Grant to Libraries Will Provide Access to Rare Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan Dramas

June 27, 2018
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries has received a grant of $12,000 from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York. The grant will help the Library catalog and digitize a vast collection of rare Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan dramas.

The collection is particularly significant because it contains approximately 2,000 “comedias sueltas,” according to Elizabeth Ott, Frank Borden Hanes Curator of Rare Books at the Wilson Special Collections Library. Comedias sueltas are pamphlet-length plays printed between 1674 and 1834, Spain’s golden age of drama.

The Pine Tree Foundation supports Comedias Sueltas USA; this digital project brings together information about comedias sueltas in the United States and Canada, including those at Carolina.

Carolina’s collection of comedias sueltas is one of the largest in the United States, according to Ott. She says that the drama collection also contains some 18,000 plays printed after 1830. Some titles are so scarce that no other library is known to hold them.

Since 2014, the Library has been systematically digitizing its Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan dramas. Readers can search for and view the complete digital facsimiles at no charge via the Library’s catalog, the Internet Archive or the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

The grant from the Pine Tree Foundation will advance digitization and allow the Library to add critical metadata that will make it easier to search for and use the digital facsimiles.

“We’re grateful to the Pine Tree Foundation for helping us create a global resource that will benefit scholars around the world,” says Ott.