Primary Sources: Official Documents
The Organization of American States Documents
Laws and Statutes
International agencies besides the Pan American Union published material on Cuban women. Their work tended to draw cross-cultural conclusions.
Materials on Women in the Cuban Wars of Independence
Literature on women during the Cuban Wars of Independence is largely biographical and lacks analysis of women's contributions to the struggle against Spain. Two exceptions are Paul Estrade, “Les Clubs Feminins dans Ie Parti Révolutionaire Cubain (1892–1898),” Femmes des Amériques II, series B. Vol. II (Toulouse, France: Publication Services of the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, 1986), 85–105; and Ann Waggoner, “The Role of Women· in the Cuban Wars of Independence, 1868–1898,” Master's thesis, Arizona State University, 1988. Estrade's is a statistical study of women's work in revolutionary clubs that enumerates which clubs were run by women, their positions within the umbrella organization, and a review of the activities of several of the clubs. Waggoner's thesis, based upon biographical sources, assesses the various activities women undertook during the wars and compares activities of the Ten Years War with those of the War of 1895. Nancy A. Hewitt gave a paper on Cuban patriots in Tampa and Ibor City between 1895 and 1901 at the American Historical Association meeting in Washington, D.C., December 1987. Using club records and newspaper accounts, Hewitt demonstrates how women defied U.S. disapproval of unionization to enunciate the social reform objectives of José Martí and how they raised funds for the independence movement.
Primary documents for women independence activists include:
Cuban feminists used the printed word to convey their arguments and objectives. They published their ideas in popular newspapers, feminist journals, memoirs of conferences, literature, and organizational annual reports. Most of these primary documents are found only in the José Martí National Library and the Cuban National Archives. I have microfilmed seventeen rolls of film containing these sources, and Scholarly Resources, Inc. has distribution rights for the films. The Cuban National Archives has the personal papers of Ofelia Dominguez Navarro and María Collado, which contain personal correspondence and memorabilia from feminist gatherings. It also has substantial documents on the life of María Luisa Dolz, which are being compiled by Dania de la Cruz, Cuban archivist, for a biographical study. Ana Betancourt's speech is also in the archives, as is scattered information on the Alianza Nacional Feminista.
Good tools for beginning a study on Cuban feminism are:
Feminist Organizational Records
Articles and Statements about Feminism by Cuban Feminists
The issue of women's changing social, economic, cultural, and political roles fascinated intellectuals and the general literate public. Radical feminists were often writers who, from the comfort of their studies, wrote stunning essays on the direction of feminism and criticisms of activist strategy. These thinkers wrote for the popular press and therefore influenced basic premises of the women's movement. Moderate feminists often responded to radical change in print, thus opening a heated debate for at least fifteen years. Between 1926 and 1940 Bohemia and Carteles gave regular space to radical feminist journalists Ofelia Rodríguez Acosta and Mariblanca Sabas Alomá, respectively. A number of feminist writers published in newspapers such as El Mundo, El País) and several short-run periodicals including El Avance Criollo, Ahora, and Alma Mater. After 1940 feminists continued to write about the movement in an attempt to preserve its history. Rich sources for feminist rhetoric appear in feminist journals (cited above) and the following published materials:
Articles and Statements about Cuban Feminism by Men
Men also wrote about Cuban feminism, often from a different perspective than that of feminists. Although they were not always conservative, men often wished to preserve the sanctity of the home by maintaining the image of the protected and dependent woman. They expressed a respect for women which came from their reverence for women's moral superiority. Some men attacked feminism for attempting to destroy women's social virtue; others tried to endorse the woman's movement and tie it into another political effort, such as the socialist or trade union movements. Few men supported a feminist struggle against the Cuban patriarchy. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring was an exception to this rule.
Prescriptive Literature for Women
The turmoil of the early republican period created confusion about acceptable behavior for women. Women still wanted to marry and have families, but they were also challenged to find work and enter politics. Advice columns existed in most of the popular journals such as Bohemia, Carteles, and Vanidades. To contrast with these modern columns, one might look in nineteenth-century journals for women, such as Album Cubano de to bueno y lo bello, edited. by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda Domitila García de Coronado, a nineteenth-century poet, wrote a book of advice to her daughter entitled Consejos y Consuelos de Una Madre a su Hija, which won literary prizes in 1881, 1889, 1890, and 1900.
Feminist Literary Writing
A number of feminists wrote novels, poetry, essays, and journal articles. Some considered themselves writers; others believed they wrote only to make a point and not to create art. Their works were mostly ignored or forgotten. Critics were kinder to women writers in the nineteenth century, and their art as well as analysis of their pieces abound.
Legal Treatises and Documents
Creating law generated discussion from legal theorists and legislators about the nature of law in general as well as about the suitability of specific legal changes. These treatises provided insight into legal as well as social considerations identified by lawmakers.