00001 )

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Interior view of restaurant showing proprietress Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI008135/00001 )

PAGE 9

1916 Parade of Afro Antilleans Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI011782/00001 )

PAGE 10

Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015016/00001 ) Pacfico Yearbook : Paraso High School Arco Iris: Rainbow City High School Yearbook

PAGE 11

1 Margarita Vargas Betancourt University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries October 2013 Paper to be presented at the the 13th International Conference on Caribbean Literature (ICCL) Panama in the Caribbean: The Caribbean in Panama University of Panama, Panama City, November 13 16, 2013. Afro Antilleans in the Panama Canal Museum Collection at the The purpose of this paper is to discuss how archivists and librarians have approached the challenge of finding manuscripts and artifacts that document Afro Antilleans the Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCM C ) at the University of Florida (UF). In 1999, Canal Zone residents that retired to Florida opened the Panama Canal M useum in Seminole Their 1999) 1 The collection consists of artifacts, publications, and manuscripts that American Canal Zone residents or their descendant s donated to the museum. In 2012 the Panama Canal Museum closed its doors and transferred its holdings to the UF libraries. This has enrich ed American Collection and has made it one of the leading repositories of material related to the Panama Canal. Although the transfer took place recently, it has already yielded a variety of academic projects at UF and elsewhere. One is an exhibit on diversity in the Panama Canal (UF, Augus t 2014), and the other, the class taught simultaneously at UF, Amherst College, and the University of Miami (Fall 2013) by the other members of this panel 2 Even though the collection 1 Website of the Panama Canal Museum ( http://cms.uflib.ufl.edu/pcm/Home.aspx ). 2 Rhonda Cobham Sander, Professor of Black Studies and English, Amherst College ; Leah Rosenberg, Associate Professor of English, University of Florida ; Donette Francis, Associate Professor of English, University of Miami

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2 highlights the perspective of the American residents, it is possible to find the presence and the impact of Afro Antilleans in the construction of the C anal As archivists and librarians locate this material, they are incorporat ing it to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to create a public archive of Afro Antilleans in Panama. T his effort was recognized in 2011 when the one of the i nstitutions that serves as repository for records that document the presence of Afro Antilleans in the Panama Canal project. 3 The acquisition of Latin American material related to the Caribbean began in the 1930s with the creation of the Institute for Inter Tigert believed that the University of Florida had a special role because of its immedi acy to the Caribbean. 4 In 1948, U.S. librarians developed the Farmington Plan, a collaborative agreement among select U.S. libraries in which each would be asked to specialize in a specific region. n, in 1951, the Farmington Plan assigned UF as the repository for Caribbean material. 5 Since then, the Latin American Collection has worked to fulfill this task At the same time, the Latin American Collection as part of the George A. Smathers Libraries has the mission to support the needs of faculty, students, and the rest of the University of Florida community. 6 3 Website for UNESCO. ( http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ /CI/CI/pdf/mow/nomination_forms/P anama%20silvermen.pdf ) 4 Website of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida ( http://www.latam.ufl.edu/history ) 5 Ralph D. Wagner, A History of the Farmington Plan (Lanhuam: Scarecrow Press, 2002), 84. 6 George A. Smathers Libraries. Library Directions 2006 2007.

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3 purpose the transfer of the PCM C to UF has brought about the challenge to expand its content in order to ful Collection as the most important repository of Caribbean material in the U.S. 7 and of the George A. Smathers Libraries to support the needs of faculty and students. T his paper explores the challenges that librarians faced to support the specific needs of the faculty and students who are participants in the class on Panama Silver The first task of this quest was to find relevant material within the PCM C ; the second, to acquire material s that capture the voices that are absent, and the third, to upload the selections into dLOC In the first decade of the twentieth century, p eople from all over the world began to migrate to the Panama Canal Zone for work The U.S. government had established labor recruiting offices in the Caribbean and in Europe. At first the islands of the Caribbean were their main target, especially Barbados. Approximately, twenty thousand Barbadians s igned contracts to work in the Canal and thousands more went without a contract. 8 Barbadians migrated to the Canal because due to the sugar plantation economy, they had no hope of overcoming impoverishment. They also used the opportunity of going to Panama to demand better wages from plantation owners back at home With or without a c ontract, men also migrated to Panama from Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Jamaica. At first only male workers migrated. Later women followed too; they found work providing services. 9 The Panama Canal ( http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/search.html?cx=002991405718492227978%3Aa 3xnpi_fuq&sa=Search&cof=FORID%3A11&q=mission ) 7 The definition o geographic. In addition to the Antilles, it includes the Yucatan Peninsula, Central America, Colombia, the Guyanas, and Venezuela. 8 Julie Greene. The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), 29 30. 9 Greene. The Canal Builders, 30 31.

