Recovering provincial newspapers in Peru: Lambayeque, Ayacucho, Tacna, Cajamarca and Huancavelica (EAP498)

Aims and objectives

The archives identified for this major project hold very valuable, unique and vulnerable material. They have been selected after the detailed pilot study (EAP294) visited some of the main archives in the country and carried out an in-depth study of the state of the newspaper collections that exist in Peru and abroad. These newspapers have important stories to tell about Peru and these provinces that would be lost if they are not digitised and staff trained to properly conserve them. In spite of the country’s long history of centralism these newspapers hold the memory of regions outside the largest cities and showcase the thriving intellectual communities they fostered.

In the case of Lambayeque, the collection is large and especially rich and diverse with nearly one hundred titles published between 1847 El Regulador to 1936 El País. These newspapers tell the story of a region that has not yet been studied. They portray the struggles to become an independent department in the middle of the nineteenth century such as El Chiclayano (1850-1852) and La Estrella del Norte (1850-1864). The papers from the end of the century such as El Comercio of Chiclayo (1890-1910), El Deber (1895), El Departamento (1899-1920), El Republicano (1886-1900) and El Liberal (1869-1886) show the growing confidence of local elites. The newspapers of the early twentieth century cover the increasing modernisation of the region and the rise of an important working class movement in titles such as El Progreso (1902-1914), El Tiempo (1895-1930) as well as El Trabajador (1931) and La Mision de los Obreros (1901) which make it possible to explore previously unstudied areas.

The collection held by the ex-INC, now Ministry of Culture, in Ayacucho has no catalogue but from previous visits they are very different from the collection of newspapers from this city held at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Those held in Lima range from El Victorioso (1825), thorough El Indígena (1833), La Alforja (1848-1849) and La Estrella Federal (1848-1851), amongst others. They are all, however from the first half of the nineteenth century while the ones in Ayacucho are mainly from the second half and the early twentieth century. Organising, cataloguing and digitising the ones identified to be endangered would make it possible for the study of Ayacucho as a region and allow for a better understanding of Peruvian history as well.

In Cajamarca the situation is again very different. Although there are not many newspapers held in that collection they are in extremely poor condition and, as in the case of Lambayeque, every time they are opened their condition deteriorates. The archive holds the only known copies of La Voz Termal (1847) and La Prensa (1850), amongst others. The ones in this collection are very different from two early twentieth century ones held at the Biblioteca Nacional and the Biblioteca Instituto Riva Aguero, La Nueva Era (1906-1909), El Regenerador (1883) and La Reacción (1882). Once again having access to these collections will make it possible to better understand the history of each region and its relationship with the centre and which each other.

The important collection at Huancavelica faces great risks. El Ideal (1932) and Magisterio (1941) can still be found complete but others such as El Obrero (1911), La Voz de Huancavelica (1918), and La Sierra (1924) have been mutilated and are in urgent need for repair. These are unique resources as in Lima only El Registro Oficial de Huancavelica (1859-1870) is kept. Preservation through digitisation would encourage scholars to focus their research on this area's history, which remains unknown.

The situation of Tacna is also unique, because of its particular history which includes the occupation by Chile between 1880 and 1929. Some volumes can be found in other libraries so the attention will be restricted to the rarest, those in greatest danger and greatest demand, such as La Situación de Tacna (1882), El Porvenir de Tacna (1887) and El Norte (1900). As well as other extremely rare ones such as El Morro de Arica (1890), El Plebiscito (1925), El Ajicito (1925) that present Peruvian opinions during the Chilean occupation.

The archives have been chosen to present a balanced view of the country, with two coastal ones (Lambayeque in the north and Tacna in the south) as well as three in Andean cities: Cajamarca in the north, Huancavelica in the centre and Ayacucho in the south. The reason for this is to present the most diverse picture of the country through these regional newspapers so that they can complement and complete the centralised vision of the country currently available.

The original newspapers will be kept in the local archives in improved conditions. Staff will be trained in paper conservation and acid free boxes and envelopes will be specifically manufactured for newspaper archiving. The training workshops will also provide staff in the archives with skills and materials to help preserve their collections in the future.

The long-term aim is to create a digital repository for all these materials and so encourage other archives to digitise and upload their collections with the support of the Archivo General de la Nación, with the ultimate aim of creating a national database of digitised newspapers. The success of this process and the capacity built in the country is expected to result in a much greater digitisation project that can initially begin with these most vulnerable newspapers.