Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

¡Misterio resuelto! Funeral de Bernardo Soto Alfaro, ex presidente de Costa Rica (1885-1889) / Mystery Solved! The Funeral of Bernardo Soto Alfaro, Former President of Costa Rica (1885-1889)

September 17th, 2019

En esta ocasión es importante agradecer a las redes sociales que han sido de gran importancia para resolver el caso que se antepuso al equipo de la Biblioteca para la Investigación Kenneth Spencer. El blog, Facebook e Instagram hicieron posible que el álbum costarricense (MS K35) pueda quedarse y ser parte de la colección especial de la biblioteca. Como consecuencia, ahora los investigadores especializados en Latinoamérica, específicamente en Costa Rica, pueden acceder a la historia y/o al aspecto fotográfico del país.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro acompañado del cuerpo militar en un espacio privado / Casket accompanied by military officials in a private space

Como se indicó en este mismo blog de la biblioteca, el miércoles 3 de abril de este mismo año, a su llegada se creía que el álbum costarricense documentaba el funeral del ex presidente costarricense Federico Tinoco Granados. La información con la que en ese momento se contaba era un pequeño documento incluido en el álbum, el cual indica el lugar de compra y el supuesto contenido: “Bot in lit El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Tinoco 1919” (Comprado en la librería El Erial Oct 1980. Se dice que se trata del funeral de Tinoco 1919). Después de un análisis detallado en las fotografías, y de encontrar pistas suficientes para descartar la posibilidad de tal personaje político, buscamos más información sobre de quién podría tratarse. Varios eran los posibles candidatos, pero al publicarse el blog de la biblioteca se halló la respuesta. Hoy en día se tiene la certeza de que las 23 fotografías en blanco y negro, tomadas por el fotógrafo Manuel Gómez Miralles, documentan la despedida oficial que se le da a Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro en enero de 1931. A quien también se le conoce como General don Bernardo y quien fue presidente de Costa Rica durante dos mandatos (1885 & 1886-1890). Entre sus muchas actividades políticas, Soto Alfaro fue el fundador de la Cruz Roja Costarricense como parte de sus preparativos ante la campaña militar invasiva del Presidente guatemalteco Justo Rufino Barrios (1885).

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro fuera de la Catedral Metropolitana de San Jose / Casket outside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

Las imágenes en el álbum, que han sido colocadas en un orden aparentemente cronológico, pueden verse divididas en dos categorías. Por un lado, las hay en un espacio público, donde vemos la conglomeración del pueblo y por otro se tiene el privado en donde vemos el orden militar que no fue abolido hasta 1948. El cuerpo militar en las imágenes está siempre presente, pero en espacios más privados y enfatizando la oficialidad del evento y por lo tanto de las fotografías. Con seguridad, si se tiene el conocimiento requerido, por las tomas directas de la cámara, algunos personajes políticos o del cuerpo militar podrían reconocerse. En cuanto a contenido, hasta este momento de lo único que se tiene certeza es de quién y que se celebra, pero no cabe duda de que hay mucho más que decir.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Cortejo Fúnebre a las afuera de la Catedral Metropolitana de San José / Funeral cortège outside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

Debemos por lo tanto agradecer a Adrián Cortez Castro, quien, inmediatamente después de publicado el blog, nos proveyó el nombre de Soto Alfaro y la fecha de su fallecimiento. A la directora de la Biblioteca Nacional de Costa Rica Laura Rodríguez Amador, quien nos hizo el favor de confirmar por medio de la biblioteca digital la noticia publicada en Correo Nacional: diario de la mañana. A Rocío Fernández del Museo Nacional de Costa Rica y al especialista en la fotografía de Gómez Miralles, Gerardo Bolaños, quienes nos corroboraron la identidad del fallecido. Así mismo, nos proporcionaron la biografía de Gómez Miralles y del General don Bernardo. Gracias a la grata y amable cooperación de todos ellos el álbum MS K35 está formalmente disponible para todo aquel interesado de conocer más sobre la historia de Costa Rica.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Carruaje Fúnebre / Funeral cortège

We are happy to report that social media has been an important tool to help us solve the mystery of the Costa Rican album (MS K35). With the help of Facebook, Instagram, and the blog we have been able to share MS K35 housed in Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s special collections. Now, scholars dedicated to the study of Latin American, specifically Costa Rica, are able to access this contribution to the history and photographic material of the county.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Carruaje Fúnebre y público ciudadano / Funeral cortège with local citizens

As reported in our first blog entry (3 April 2019), tucked into the album was a note that read, “Bot in lib El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Federico Tinoco 1919.” However since Federico Tinoco, a former president of Costa Rica, died in exile in Paris in 1931, we knew this information couldn’t be correct. A detailed analysis of the album’s photos also suggested that it could not be the funeral of Tinoco’s brother, José, the Costa Rican Minister of War, who was murdered on August 10, 1919, so we continued a thorough search to find an accurate identity. There were many candidates to consider. Thankfully, a response to the previous blog entry provided us with the answer. We now know that the twenty-three black and white photographs taken by Manuel Gómez Miralles document the official memorial service of Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro in January 1931. Known as General Don Bernardo, this former two-term president of Costa Rica (1885 and 1886-1890) was also the founder of the Costa Rican Red Cross in 1885, as part of his preparations against a military invasion by Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro dentro de la Catedral Metropolitana de San José / Casket inside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

The album’s images, which appear to be arranged chronologically, are divided into two main categories. The first images depict a crowded public space and later ones depict the military, which was not abolished in Costa Rica until 1948. In these images the military is always present, emphasizing the official nature of the event and of the photographs themselves. If we closely examine the images, we might recognize certain politicians and military officials, as the photographer took direct shots, positioning the camera on the faces of the political officials and military groups. 

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Discurso por personaje diplomatico en conmemoración a Bernardo Soto Alfaro / Diplomatic figure making a speech in honor of Bernardo Soto Alfaro

We would like to publicly acknowledge the assistance of Adrián Cortez Castro for his identification of Soto Alfaro (who had been one of our potential candidates). In response to the blog post, he was able to provide the exact date of Soto Alfaro’s death and a key reference to newspaper coverage of the funeral. We also wish to express our gratitude to Laura Rodríguez Amador, director of the National Library of Costa Rica, who provided a digital issue of the Correo Nacional: diario de la mañana to confirm Soto Alfaro’s identity. Additionally, we extend thanks to Rocío Fernández from the National Museum of Costa Rica, and Gerardo Bolaños, an expert on the photography of Gómez Miralles, who corroborated the identity of the deceased and provided the biographies of Gómez Miralles and General Don Bernardo. Thanks to the power of social media and the welcome and collegial cooperation of these individuals, the mystery of MS K35 is now solved. The album is available for research to anyone interested in learning more about Costa Rica and its history.

Indira García Varela
Student Assistant
Spanish- and Portguese-Language Materials Preservation Project

Meet the KSRL Staff: Elspeth Healey

July 23rd, 2019

This is the latest installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Elspeth Healey, who joined the Spencer Research Library in 2011 as a special collections librarian. 

Where are you from?
I was born in the U.S., but I grew up in Toronto, Canada. From time to time, I’ll have a student come up to me after a class session and say “where are you from?” I have lived in the U. S. since college–so more than half of my life–but sometimes that Canadian accent still shines through!

Elspeth Healey in Spencer Library's North Gallery

Elspeth Healey, Special Collections Librarian, in Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery. Click image to enlarge.

What does your job at Spencer entail?
With my colleague Karen Cook, I am one of two special collections librarians. My curatorial responsibilities include materials for the Americas, including Latin America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. In addition to building Spencer’s collections by working with donors and booksellers, I collaborate with cataloging and conservation to make the library’s collections accessible, lead instruction sessions, engage in outreach (through events, blog posts, exhibitions, etc.), answer reference queries for researchers on and off site, and contribute to digital projects.

How did you come to work in special collections and archives?
As an undergraduate, I had worked in the preservation department of my university’s special collections library, making mylar wrappers, drop-spine boxes, and other protective enclosures. I was fascinated by the variety of books that would come across my work bench, from 20th century poetry and plays to 18th century mathematical treatises. Later, as I was researching my dissertation in English literature, I came to realize that the moments that excited me most were those spent conducting archival research. I was energized not only by the materials I examined that related to my specific project, but I also enjoyed encountering materials that related to the projects of friends and colleagues and would alert them to those materials. That is what this job is at its heart: helping to connect researchers (of all types) with the materials that have the potential to advance and transform their understanding of a particular question or subject. I applied to library school as I was finishing my dissertation, and attended a program where I had the opportunity to work 20-hours a week in a special collections library while taking the coursework for my MSIS (Master of Science in Information Studies) degree. I always advise those who want to enter the field that gaining hands-on experience working in a special collections library and archives is one of the most important things you can do in library school: it is what will help you secure a job following graduation, and it is what will enable you to determine if this is really what you want to do as a profession.

What is the strangest item you’ve come across in Spencer’s Collections?
There are so many strange and interesting things in Spencer’s collections. We have a three volume scrapbook containing rare ephemera for Astley’s Amphitheatre, which opened in London in the late 18th-century and was originally known for its equestrian spectacles and show riding. As it developed, it incorporated circus-type features alongside other types of performance, so it is often recognized as London’s first circus. The posters, flyers, clippings, and ephemera in the scrapbooks offer a fascinating record of its history, and we hope to feature them at greater length in a future blog post. Other unusual items that pop to mind include 1930s form rejection letters from a science fiction pulp magazine, early Don Quixote fan fiction, and locks of hair (a favorite 19th century keepsake). I love that each day I might come across some new intriguing item that I can then share with others.

Scrapbook page containing flyer for "The Amazing Exhibition of the little Conjuring Horse," Astley's New Entertainments.   Scrapbook page containing "Ducrow's First Appearance this Season" with picture of a man with one foot on the back of each of two horses, April 1831. Astley's Royal Amphitheatre

Image of scrapbook page containing a poster for Astley's Royal Amphitheatre, advertising a Grand Equestrian evening and events featuring Pablo Fanque, Young Hernandez, etc.  Poster for "Astley's on Thursday, November 6, 1845 ...Gala Night," with pictures of show riding along the exterior of the poster in Astley's Amphitheatre scrapbook, volume 3, p. 237

Posterbills for Astley’s performances and Astley’s Amphitheatre in Astley’s Amphitheatre scrapbooks. Posters shown are circa 1775-1847. Call Number: G126, volumes 1-3. Click on images to enlarge (it’s worth it!)

What part of your job do you like best?
See above! I relish connecting researchers–whether students, scholars, or members of the public–with materials that will open up new perspectives and avenues of inquiry.

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?
The usual things like reading, walking, movies, and travel, but I also love tracking down some of my favorite Canadian delicacies whenever I can: Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, poutine, and candy bars like Eat-more and Coffee Crisp. I’m still waiting for the day when they open a Tim Horton’s in Kansas… Lawrence certainly has much better (and less corporate) coffee and pastries, but some things just remind you of your youth…

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?
Not everything is in the online catalog. We aspire to get it all there one day, but every special collections library holds materials that haven’t quite made it into the catalog yet for one reason or another. Accordingly it’s always worth speaking to the librarian who oversees the subject area in which you are conducting research to see if there might be materials you that have missed.

The other piece of advice is to enjoy the research process. Sometimes the thing that you came to the library to examine won’t end up being the thing that really captures your intellect and imagination. Instead, it will be a folder of letters you might come across in the box next to the manuscript you were seeking to examine. This unanticipated discovery may lead your project in a new direction. Embrace the serendipity that archival research permits!

 

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

Conservation Housing: Medieval manuscripts

July 2nd, 2019

I am in the finishing-up stages of a very enjoyable project to rehouse a group of medieval manuscripts in the Special Collections. The Abbey Dore collection (currently cataloged as MS 191, but soon to be located at MS Q80) includes fifteen parchment manuscripts from the 13th century. Some of the documents have pendant seals attached, and all were housed in a slim manuscript case in folders fitted with polyester film supports inside.

Abbey Dore manuscript with seal before rehousing. MS Q80: 14.
Abbey Dore manuscript with seal before rehousing. MS Q80: 14.

While this system allowed the manuscripts to be stored upright in folders, which is certainly convenient, it is not the ideal situation for such documents. The polyester film has sharp edges that could potentially cause damage to the seals or documents, and some of the seals are heavy or broken and in need of better support. In discussions with curators and the manuscripts processing coordinator, we decided to rehouse the manuscripts in flat enclosures. The collection will now reside in three flat archival boxes, a challenge for the stacks manager who had to find the space to put them, but all agreed that flat storage would be best for these materials.

Because these documents have information on both recto and verso, the curators desired that researchers could view both sides with minimal handling of the fragile items. I made a mock-up enclosure that we looked at together, and after some troubleshooting we devised an enclosure with two mirror-image, soft Tyvek-lined cavities. This enclosure can be gently flipped over and opened from either side to view both sides of the document. Plastazote foam bumpers protect the seals from shifting, and each enclosure will be labeled with instructions for use.

Abbey Dore manuscript with seal after rehousing (recto). MS Q80: 14.
Abbey Dore manuscript with seal after rehousing (recto). MS Q80: 14.
Abbey Dore manuscript with seal after rehousing (verso). MS Q80: 14.
Abbey Dore manuscript with seal after rehousing (verso). MS Q80: 14.

Enclosure Engineering: Housing a Japanese Triptych Woodblock Print

May 14th, 2019

This week I had the great pleasure of creating a special housing for a new acquisition, a tripartite Japanese woodblock print titled Joreishiki no zu, by the artist Adachi Ginkō. (This item is not yet fully cataloged. Its placeholder record is here; check back for full details soon.) Printed in 1889, this lovely piece depicts beautifully clothed women and girls writing, reading, and storing books, and belongs to a larger series showing fashionable women engaged in other pastimes such as sewing or arranging flowers.

Adachi Ginkō, Joreishiki no zu, 1889. Japanese triptych woodblock print.
Joreishiki no zu, a triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, 1889. Click image to enlarge.
Detail of triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, Joreishiki no zu, 1889.
Detail of center and right panels of Joreishiki no zu, a triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, 1889. Click image to enlarge.

As is often the case, this project began with a discussion between a curator – in this case, Karen Cook – and I about the anticipated use and storage needs of the item. This print is in three separate parts that may once have been joined, but we didn’t feel a particular need to unite them again at this time. This print is likely to be used in classes, which means two things: first, its enclosure needs to do double duty as both a storage container and a display, and second, its container should be compact, not taking up too much valuable space on the classroom table. I suggested a portfolio with a three-hinged lid, not unlike many tablet and mobile device sleeves, that could fold back to elevate the print for viewing. Karen agreed to this approach, so I set out to build some models and puzzle out the details of the structure.

After sketching a few ideas, I started with a tiny model made from scrap board, mainly to work out how the hinges would function. Next I built a scale model using the same materials I intended to use for the real housing. This proved to be a very valuable exercise; some features didn’t work quite as I’d expected, and I observed a couple of possible drawbacks to this design. I enlisted Collections Conservator Roberta Woodrick, who is something of a housing whiz, to offer her suggestions and we came up with a couple of small but significant modifications. Finally, I reviewed the model and modifications with Karen, and at last was ready to build the enclosure.

Enclosure models for Adachi Ginkō, Joreishiki no zu, 1889.
Enclosure models for Joreishiki no zu, a triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, 1889. Left: Tiny model and scale model (closed). Right: Scale model in the open/display position. Click image to enlarge.
Adachi Ginkō, Joreishiki no zu, 1889. Side view of Japanese triptych woodblock print in enclosure.
Completed enclosure, shown in display position, for Joreishiki no zu, a triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, 1889. Click image to enlarge.

The finished enclosure is protective, lightweight, and, I hope, will be user-friendly for Spencer staff and researchers. We make a lot of enclosures for many types of library materials here in the lab, and many of those enclosures we know by heart and can turn out quickly. This project illustrates how we can always be rethinking our practice to better serve the collections and users, and how important collaboration is to conservation work.

Finished enclosure for Adachi Ginkō, Joreishiki no zu, 1889.
Completed enclosure, shown closed, for Joreishiki no zu, a triptych woodblock print by Adachi Ginkō, 1889. Click image to enlarge.

Angela M. Andres
Assistant Conservator for Special Collections

El álbum costarricense: una incertidumbre que queremos resolver/ A Costa Rican Photograph Album: Help Us Solve the Mystery

April 3rd, 2019

El álbum de fotografía costarricense, MS K35, que se presenta en este blog, es uno de los tantos documentos valiosos que el profesor emérito, Charles L. Stansifer, donó a Kenneth Spencer Research Library hace algunos años. Siendo parte del archivo y de la colección latinoamericana, el álbum acopia un valor doble. Por una parte, es un registro que ofrece evidencia histórica de Costa Rica y por otra, es un documento que identifica al país centroamericano como productor de fotografía y fotoperiodismo desde principios del siglo XX.

Sin embargo, hasta el momento no se tiene la certeza de quién es el personaje central de esta serie de fotografías. Si bien el álbum se compone de dieciséis imágenes que narran la ceremonia fúnebre de algún representante político, no hay evidencia directa que responda al quién pertenecen. Gracias a la presencia militar (imágenes 1 y 2), sobre todo a un pequeño escrito en el que se lee “Bot in lib El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Federico Tinoco 1919,” se tomó como un hecho que las fotografías documentan el funeral de Federico Tinoco Granados, presidente de Costa Rica entre 1917-1919. Si bien el final de la presidencia de Federico Tinoco se da junto a la muerte de su hermano, José Joaquín Tinoco Granados quien fue asesinado el 10 de agosto de 1919, su muerte sucede durante su exilio, en Paris. Así mismo, es a través de la fotografía #25992 (imagen 3) que se puede cuestionar si realmente lo que presenciamos como espectadores es el funeral de alguno de los Tinoco.

Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
1 y 2. La presencia militar en el funeral. / Military presence at the funeral. Click images to enlarge.
Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
3. El Templo de la Música, San José, Costa Rica, construida en 1920. / The Templo de la Música in San José, Costa Rica, which was constructed in 1920. Click image to enlarge.

En tal imagen se puede apreciar el Templo de la Música, inaugurado el 24 de diciembre de 1920, un año después del asesinato. Por otro lado, en otra de las fotografías (ver imagen 4) se puede apreciar que lo que cubre el féretro del sujeto en cuestión es la bandera representante de la cruz roja.  A través de estos hechos y de revisar la historia se puede suponer que el celebrado es o Francisco Aguilar Barquero, que murió en octubre de 1924, o Juan Bautista Quirós Segura, fallecido en noviembre de 1934. Tanto Aguilar Barquero como Quirós Segura fueron presidentes provisionales después del golpe militar que terminó con la presidencia de Tinoco. Cabe también la posibilidad de que se trate de Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro quien en 1885 fue presidente provisional de Costa Rica, mismo año en el que ante la amenaza de guerra tuvo que fundarse la Cruz Roja Costarricense.

Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
4. La bandera de la Cruz Roja cubriendo el féretro. / A Red Cross flag draping the coffin. Click image to enlarge.

Al prestar atención a la arquitectura que aparece en la mayoría de las fotografías, se llega también a la conclusión de que el funeral puede tratarse de Manuel María de Peralta y Alfaro quien muere en agosto de 1930. Don Manuel es un importante personaje diplomático que, aunque fallece en París, su cuerpo fue trasladado a San José de Costa Rica para ser sepultado. Se dice que la ceremonia fúnebre tomó lugar en la Catedral Metropolitana, la cual podemos observar en siete de las imágenes (ver imágenes 5 y 6).

Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
5 y 6. La ceremonia tomó lugar en la Catedral Metropolitana. / The ceremony took place in the Catedral Metropolitana. Click images to enlarge.

A pesar de desconocer para quién es la ceremonia, se sabe con certeza que las fotografías fueron tomadas por algún miembro del estudio de Manuel Gómez Miralles; si no es que por el mismo Miralles, considerado padre del fotoperiodismo costarricense. Además, Gómez Miralles fue uno de los fotógrafos encargados de fotografiar la vida política en Costa Rica y que utiliza la fotografía para dar a conocer la riqueza natural de su país.

Por estas razones, el álbum que hoy le pertenece a esta biblioteca, gracias al profesor emérito Stansifer, tiene un valor histórico y estético para los investigadores interesados en el país de Costa Rica. La riqueza histórica, política y artística no puede quedar paralizada por las incertidumbres que todavía permanecen. El álbum costarricense está disponible en la biblioteca Kenneth Spencer y esperando que algún investigador, al reconocer la arquitectura y alguno de los retratos más visibles (imagen 7), nos proporcione información relevante.

Image from Costa Rican photo album depicting a funeral in San Jose. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.
7. Un orador. / A funeral speaker. Click image to enlarge.

The Costa Rican photo album, MS K35, featured in this current blog post, represents one of the many valuable documents that Emeritus Professor Charles L. Stansifer donated some years ago to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The photo album is housed among the library and archival material and is part of the Latin-American collections. The album has a double value: it offers historic evidence of Costa Rica and, simultaneously, offers insight into Costa Rican documentary photography and photojournalism in the early twentieth century.

Nevertheless, we are unsure of the identity of the central individual in the photographic series. The album contains sixteen photographs that record the funeral of a politician, but we are lacking precise information to identify the deceased. The military scenes in the album (images 1-2) and the presence of a small piece of paper inserted inside the album stating, “Bot in lib El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Federico Tinoco 1919,” led us to consider that the series documents the funeral of Federico Tinoco Granados, president of Costa Rica from 1917-1919. However, if we look closer at the images, especially at image 3, we realize that the funeral took place after the end of his presidency and that the funeral can be neither Tinoco’s nor that of his brother José Joaquin Tinoco Granados, who was murdered on August 10, 1919. The Templo de la Música, which opened on December 24, 1920, and which clearly appears in that image, eliminates José Tinoco Granados as a possibility. It is true that former president Federico Tinoco Granados died in 1931, years after the construction and opening of the Templo de la Música, but he passed away in Paris when he was in exile and his body wasn’t returned to Costa Rica until 1960. In addition to the facts presented by architectural and historical details, we see in another photograph that a Red Cross flag covers the coffin (image 4).

Other prospects include Francisco Aguilar Barquero, who passed away in October 1924, or Juan Bautista Quirós Segura, who perished in November 1934. Both Aguilar Barquero and Quirós Segura assumed the Costa Rican provisional presidency after Tinoco´s resignation and exile following his brother’s assassination. Another candidate is Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro, who was president of Costa Rica in 1885, the same year in which the Costa Rican Red Cross was established. Soto Alfaro died in January 1931. Given that the majority of the photographs display a particular architecture from the early 20th century, it is also plausible that the funeral might be for Manuel María de Peralta y Alfaro, who died in August 1930. Don Manuel was an important diplomat who died in Paris, and whose body was transported to San José, Costa Rica, for burial. The funeral was conducted in the Catedral Metropolitana (images 5-6), a building that can be seen in seven of the photographs.

Despite our uncertainty about whose funeral is pictured, we know that the series of photographs was taken by a member of Manuel Gómez Miralles’s studio, if not Gómez Miralles himself. Gómez Miralles is considered the founder of Costa Rican photojournalism, and was committed to photographing Costa Rican political life and the natural beauty of his home country. 

Our discoveries to date confirm that the album, held in Kenneth Spencer Research Library thanks to the generosity of Emeritus Professor Stansifer, has historic and artistic significance for researchers interested in studying Costa Rica. We hope that readers of this blog post will recognize architectural clues or individuals featured in the photographs (image 7) to help us uncover new and relevant information, including the identity of the funeral’s central individual.

Indira García Varela
Student Assistant
Spanish- and Portguese-Language Materials Preservation Project