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4 project became a magnet for Afro Antillea ns. Consequently, their stories are an essential part of the history of the Canal Along with the ir manuscripts and artifacts the PCMC is now an integral part of the UF Digital Collections (UFDC) website 10 This database has been extremely useful in providing access to the collection. H owever, it has a drawback: it does not use standard Library of Congress Subject Headings. To find material related to the Afro Antilleans it was necessary to to play with search words, such as "West I ndian," "worker "laborer "silver " Antilles, "negro "black etc The results were for the most part the expected: numerous photographs of workers next to huge machine ry In many of these images the machines are the protagonists, while the workers blend into the landscape (see Figs 1 3) Another type of object document s the system of segregation in which white U.S. citizens were paid with gold currency, whereas Afro Antilleans eventually African American U.S. citizens, and other ethnic gr oups were paid with silver currency. One of the most interesting items is a manuscript on errors in the 1915 gold payroll which states that there are no corrections for the silver roll because that information was easier to keep (see Fig. 4) Another is a photograph of the commissary with two separate doors n front of the former there is a group of Afro Antillean workers, and of the latter, a group of white officials (see Fig. 5) Still another photograph po rtrays the crew of a U.S. dredge sandpiper standing in the deck (see Fig. 6) 11 White crew members are numbered and named at the bottom of the picture, the Afro A ntillean workers are only identified with the caption Like the photograp hs of the machines, these photographs describe the stereotypical 10 http://ufdc.ufl.edu/pcmi 11 Thomas Orr donated the photograph to UF in the summer of 2013.

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5 story of oppressors versus oppressed: nameless individuals who were even less important than the machinery they handled. Nonetheless, some of the photos tell a different pe rspective of such narrative 12 probably from the early 20 th century shows a black woman in a rustic dining hall Behind her a (see Fig. 7) The woman is in the center of the photograph, and she is looking directly at the camera. She is obviously the focal point, and so is the sign next to her. Whatever the m otivati on of the photographer, this is not a picture of the oppressed. West Indian women followed men in their migration to Panama. Un like men, they did not have a place in the official construction, but they thrived in the informal economy by selling board and f ood, or working as maids. Another photograph depicts a parade. Again despite the motivation of the photographer, the Afro Antilleans in this photograph appear as a united cohesive group. The men in the front of the parade wear ties and hats; they seem to b e proud leaders of their community (see Fig. 8) Although scarce, these photographs provide a presence to the Afro A ntilleans in the PCM C but not a voice. The PCMC in clude s numerous texts such as letters, testimonials, newsletters, pamphlets, booklets, flyers, yearbooks, in addition to oral history that document the stories of white U.S. residents of the Panama Canal Zone, but not of the Afro Antilleans Given the provenanc e, this is not surprising. After all, the museum was created to celebrate the American presence in the C anal But, as stated before, the mission of the PCM C s reason, it is necessary that we include the other voices that also make up the legacy of the Panama Canal. As part of this 12 A later object is a ledger that includes the Payroll Record Silver Roll Schedule of Unpaid amounts July 1944 to June 1946 ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI005419/00001 ).

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6 mission, the three instructors of the course Panama Silver identified the book Isthmian Historical S ociety Letters from Isthmian Canal Construction Workers in a bibliography that Rhonda 13 They requested Humanities Librarian, to find and digitize the book to be uploaded in to dLOC. However, Laurie Tay lor could not locate the book Rhonda Frederick indicated that she had found this book in Panama City on the shelves of the Afro exchange of information took place in th e spring of 2013, before a visit that Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries, and Rachel Schipper, Associate Dean, were going to make to Panama During this visit, the library deans asked Glenroy James, President of SAMAAP (Sociedad de Amigos del Museo Afro Antillano de Panam ) to see if the National Library of Panama would digitize the one copy of the book available Deans Russell and Schipper had visited the National Library during their travels, and had been encouraged by the significant amount of hi storic material the library had digitized The anthology Isthmian Historical Society Letters from Isthmian Canal Construction Workers was a product of a 1963 contest w hich the Isthmian Historical Society organized in order to obtain stories that documented the lives of non U.S. citizens during the construction of the Canal there was a cash incentive for the best stories), this text seemed fundamental to capture the voice of Afro Antillean workers. Afr ican American and Afro Antillean former residents of the Panama Canal have also expressed the need of including the silver voice in the PCM C at UF. In 2013, Emilio Collins went to 13 See http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016037/00001 Cultures within the Caribbean. Oxford: Macmillan Press Warwick Unive rsity Caribbean Studies, 2003. pp. 43 76

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7 Seminole to visit the Panama Canal Museum, only to discover that the museum had closed and its holdings had been transferred to UF. Emilio, an African American former resident of the Panama Canal who is a descendant of Afro Antilleans came to UF to see the PCM C He was shocked to find that despite having a great assortment of school yearbooks, the PCM C did not include the Afro Antillean schools t hat existed in the Z one. He explained that since the 1930s there were two schoo ls where the Afro Antilleans could study: on the Atlantic side, Silver City Occupational High S chool ( later known as Rainbow City Occupational High S chool ); and, on the Pacific side, La Boca High S chool (later known as Para so ) At first the s e schools only extended to middle grades for there was an explicit effort to retain Afro Antilleans at a worker rather than a professional level With time this changed. However, segregation in the Panama Canal Zone schools did not end until 1978 long after segreg ation had ended in the United States In order to fill the gap s that he had identified in the PCM C Emilio began to contact friends, or friends of friends who had yearbooks from these schools. Although his contacts were not willing to donate their physic al copies, they were willing to lend them to UF for digitization. He also contacted the Afro Antillean Museum and asked if they had copies that could be digitized. The museum has begun to lend copies to UF too. Today there are fifteen digital copies of silver school yearbooks in dLOC (see Figs. 9 and 10) At the Panamanian Afro Antilleans who either lived in the Panama Canal Zone or lived in Panama but descended from people who migrated to work in the Canal The funding for the oral history component of the project has come from a Faculty Enhancement Opportunity (FEO) that Rachel

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8 Schipper obtained in 2012, the university and the libraries, and the PCMC. This support provides evidence of a collaborative synergy to include the voice of the underrepresented group 14 The efforts to find the silver voice have been tremendous, and they reveal how hidden and inacce ssible this voice can be. However, the quest of this mission is fundamental not only to Antillean descendants, but also to identify the role that the construction of the Panama Canal had no t only in U.S. history but in the history of the Caribbean. As the course entitled Panama Silver suggest s the financial and cultural impacts that Afro Antillean workers brought back home generated the beginning of national identities. To continue this ques t inclusion of other ethnic groups that participated in the construction of the Panama Canal is needed to fully appreciate the silver voice. 14 Two of the interviewees are Emilio Collins and James Glenroy The former was born and lived Antillean schools. The latter was born and lived in Panama, and as mentioned above, is now the president of SAMAAP. o Gainesville; the university and the libraries supported the purchase of a camera, labor from several employees, and the software to videotape/edit oral histories. Finally, the PCMC funded two oral histories from two Afro Antillean descendants recommended by Emilio (personal communication with Rachel Schipper, October 24, 2013).

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9 Figure 1. [Concrete Mixing Plant, Gatun Locks, Nov. 1909] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://u fdc.ufl.edu/AA00016431/00001 )

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10 Figure 2. [Rock Channeler at Work in Upper Miraflores Lock Site Jan. 6, 1910] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesvil le, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016789/00001 )

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11 Figure 3. [Lidgerwood Unloader 14% grade Tabernilla Dumps] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016788/00001 )

PAGE 22

12 Figure 4. [Errors on the Rolls of May 1915 Panama Canal Employees] Panama Canal Museum Collect ion, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00014744/00001 )

PAGE 23

13 Figure 5. [Panama Canal Commiss ary, with personnel, showing the "silver" and "gold" entrances] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI007246/00001 )

PAGE 24

14 Figure 6. [U.S. Dredge Sandpiper excavating in lock site at Myraflores, Panama Canal] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, Georg e A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016121/00001 )

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15 Figure 7. [Interior view of restaurant showing proprietress] Panama Canal Museum Collecti on, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI008135/00001 )

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16 Figure 8. [1916 Parade of Afro Antille ans] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI011782/00001 )

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17 Figure 9. [Pacfico Yearbook] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015058/000 01 )

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18 Figure 10. [Arco Iris: Rainbow City High School Yearbook] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015016/00001 )



PAGE 1

1 Margarita Vargas Betancourt University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries October 2013 Paper to be presented at the the 13th International Conference on Caribbean Literature (ICCL) Panama in the Caribbean: The Caribbean in Panama University of Panama, Panama City, November 13 16, 2013. Afro Antilleans in the Panama Canal Museum Collection at the The purpose of this paper is to discuss how archivists and librarians have approached the challenge of finding manuscripts and artifacts that document Afro Antilleans the Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCM C ) at the University of Florida (UF). In 1999, Canal Zone residents that retired to Florida opened the Panama Canal M useum in Seminole Their 1999) 1 The collection consists of artifacts, publications, and manuscripts that American Canal Zone residents or their descendant s donated to the museum. In 2012 the Panama Canal Museum closed its doors and transferred its holdings to the UF libraries. This has enrich ed American Collection and has made it one of the leading repositories of material related to the Panama Canal. Although the transfer took place recently, it has already yielded a variety of academic projects at UF and elsewhere. One is an exhibit on diversity in the Panama Canal (UF, Augus t 2014), and the other, the class taught simultaneously at UF, Amherst College, and the University of Miami (Fall 2013) by the other members of this panel 2 Even though the collection 1 Website of the Panama Canal Museum ( http://cms.uflib.ufl.edu/pcm/Home.aspx ). 2 Rhonda Cobham Sander, Professor of Black Studies and English, Amherst College ; Leah Rosenberg, Associate Professor of English, University of Florida ; Donette Francis, Associate Professor of English, University of Miami

PAGE 2

2 highlights the perspective of the American residents, it is possible to find the presence and the impact of Afro Antilleans in the construction of the C anal As archivists and librarians locate this material, they are incorporat ing it to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to create a public archive of Afro Antilleans in Panama. T his effort was recognized in 2011 when the one of the i nstitutions that serves as repository for records that document the presence of Afro Antilleans in the Panama Canal project. 3 The acquisition of Latin American material related to the Caribbean began in the 1930s with the creation of the Institute for Inter Tigert believed that the University of Florida had a special role because of its immedi acy to the Caribbean. 4 In 1948, U.S. librarians developed the Farmington Plan, a collaborative agreement among select U.S. libraries in which each would be asked to specialize in a specific region. n, in 1951, the Farmington Plan assigned UF as the repository for Caribbean material. 5 Since then, the Latin American Collection has worked to fulfill this task At the same time, the Latin American Collection as part of the George A. Smathers Libraries has the mission to support the needs of faculty, students, and the rest of the University of Florida community. 6 3 Website for UNESCO. ( http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ /CI/CI/pdf/mow/nomination_forms/P anama%20silvermen.pdf ) 4 Website of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida ( http://www.latam.ufl.edu/history ) 5 Ralph D. Wagner, A History of the Farmington Plan (Lanhuam: Scarecrow Press, 2002), 84. 6 George A. Smathers Libraries. Library Directions 2006 2007.

PAGE 3

3 purpose the transfer of the PCM C to UF has brought about the challenge to expand its content in order to ful Collection as the most important repository of Caribbean material in the U.S. 7 and of the George A. Smathers Libraries to support the needs of faculty and students. T his paper explores the challenges that librarians faced to support the specific needs of the faculty and students who are participants in the class on Panama Silver The first task of this quest was to find relevant material within the PCM C ; the second, to acquire material s that capture the voices that are absent, and the third, to upload the selections into dLOC In the first decade of the twentieth century, p eople from all over the world began to migrate to the Panama Canal Zone for work The U.S. government had established labor recruiting offices in the Caribbean and in Europe. At first the islands of the Caribbean were their main target, especially Barbados. Approximately, twenty thousand Barbadians s igned contracts to work in the Canal and thousands more went without a contract. 8 Barbadians migrated to the Canal because due to the sugar plantation economy, they had no hope of overcoming impoverishment. They also used the opportunity of going to Panama to demand better wages from plantation owners back at home With or without a c ontract, men also migrated to Panama from Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and Jamaica. At first only male workers migrated. Later women followed too; they found work providing services. 9 The Panama Canal ( http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/search.html?cx=002991405718492227978%3Aa 3xnpi_fuq&sa=Search&cof=FORID%3A11&q=mission ) 7 The definition o geographic. In addition to the Antilles, it includes the Yucatan Peninsula, Central America, Colombia, the Guyanas, and Venezuela. 8 Julie Greene. The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), 29 30. 9 Greene. The Canal Builders, 30 31.

PAGE 4

4 project became a magnet for Afro Antillea ns. Consequently, their stories are an essential part of the history of the Canal Along with the ir manuscripts and artifacts the PCMC is now an integral part of the UF Digital Collections (UFDC) website 10 This database has been extremely useful in providing access to the collection. H owever, it has a drawback: it does not use standard Library of Congress Subject Headings. To find material related to the Afro Antilleans it was necessary to to play with search words, such as "West I ndian," "worker "laborer "silver Antilles, "negro "black etc The results were for the most part the expected: numerous photographs of workers next to huge machine ry In many of these images the machines are the protagonists, while the workers blend into the landscape (see Figs 1 3) Another type of object document s the system of segregation in which white U.S. citizens were paid with gold currency, whereas Afro Antilleans eventually African American U.S. citizens, and other ethnic gr oups were paid with silver currency. One of the most interesting items is a manuscript on errors in the 1915 gold payroll which states that there are no corrections for the silver roll because that information was easier to keep (see Fig. 4) Another is a photograph of the commissary with two separate doors n front of the former there is a group of Afro Antillean workers, and of the latter, a group of white officials (see Fig. 5) Still another photograph po rtrays the crew of a U.S. dredge sandpiper standing in the deck (see Fig. 6) 11 White crew members are numbered and named at the bottom of the picture, the Afro A ntillean workers are only identified with the caption Like the photograp hs of the machines, these photographs describe the stereotypical 10 http://ufdc.ufl.edu/pcmi 11 Thomas Orr donated the photograph to UF in the summer of 2013.

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5 story of oppressors versus oppressed: nameless individuals who were even less important than the machinery they handled. Nonetheless, some of the photos tell a different pe rspective of such narrative 12 probably from the early 20 th century shows a black woman in a rustic dining hall Behind her a (see Fig. 7) The woman is in the center of the photograph, and she is looking directly at the camera. She is obviously the focal point, and so is the sign next to her. Whatever the m otivati on of the photographer, this is not a picture of the oppressed. West Indian women followed men in their migration to Panama. Un like men, they did not have a place in the official construction, but they thrived in the informal economy by selling board and f ood, or working as maids. Another photograph depicts a parade. Again despite the motivation of the photographer, the Afro Antilleans in this photograph appear as a united cohesive group. The men in the front of the parade wear ties and hats; they seem to b e proud leaders of their community (see Fig. 8) Although scarce, these photographs provide a presence to the Afro A ntilleans in the PCM C but not a voice. The PCMC in clude s numerous texts such as letters, testimonials, newsletters, pamphlets, booklets, flyers, yearbooks, in addition to oral history that document the stories of white U.S. residents of the Panama Canal Zone, but not of the Afro Antilleans Given the provenanc e, this is not surprising. After all, the museum was created to celebrate the American presence in the C anal But, as stated before, the mission of the PCM C s reason, it is necessary that we include the other voices that also make up the legacy of the Panama Canal. As part of this 12 A later object is a ledger that includes the Payroll Record Silver Roll Schedule of Unpaid amounts July 1944 to June 1946 ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI005419/00001 ).

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6 mission, the three instructors of the course Panama Silver identified the book Isthmian Historical S ociety Letters from Isthmian Canal Construction Workers in a bibliography that Rhonda 13 They requested Humanities Librarian, to find and digitize the book to be uploaded in to dLOC. However, Laurie Tay lor could not locate the book Rhonda Frederick indicated that she had found this book in Panama City on the shelves of the Afro exchange of information took place in th e spring of 2013, before a visit that Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries, and Rachel Schipper, Associate Dean, were going to make to Panama During this visit, the library deans asked Glenroy James, President of SAMAAP (Sociedad de Amigos del Museo Afro Antillano de Panam ) to see if the National Library of Panama would digitize the one copy of the book available Deans Russell and Schipper had visited the National Library during their travels, and had been encouraged by the significant amount of hi storic material the library had digitized The anthology Isthmian Historical Society Letters from Isthmian Canal Construction Workers was a product of a 1963 contest w hich the Isthmian Historical Society organized in order to obtain stories that documented the lives of non U.S. citizens during the construction of the Canal there was a cash incentive for the best stories), this text seemed fundamental to capture the voice of Afro Antillean workers. Afr ican American and Afro Antillean former residents of the Panama Canal have also expressed the need of including the silver voice in the PCM C at UF. In 2013, Emilio Collins went to 13 See http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016037/00001 Cultures within the Caribbean. Oxford: Macmillan Press Warwick Unive rsity Caribbean Studies, 2003. pp. 43 76

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7 Seminole to visit the Panama Canal Museum, only to discover that the museum had closed and its holdings had been transferred to UF. Emilio, an African American former resident of the Panama Canal who is a descendant of Afro Antilleans came to UF to see the PCM C He was shocked to find that despite having a great assortment of school yearbooks, the PCM C did not include the Afro Antillean schools t hat existed in the Z one. He explained that since the 1930s there were two schoo ls where the Afro Antilleans could study: on the Atlantic side, Silver City Occupational High S chool ( later known as Rainbow City Occupational High S chool ); and, on the Pacific side, La Boca High S chool (later known as Para so ) At first the s e schools only extended to middle grades for there was an explicit effort to retain Afro Antilleans at a worker rather than a professional level With time this changed. However, segregation in the Panama Canal Zone schools did not end until 1978 long after segreg ation had ended in the United States In order to fill the gap s that he had identified in the PCM C Emilio began to contact friends, or friends of friends who had yearbooks from these schools. Although his contacts were not willing to donate their physic al copies, they were willing to lend them to UF for digitization. He also contacted the Afro Antillean Museum and asked if they had copies that could be digitized. The museum has begun to lend copies to UF too. Today there are fifteen digital copies of silver school yearbooks in dLOC (see Figs. 9 and 10) At the Panamanian Afro Antilleans who either lived in the Panama Canal Zone or lived in Panama but descended from people who migrated to work in the Canal The funding for the oral history component of the project has come from a Faculty Enhancement Opportunity (FEO) that Rachel

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8 Schipper obtained in 2012, the university and the libraries, and the PCMC. This support provides evidence of a collaborative synergy to include the voice of the underrepresented group 14 The efforts to find the silver voice have been tremendous, and they reveal how hidden and inacce ssible this voice can be. However, the quest of this mission is fundamental not only to Antillean descendants, but also to identify the role that the construction of the Panama Canal had no t only in U.S. history but in the history of the Caribbean. As the course entitled Panama Silver suggest s the financial and cultural impacts that Afro Antillean workers brought back home generated the beginning of national identities. To continue this ques t inclusion of other ethnic groups that participated in the construction of the Panama Canal is needed to fully appreciate the silver voice. 14 Two of the interviewees are Emilio Collins and James Glenroy The former was born and lived Antillean schools. The latter was born and lived in Panama, and as mentioned above, is now the president of SAMAAP. o Gainesville; the university and the libraries supported the purchase of a camera, labor from several employees, and the software to videotape/edit oral histories. Finally, the PCMC funded two oral histories from two Afro Antillean descendants recommended by Emilio (personal communication with Rachel Schipper, October 24, 2013).

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9 Figure 1. [Concrete Mixing Plant, Gatun Locks, Nov. 1909] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://u fdc.ufl.edu/AA00016431/00001 )

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10 Figure 2. [Rock Channeler at Work in Upper Miraflores Lock Site Jan. 6, 1910] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesvil le, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016789/00001 )

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11 Figure 3. [Lidgerwood Unloader 14% grade Tabernilla Dumps] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016788/00001 )

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12 Figure 4. [Errors on the Rolls of May 1915 Panama Canal Employees] Panama Canal Museum Collect ion, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00014744/00001 )

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13 Figure 5. [Panama Canal Commiss ary, with personnel, showing the "silver" and "gold" entrances] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI007246/00001 )

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14 Figure 6. [U.S. Dredge Sandpiper excavating in lock site at Myraflores, Panama Canal] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, Georg e A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00016121/00001 )

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15 Figure 7. [Interior view of restaurant showing proprietress] Panama Canal Museum Collecti on, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI008135/00001 )

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16 Figure 8. [1916 Parade of Afro Antille ans] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/PCMI011782/00001 )

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17 Figure 9. [Pacfico Yearbook] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015058/000 01 )

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18 Figure 10. [Arco Iris: Rainbow City High School Yearbook] Panama Canal Museum Collection, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. ( http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00015016/00001 )