Digitization of Mexico’s Jewish Heritage Newspapers

Material Information

Digitization of Mexico’s Jewish Heritage Newspapers International Collaboration and Open Access in the Aftermath of the 2017 Earthquake
Series Title:
2018 IFLA International News Media Conference
Vargas-Betancourt, Margarita
Jefferson, Rebecca J. W.
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Powerpoint Presentation


Conference Presentation


In 2016, the University of Florida (UF) established an international partnership with the Centro de Documentación e Investigación Judío de México (CDIJUM) in order to engage in joint digital projects. CDIJUM was first established as the Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Comunidad Ashkenazí (CDICA) in 1990 with a mission to rescue, preserve and provide access to the documents, archives, and books that used to be in the building of the Ashkenazi community. The 1985 earthquake in Mexico City compromised the building, and its holdings were scattered across different store houses of the community. Access was restored in 1993, and in 2009, the center’s holdings were declared a World Heritage collection by UNESCO. On March 9, 2015, the CDICA expanded its mission to hold and preserve the cultural heritage of all the Jewish communities in Mexico and it changed its name to reflect this broader vision. The new partnership with the UF Libraries (specifically, the Latin American and Caribbean Collection, the Judaica Library and the Digital Library of the Caribbean) began with the digitization of the complete run of the long-running Spanish-language Jewish newspaper, Kesher. Other scarce Mexican Jewish periodicals were also identified for future iterations of the project. However, the devastating earthquake in Mexico City this year has further highlighted the vital need for such projects. Thankfully, the newspapers had all been taken off site for digitization, but meanwhile the CDIJUM building suffered irreparable damage and their precious archives had to be transferred to temporary storage while a new building is constructed. This paper will describe the above collaborative project and why it is critical to preserve these newspapers and documents. ( en )
General Note:
Rebecca Jefferson is the head of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida where she is in charge of collection management and development. Her Ph.D. in medieval Hebrew is from the University of Cambridge, and she previously worked with the famous Cairo Genizah manuscript collection, serving as its bibliographer for 12 years. Jefferson is currently the principal investigator on a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant to protect, preserve and promote hidden or endangered Jewish community materials from Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean. She also serves as the president of the Research Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
General Note:
Margarita Vargas-Betancourt has been the Latin American and Caribbean Special Collections Librarian at the George A. Smathers Libraries of the University of Florida since 2011. After obtaining a B.A. in Hispanic Literature and Language from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she received a fellowship from Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) to pursue graduate school at Tulane University. There she obtained a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies. At the University of Florida, Margarita is in charge of processing Latin American manuscripts and of serving as liaison and reference to faculty and students. She uses her background on colonialism, ethnohistory, and diversity to identify and highlight the hidden voices in archival collections and to serve and empower Latino students at the University of Florida.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Creator/Presenter. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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University of Florida Institutional Repository


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Full Text


A Collaborative US -Mexican Partnership to Digitize Endangered Mexican Jewish PeriodicalsMargarita Vargas-Betancourt Latin American and Caribbean Collection Rebecca J. W. Jefferson Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica


Content:US -Mexican PartnershipSignificance of the ProjectThe Newspaper ProjectChallenges and Lessons Learned


USMexican Partnership:Latin-American and Caribbean materials at UFCollecting Latin American and Caribbean Judaica A brief history of the Centro Centro de Documentacin e Investigacin Judo de Mxico (CDIJUM)Natural Disasters and the Importance of International Partnerships


Significance of the Project:Brief history of the Jewish community of MexicoJewish newspapers: history and significanceMexican Jewish newspapers as historical sources and as agents of community cohesion and acculturation with wider Mexican society and other Latin American groups


The Newspaper Project:Kesher newspaper at UF and CDIJUM The Digital Library of the Caribbean and the Jewish Disapora CollectionGrants from the Latin American Research Resources Project (LARRP) Mexican vendor DocSolutionsCurrent state of the Project


Challenges and Lessons Learned:Difficulties working with international partners: different expectations and standards; clear communicationGoing forward: communicating standards, establishing expectations, establishing roles


Any questions?Margarita Vargas-Betancourt E-mail address: Rebecca J. W. Jefferson E-mail address: