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UMass Amherst Libraries

Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies

This is a guide to resources in Latin American Studies in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Reference resources



Reference books are usually encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, atlases, etc. They are intended to provide quick, reliable information, summaries of complex matters, and, very importantly, bibliographies--suggestions for futher reading.

These reference materials are invariably written by experts in their fields, so they are more trustworthy than Wikipedia--all have gone through a process of editorial review. For an illustrated explanation, see the home page presentation, "What is a referred or scholarly article?"

Reference sources in Latin American Studies


Below are some examples of atlases of Latin America in the collection. This list is not exhaustive; to see more, do a subject search in the catalog for the names of the country or region you wish to research, and append the word "maps". For example: Argentina--Maps or Latin America--Maps.

Atlas Nacional de Cuba (G1605.N32 1970 Oversize)
Historical snapshot of Cuba in the 1960s; thorough coverage of "geoeconomics," land use, sugar cultivation, etc.

Atlas of Mexico  (G1545.A9 1975 Oversize)
Produced at the University of Texas Austin, excellent maps of agriculture, manufacturing, population, etc.

Latin American History: A Teaching Atlas  (Ref G1541.S1L6 1983)
Superb source of easily-reproducible maps of the region as a whole and individual countries. Geography, agriculture, industry, population, archaeology and history are stressed.


The library has a large number of relevant bibliographies on topics in Latin American Studies. Below are a few examples. To locate national bibliographies, do a subject search in the catalog; for example,  Chile--Bibliography.


Bibliography of Latin American and Caribbean Bibliographies  (Ref  Z1601.A2 B52)
Long, multi-volume series compiled under the auspices of SALALM. Excellent source for bibliographies in the social sciences and humanities.


The Complete Caribbeana, 1900-1975: A Bibliographic Guide to the Scholarly Literature  (Ref Z1595.Z63)
Voluminous 4-volume work, covering travel, archaeology, biography, history, race relations, etc. No annotations.


Venezuelan History: A Comprehensive Working Bibliography  (Ref Z1911.L64)
Bibliography organized by sections: general reference, history, church, Bolivar, civilization, petroleum, urbanization.


 Biographical Resources

The library has a large number of biographies for Latin American countries. Below are a few examples. To locate national biographies, do a subject search in the catalog; for example, Columbia--Biography.


Diccionario biográfico del Perú contemporáneo: siglo XX  (Ref F3405.D544 2004)
Two-volume work on prominent Peruvians of the twentiethth century.


Enciclopedia hondureña ilustrada: de personajes históricos y figuras contemporáneos (CT602.E53 1994)
Four-volume, semi-contemporary work with short biographies, accompanied by photos and paintings.


Dicionário mulheres do Brasil: de 1500 até a atualidade  (F2505.D53 2000)
Short paragraphs on some 1,500 prominent Brazilian women, contemporary and historical, many with photos or illustrations.


Quién es quién en la América del descubrimiento (E123.G625 2003)
A-Z mini-biographies of the leading conquistadors, explorers, captives, and resisters in Hispanic America.


For reference materials on individual Latin American and Caribbean nations, click here.



 Historical Dictionary of Ancient Mesoamerica  (Ref F1434.H57 2000)
A-Z dictionary of sites, cultures, deities, rulers, etc.


Latin America: A Political Dictionary  (Ref F1406.R67 1992)
Contains definitions of political and economic terms (latindunia, peronismo, development theory) as well as entries on political ideologies, movements, leaders, the military, and U.S.-Latin American relations.


Selected Encyclopedias
South America, Central America and the Caribbean  (Ref F1406.5.S68)
Region-specific volume culled from the Europa World Year Book. Contains valuable statistical information as well as essays on politics and the economy of Latin American and Caribbean nations, with fresh material not in the Europa World Year Book.


Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia  (Ref F1218.6 A73 2001)
A-Z  volume of sites, cultures, museums, and artifacts, with essays ranging from a paragraph to several pages. Good bibliographies accompany most entries. Well-illustrated with drawings and maps.


Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America   (Ref F1406.C36 ) 1992
Excellent standard Cambridge guide to culture and history.


Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Cultures  (Ref F1406.E515 2000)
A-Z dictionary in 3 volumes, with short entries on people, eras, and themes, including films, books, even political parties. Many entries have "Further Readings" appended.


Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture  (Ref F1406.E53 1996)
Excellent 5-volume work by top scholars in the field on wide-ranging aspects of Mexico, Central, and South America. An authoritative source.
2008 edition online here.

Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics (Ref F1410.E56 2002)
Country-by-country review of political parties, personalities, and movements. Includes bibliographies and Web entires.


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures (Ref F1218.6.O95 2000)
Three-volume work on ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America.


For national encyclopedias, click here.

Indexes & Guides
Latin American Newspapers in United States Libraries (Ref Z6947.L36)
Although dated (1968), this union list compiled in the Serial Division, Library of Congress, is still a superb source for locating Latin American newspapers on microfilm. Use in conjunction with WorldCat. 


A Reference Guide to Latin American History (Ref F1410.H463 2000)
Short entries provide a guide on historical events and people in Latin American history, from the pre-Columbian era through the 1980s. Entries also include revolutionary movements, culture and religion, and biographical information.


Fuentes manuscritas para la historia de Iberoamérica: guía de instrumentos de investigación. (Z1609.H53H55)
Guide to "instruments of investigation"; i.e., published bulletins and articles on archives at all levels, local and national.

The Hispanic World: A Guide to Photoreproduced Manuscripts From Spain in the Collections of the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. (Z2701.C7J55 1994)
Massive (1000+ pages) guide to institutions in the U.S. (plus Guam and Puerto Rico) which hold microfilm from the Archivo General de las Indias (AGI) and other colonial archives.