Latin American collections

latin american art

An extensive collection of materials from the earliest period of printing to the modern day will support your research on all aspect of Latin America.

About the collection

Our Latin American collection is the largest in the UK. It spans the 16th century through to the present day, covering Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Researchers will find sources on European conquest and colonialism, the Catholic Church in the Americas, slavery and abolition, independence movements, and contemporary economy, politics and society.

What is available online?

Readers have access to the Library’s e-resource collections including official statistical databases, Hispanic American Periodical Index Handbook of Latin American Studies and Latin American digitised newspapers 1805-1922,

Researchers will find Latin American-related digital collections through th Endangered Archives Programme website.

You will find images and links to full text copies of printed materials related to Latin America in the British Library’s Flickr account

Researchers can also search for images through our Online Gallery, including the online exhibit on 19th-century movements for independence from Spain; and through our collaborative project with the Institute for Latin American Studies: Liberalism in the Americas.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Researchers will find Latin American related materials in all formats across the British Library. Our manuscripts are particularly strong on European Conquest, colonialism, indigenous languages, slavery, and, to a lesser degree, independence struggles. Our printed collection is strong in the early printing of Latin America, religious materials, natural history and 19th- and 20th-century literature, travelogues and political writings.  We continue to collect contemporary publishing in most fields. Of note is the collection of mainly 19th-century pamphlets, formed by the political journalist Luis López Domínguez (1810-1898) and our collection of Partido dos Trabalhadores pamphlets.

We hold a wide range of Latin American newspapers, mostly from the 19th and early 20th century. While many are short runs they often cover key periods (such as independence or the abolition of slavery) in the history of Latin America. Our maps collection includes some of the earliest representation by Europeans of the Americas as well as maps of colonial expansion, border conflicts, and trade routes. The Bauzá maps collection contains hundreds of maps and statistical texts related to Latin America from the 18th and early 19th century.

We collect contemporary government official publications and statistics from Latin America, as well as the most recent academic publications in the humanities from the region. In addition to photobooks (for example, Sebastião Salgado) we hold a small but significant collection of photographs and illustrations from Latin America. These are predominantly of 19th-century archaeological sites. In the sound archive you can find interviews, music and natural history recordings from and about Latin America.

Published guides to the British Library Latin American Collection

Short-title catalogue of Spanish-American books printed before 1601 now in the British Museum, ed. H. Thomas (1944)

A guide to Latin American and Caribbean census material, a bibliography and union list, ed. C. Travis (British Library, 1990). (Lists census material held in the British Library and elsewhere.)

British union catalogue of Latin Americana (UK, 1967-1988). (Includes British Library acquisitions of materials published in Latin America, covering all forms of printed material.) For consultation in card form at the Institute of Latin American Studies, 35 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ, and published on microfiche by the Inter Documentation Company, Netherlands.

How to guides

How to get a Reader Pass if you are under 18

How to apply for an under 18 Reader Pass

Get a Reader Pass

A guide to how to obtain a British Library Reader Pass to use our Reading Rooms