National Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a thirty-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, falls within this thirty-day period on October 12.
A number of resources are available online to help your library celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Library of Congress, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, offers a site devoted to National Hispanic Heritage Month resources. Offering information on exhibits and collections, images, and audio and video, the site looks at such topics as “Exploring the Early Americas,” “Hispanic American Veterans,” “Mesilla, New Mexico: History and Architecture of a Border Town,” and “David Alfaro Siqueiros: Self-Portraits in Art and Writing.”
The Bronx Library Center held a number of related programs, including History of the Latino in the Bronx, a lecture/discussion by Angel Hernandez of the Bronx Historical Society; an artist's talk by Ruben Natal-San Miguel on his solo exhibition “Nocturnal/Activo de Noche—Bodegas”; screenings of two Spanish films: Chulas Fronteras and Del mero corazon; and a series of workshops on researching your Latino roots with the Hispanic Genealogical Society of New York.
Palm Beach County (Fla.) Libray System offered programs around the theme, theme of “Voces Hispanas” (Hispanic Voices). Programming included Venezuelan folkloric music, Chilean artisan crafts, songs interpreted within the Spanish tradition of the Tuna, and explorations of more modern storytelling by world-renowned Hispanic authors.
The Skokie (Ill.) Public Library offered performances by a traditional Andean music band, a Latin jazz band, and Spanish and Latin American classical vocal music as well as an evening of flamenco dancing.
Smithsonian Education offers a wide selection of Hispanic Heritage teaching resources, including the Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: People, Places and Events on Stamps online exhibit in English and Spanish, the Música del Pueblo interactive exhibition, ¡Del Corazón! Latino Voices in American Art, and Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente, among others.
The Library of Congress’s lesson plans “[e]xplore the culture, contributions and interactions of Hispanic peoples in North America through rare maps, historical documents from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, local histories, recorded songs, interactive games, and detailed online bibliographies.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities offers archives of National Hispanic Heritage Month resources on its EDSITEment Web site. The pages provide general information as well as links to featured lessons and Web sites.
The following libraries have developed a variety of resource lists for National Hispanic Heritage Month, including reading lists, film lists, and Web links: