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Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno Collection

Identifier: MA.00185

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of books, magazines, manuscripts, speeches, news clippings and photographs that document Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno's career as a Cuban writer and teacher, chiefly from the 1940s through the 1950s. All of the materials are in Spanish.


  • Creation: 1909-2002


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno Collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno Collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno was born at an old plantation in Ranchuelo, Cuba, in 1899. According to his grandson Ruben, it was there that his talents as a writer and teacher first emerged when he improvised a school to teach others how to read and write. Throughout his life, Manuel Cuéllar held various jobs in different parts of Cuba. He worked in the sugar cane fields, was a chauffeur, stevedore, teacher, and reader for other workers at tobacco and shoe factories in the Santa Clara and Cienfuego provinces. As a vulcanizer in Camagüey, Cuéllar met the poet Nicolas Guillén, and as a member of the Federación Nacional de Sociedades (National Federation of Societies) in the late 1920s, he engaged in social work also in the neighboring Haiti. In the early 1930s, Cuéllar joined the Communist Party in Cuba and fought against President Gerardo Machado, being arrested after seizing the village of Fomento with Gerardo Meneses. In 1936, however, he decided to devote himself completely to journalism and social work.

Through his writings and public service, Manuel Cuéllar became a voice against racial discrimination in Cuban politics, art and culture. He used to say that "he was Maceo, not Martí," identifying himself with Antonio Maceo, the black military commander who engaged in both the 1868 and 1895 wars of independence in Cuba. Unlike many black activists of his time, Cuéllar promoted the African influence on Cuban culture. In Havana, for example, he founded the radio program Sensemayá, featuring African drums for the first time along with presentations by Eusébia Cosme, Juan Luís Martín, Nicolás Guillén and Fernando Ortiz. He wrote columns for many publications such as the magazines Revista Bohemia, Renovación and Sensemayá, and the newspapers Avance, Pueblo, Tiempo en Cuba, El Noticiero and El Día. Among his most important books are Unas Cuantas Verdades (1944), Código de Moral del Sargento Político (1948), Leituras Criollas (1955), and Doce Muertes Famosas (1957). Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno died in Havana in 1988.


1.5 Linear feet (1 archives box, 2 flat photographs boxes)

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


Books, magazines, manuscripts, speeches, news clippings and photographs that document Manuel Cuéllar Vizcaíno's career as a Cuban writer and teacher, chiefly from the 1940s through the 1950s. All of the materials are in Spanish.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Published Writings, 1940s-1957
  2. Series 2: Manuscripts, 1953-2002
  3. Series 3: Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, 1946-1958
  4. Series 4: Photographs, 1909-1972

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased for the Latino Collection through the mediation of Professor Ilán Stavans in 2003. The documents were originally acquired by the scholar Ivor Miller during a research trip to Havana, Cuba, where he interviewed Manuel Cuéllar's grandson, Ruben Perez-Cuéllar.

Related Materials

Latino Collection:

Antonio Benítez Rojo Papers, 1957-2002 Alicia Borinsky Papers, 1972-2005 Sandra Cisneros Collection, 1984-2001 Jeffrey Davidow Papers, 1993-2003 Martín Espada Papers, 1957-2003 Fayad Jamis Collection, 1959-1987 Ivor L. Miller Papers, 1900-2005 (bulk 1990-2005) Ilan Stavans, Videotapes of "Conversations with Ilan Stavans," 2001-2006

Other Collections:

Marshall Bloom (AC 1966) Alternative Press Collection, ca. 1967-1992

Processing Information

Procesed by Isadora Moura Mota, January 2009. In processing, the collection was organized by subject into four series which cover the period 1909-2002. Most of the information in this finding aid comes from Manuel Cuéllar's notes and his grandson Ruben's recollections.

Isadora Moura Mota
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299