Spanish Students Translate Posters, Artifacts from the Sandinista Revolution
When Dr. Walter Petry, assistant professor of history, emeritus, traveled to Nicaragua between 1982 and 1992, he brought back to Fairfield University materials that illuminated the Sandinista Revolution, which overtook the 50-year Somoza dictatorship.
The revolution was led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and took place between 1979 and 1990. The goal of overtaking the dynasty, which had exploited the land of Nicaragua and its peasant majority, was to create a new revolutionary social order based on the Nicaraguan majority.
During his many trips to the country, Dr. Petry brought back books and posters that illuminated the Sandinista revolutionary project and donated them to the DiMenna-Nyselius Library. The library, in turn, made the materials available for scholarly research through their archives and online institutional repository, Digital Commons.
For non-Spanish speakers, however, viewing the materials could be a challenge because of the language barrier. However, as part of October’s Open Access Week, which encourages free, immediate, online access to scholarly research, students from Dr. Jerelyn Johnson’s Spanish classes translated the materials into English. Library staff then uploaded them to the digital archive.
Jackie Kremer, head of library academic partnerships and assessment, said that this was a unique collaboration between the library and the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students to engage with the documents.
“As part of Open Access Week, we considered how we might improve access points to The Walter J. Petry Collection, as well as deepen student learning by engaging with the Collection. We were excited to collaborate with Dr. Johnson and her advanced Spanish students. These students will be active participants in the Open Access movement by helping the Library to translate the posters in Digital Commons.”
Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui, associate professor of communication, was also present to talk to the students about the importance of making the collection accessible for English speakers because the Petry Collection is the most complete and diverse collection in the country.
Elise Bochinski, access services librarian and archivist, and Dominic LaFlamme, senior reference librarian and instruction coordinator, presented to the students information on the collection, how the documents should be handled, and how to submit their translations to the library.
The collaboration between the library and the College was beneficial for all, Kremer noted. Students were able to deepen their understanding of the history of Nicaragua and improve their Spanish reading and translation skills, while the library was able to add their work to the collection, improving it for the Fairfield community as well as the larger scholarly world.
Top photo by Hayley Battaglia, MFA, Circulation Staff/Social Media, DiMenna-Nyselius Library