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Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

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Reading and wondering in the 19th century: la colección de la novela popular española

Duration01.10.2019 – 30.04.2022
CoordinationPeter Altekrüger

Dr. Ricarda Musser


Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM)

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1. Project Group


IAI staff

  • Andreas Levin   
  • Anja Müller   
  • Ariane Herms   

former IAI staff

  • Edgar Kreitz (2019-2020)   


2. Short description

Point of departure

Due to their rarity and excellent density the material from the 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century, in the IAI's collections on Ibero-American popular culture, are a special attraction for scholars from Germany and abroad. Due to the extended demand for these materials, they have been successively digitized in recent years with internal and external funding, provided to the public domain, and are now available independent of time and place. 

Digitization makes it much easier to compare and recontextualize materials from different countries and to track international networking and transfer processes. Over the past 10 years, digitization has made materials visible whose existence were largely unknown and contributed significantly to initiate research projects.

First: the beginnings of the popular novel in the 19th century in the form of serialized novels (novelas por entregas), novels in single editions, graphic novels (aleluyas), broadsheets (pliegos de cordel), as well as absolutely unique and previously unknown promotional materials (cuadernillos promocionales) for these novels and the first novel magazines. 

Secondly, materials from the period 1900 to 1939 with about 600 complete novel series with about 20,000 issues, as well as single copies from hundreds more series. These publications cannot be found in the Spanish National Library in this breadth and completeness. These materials, often distributed at newsstands or ambulatory, stand out for their colorful cover illustrations, which reflect the latest in graphic technology during that period. This part of the collection is rounded out by approximately 2,000 individual novels as well as numerous copies of a wide variety of novel magazines. 

Thirdly, the period from 1940 to the present includes approximately 30,000 novels from paperback series (Bolsilibros), which illustrate and represent virtually the entire breadth of the Spanish publishing landscape. The collection is rounded out by a Mexican section, a Cuban section, but above all a spectacular Argentine section.

The thematic scope ranges from historical and national themes, to adventure, romance and wild west novels, also including sports, pirate, agent and crime novels. 


The aim of the project is to record and digitize the rare materials of the Fernando Eguidazu Collection from the 19th century, which have hardly been indexed even on an international level, so that they can be used in future research on Ibero-American popular literature. This is of interest to scholars who want to work specifically on Spain, as well as to those who approach popular literature from a comparative perspective and conduct research on Spain and individual Latin American countries. A thematic partition within the IAI's digital collections will be created for these materials under the title "Colección de la novela popular española." All scanned objects will be captured with OCR software to enable full-text research. In addition, for further mediation of the objects in the collection, the metadata of the digitized material is passed on to other portals, such as the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek and Europeana. This will ensure that the collection is also noted across disciplinary boundaries.

Beyond the digital presentation, the collection will be made known to academic communities in Germany and abroad by presenting it at national and international conferences whose thematic focus is either on digital transformation or popular literary formats. 

In order to draw attention to the collection as a whole, with its approximately 50,000 objects, and to highlight opportunities for research, an extensively illustrated publication will be produced by renowned German, Spanish, and Argentine scholars, which will be available free of charge at conferences and cultural events, and will be made available in open access.

Task Schedule

The project will be organized in three partially parallel sub-projects. First, the cataloging and digitization of the materials and the OCR processing of the scans (by a service provider) will be realized. Secondly, a publication on the entire collection of the Colección Fernando Eguidazu will be produced in Spanish with accompanying materials. Thirdly, the project will be communicated to the academic community (e.g. via conferences) and the interested public (web articles, presentation in the Digital Collections of the IAI or transfer of the metadata of the digital copies to the DDB and Europeana, etc.).

IAI staff members from the departments "Acquisition and Cataloguing", "Digital Library and IT Infrastructure", "Research and Publications", and "Public Relations and Cultural Management" contribute their respective expertise and experience to the realization of the overall project. 


Cataloging, digitization and presentation of the 19th century materials of the Fernando Eguidazu Collection on the IAI's "Digital Collections" platform

-    Production of an extensively illustrated publication in Spanish about the collection and its importance for international research

-    Presentation of the collection at national and international events    
     •    XXIII German Hispanist Congress (Graz, February 24-27, 2021, postponed to February 2023 due to Covid-19) 
     •    XLIII Congreso del Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (Rheims, July 6-9, 2021, virtual conference)   
     •   LXVI SALALM Annual Conference „From Hojas Volantes to Podcasts: News from Latin America and the Caribbean“ July 19-22, 2021 (New York, virtual conference).

-    Ensure the sustainability and dissemination of the collection by sharing the digitized material with the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek and Europeana. 

Expected Results

Research in the field of Ibero-American popular literature is currently intensifying and is very dynamic on a national and international level. The project draws attention to a unique source pool in Europe, the Fernando Eguidazu Collection of the Ibero-American Institute, and to the possibilities of conducting cooperative and international research on its basis. The networks for popular literature research already established at the IAI, which include numerous scholars from Spain and Latin America, play a major role in this regard. The Ibero-American Institute can be placed as an attractive partner for collaborations in the field of research and international digitization. 

The publication and presentation of the collection at various conferences, as well as the digitization of the collection section on the 19th century and the accessibility of the searchable full texts significantly increase the visibility of the source material.


3. Products


  • Altekrüger, Peter (08.07.2021): Del Quiosco al archivo: la colección Fernando Eguidazu de la biblioteca del Instituto Ibero-Americano de Berlín.

    XLIII Congreso del Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (IILI), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 06.-09.07.2021.

  • Musser, Ricarda (08.07.2021): Noticias espantosas: del artículo del periódico a la hoja ilustrada.

    XLIII Congreso del Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (IILI), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 06.-09.07.2021.

  • Altekrüger, Peter (29.06.2019): The Spanish popular novel: the Fernando Eguidazu Collection in the Ibero-American Institute. A new primary source of popular culture.

    SALALM LXIV, University of Texas at Austin


  • Sektion "Texto, sonido, imagen y archivo: entornos y perspectivas de la literatura popular iberoamericana".

    XXIII. Deutscher Hispanistentag, Universität Graz, February 24-27, 2021, postponed to February 22-25, 2023 due to Covid-19

  • Panel "El multiverso polifacético de la novela española popular (siglos XIX-XX): un archivo de representaciones del pasado".

    XLIII Congreso Internacional del Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (IILI), Université de Reims Champagne-Ardennes, July 6-9,2021


  • Musser, Ricarda / Altekrüger, Peter (Ed.) (2021): Una excursión al colorido mundo de la novela popular española: la colección Fernando Eguidazu. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut.

  • Altekrüger, Peter (2021): De un tesoro que quería irse a Berlín.

    In: Musser, Ricarda / Altekrüger, Peter (Ed.) (2021): Una excursión al colorido mundo de la novela popular española: la colección Fernando Eguidazu. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 13-17.

  • Musser, Ricarda (2021): Horrendo, inaudito y sin precedentes: hojas sueltas sobre casos criminales como parte del sensacionalismo periodístico.

    In: Musser, Ricarda / Altekrüger, Peter (Ed.) (2021): Una excursión al colorido mundo de la novela popular española: la colección Fernando Eguidazu. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 35-41.

  • Musser, Ricarda (2019): Literatura popular infantil latinoamericana en formato digital: resultados de proyectos de digitalización de las colecciones del Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin.

    In: Sánchez Ortiz, C. / Sanz Tejeda A. (ed.): La voz de la memoria, Nuevas aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura popular de tradición infantil. Cuenca: Ediciones de la Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, p. 725-736.

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz