Special Collections and the Pan Am Historical Foundation are thrilled to announce that the 2014 Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant has been awarded to Hadassah St. Hubert. Presented by the Pan Am Historical Foundation, the award supports scholarly research using the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records housed at the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections, and honors two of Pan Am’s most avid historians.
A doctoral candidate and McKnight doctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of Miami and Assistant Editor for the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), Ms. St. Hubert’s unique research interest and well thought out plan for using the collection made her proposal the strongest among many. Titled “Visions of a Modern Nation: Haiti at the World’s Fairs,” her dissertation will examine the way Haitian governments from the late nineteenth century onwards represented the country in world’s fairs and expositions. Her research with the Pan Am Records will focus on two fairs: the International Exposition to commemorate the Bicentennial of the founding of Port-au-Prince, lasting from December 1949 to June 1950, and the Tricinquatenaire in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Haiti’s independence, held in 1953.
The relationship between Haiti and Pan Am is one of many examples of the impact the company had not only on international tourism, but also on the formation of national identities, and the two fairs that Ms. St. Hubert will be focusing on provide powerful examples of this. Promotional materials, including advertisements and photographs, will enable her to assess how Haiti’s image was constructed and the impact the fairs had on the nation’s image abroad. Images of the exposition and folkloric performances will aid in her understanding of any continuities or departures between these expositions and others in which Haiti participated abroad. And diplomatic correspondence will provide direct insight into tourist traffic and Haiti’s “Golden Age” of tourism.
To give you some more insight into Ms. St. Hubert, we asked her four questions about her research, her use of archives, and memories of Pan Am:
1. What is your favorite thing in (or about) Special Collections? Is there a specific collection, item, person?
My favorite items in Special Collections are the Caribbean and South American Ephemera collection and the Pan American World Airways Inc. records. Beatrice Skokan pointed out these collections early on during my research and they have become quite invaluable sources on Haitian tourism in the 1950s.
2. Tell us about an archival “jolt” moment. Think of an archival jolt as one of those times when you are working with a collection and you feel a strong intellectual or emotional connection with the information. You can also think of it as an “aha” moment – where you find that 1 piece of information you are looking for, or where you find a connection between subjects and projects that you were not expecting.
My archival “jolt” moment was when I discovered that Pan Am had increased its advertising of Haiti from less than $50,000 in the late 1940s to $1,000,000 by the mid-1950s. I had always heard that Haiti was a popular destination for U.S. tourists, including Bill and Hilary Clinton in the 1970s. This evidence shows that Pan Am truly believed that Haiti could be a year round resort for tourists and they invested heavily to make this happen.
3. How do you use Special Collections? This is a functional question – when looking for materials, do you read the finding aid and browse, do you keyword search, are you looking for specific kinds of materials (photographs, objects, books) or certain classes of documents (letters, advertisements, contracts, meeting minutes)
When using Special Collections, I use the finding aids and conduct keyword searches especially for ephemera material relating to Haiti. Since my project looks at the increasing role of tourism of Haiti, I analyze materials such as photographs, letters, advertisements, as well as government documents.
4. Do you have any memories of Pan Am?
My memories of Pan Am are very limited, since I was young when the company ceased operations. I do remember the iconic Pan Am travel bag that the flight attendants used.