An exhibit of South American artifacts and rare books about South American liberator Gen. Jose de San Martin will be on display at the USC Boeckmann Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies through September.
Over 200 rare and out-of-print books about the general, valued at approximately $10,000 but considered priceless by researchers, have been donated to the university by the San Martin Society of San Fernando Valley.
Dedicated to the memory of San Martin (1778-1850)--who led the movement for liberation from Spain in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru--the society has collected hundreds of additional volumes about the general that it will donate to USC in the near future, said Mario Passo, president of the society.
The San Martin books will be added to the collection of publications housed at the Boeckmann Center, said curator Barbara Robinson.
"The books about San Martin will help us to continue to build on our collection of books about Argentina, which is a major center of publishers and writers," Robinson said.
"To a book seller, these books would be worth about $10,000. But they're worth a lot more in terms of research value because you can't buy them anywhere."
The center also was established through the generosity of Valley residents Bert and Jane Boeckmann of Northridge, who donated about 80,000 volumes valued at $1.7 million in 1985, Robinson added.
The original donation of books was made in June, but Passo said the society will make donations to the university on an ongoing basis as it collects information from South American government agencies and academic institutions. For example, the society recently received nearly 300 books about San Martin from Argentina Consul General Luis Maria Kreckler, Passo said.
"We thought it was a good idea to donate these books to the university so all the people who want to know about San Martin and South America can go to one location and learn about him," said Passo. "The society and the university are both cultural institutions, and we need to share information, culture and services."