Guide to the Research Collections

- Central America (Billings HM)

Central America (Billings HM)

The general historical collection, principally composed of materials published after 1870, numbers some 2,000 volumes. Early rarities are housed in the Rare Book Division. Books of description and travel are an interesting feature, as are the large holdings of printed documentary material. Special subjects include boundary disputes and the Nicaraguan and other trans-Isthmian canal projects. Technical materials on canals are available in the Economic and Public Affairs Division and the Science and Technology Research Center.

The Rare Book Division is actively adding to a collection of materials on the Scottish colonial project called the Darien Scheme. Also of note are its holdings of bound volumes of "decretos, ordenes, actas," and the like of the Asamblea Constituyente of Guatemala during the period 1824 to 1851 in four volumes, with many broadsides and pamphlets bound in. Another volume contains both official and nonofficial broadsides for the period 1826 to 1840.

Public Documents

The collection of government publications of Central American countries is good, although incomplete. Statistics is among the subjects strongly represented. Official gazettes such as El Guatemalteco (1841-71, 1897- ) and La Gaceta of Honduras (1830/31- , incomplete) are held in substantial runs. The library also has material from the Confederación de Centro-América during the period 1823 to 1840. The library has over 32 percent of the titles listed by James B. Childs in The Memorias of the Republics of Central America and of the Antilles (1932), and is actively adding to the collection. Briefly, publications of the individual republics are:

British Honduras:

The collection is generally strong, though some files are incomplete.

Costa Rica:

The files of important series are broken but not fragmentary.


The collection has few complete sets, although there are scattered files of departmental reports from the 1880s to date. Administrative reports for recent years are generally strong.


This collection contains strong, though incomplete, sets of administrative reports.


This collection is one of the strongest of the Central American group, with long runs of important series.


These publications constitute a good collection, although the series are generally incomplete.