Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Roof view froma distance

Argentine Popular Culture: Theater and Literary Periodicals of the Early Twentieth Century

CoordinationPeter Altekrüger

Der Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien - BKM

Select an item

1. Co-applicant


2. Project Group


IAI staff

  • Anja Meschkat    
  • Christina Billand   
  • Ralf Ullrich   
  • Margarethe Lipowski   
  • Edgar Kreitz   


3. Short description

Point of departure

Due to its size and completeness, the collection of Argentine theater and literary periodicals at the Ibero-American Institute is unique in the world. It consists of around 210 periodicalsand includes approx. 6,500 out of a total of 7,300 published issues. The publications date to the heyday of Argentine theater between 1910 and 1940. The special collection has its origins in the Biblioteca Criolla, a private library founded by the German anthropologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche and acquired by the IAI in 1939.


The value of the collection is based on the rarity of the periodicals in other libraries and archives. Because of their popular nature, there was little interest in collecting them when they were published. There are thus no extensive holdings in either Argentine or US libraries, with the exception of a few individual copies. Bibliographic details are also hard to come by. Furthermore, the publications were printed on poor quality, highly acidic paper and are acutely threatened by decay.

Through digitization and both formal and thematic indexing, these valuable primary sources will be preserved for the first time and made available to researchers on a permanent basis.


By formally and thematically indexing the periodicals at the title level and digitizing all issues, the project will make these cultural assets – acutely threatened by paper decay – available to researchers and an interested public on a permanent basis. In addition, the collection will be expanded and completed through the targeted acquisition of individual issues. In the course of the project, the collected metadata and the digital copies of the largely unknown works will be made available online through the library’s own OPAC and on a special theme-based website. After the project is completed, the digital copies of the works will be made accessible to users also through several search portals such as Europeana, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek and the Portal für Bibliotheken, Archive und Museen (BAM). An exhibition and a companion catalogue will be developed to present the materials to the public.

Task Schedule

Working at the interface between library services and research, a three-person team will first formally index and catalogue the materials, then digitize them and enter the data into the online databases relevant to research. They will also develop concepts for both a theme-based website and an exhibition with an accompanying exhibition catalogue.

Expected Results

For the rapidly developing research on Latin American popular culture, an entire publication genre will be indexed and digitized for the first time and information on its existence and contents will be made available through various Internet portals. The project will therefore contribute to preserving the intellectual and cultural heritage of the early twentieth century. Through the presentation of the materials at an exhibition and on a theme-based website, the publications’ significance will be conveyed to the general public.

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz