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Public Works of Cuba Photographs

Identifier: MSS 0351

Scope and Content

The collection houses thirty photographs and three lantern slides that were published between 1898 and 1935. The glass plates were published by the Keystone View Company and include scenes from Cuba's first years as a republic. Nineteen of the thirty photographs were published by the Secretaría de Obras Públicas when Machado was president, and Dr. Carlos Miguel de Céspedes, secretario (secretary) of Obras Públicas. These photographs show images of the state infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, roads, and buildings. The collection also includes four photographs with French annotations and two pages from a scrapbook with mounted photographs.


  • Creation: 1898-1935
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1929-1935


Language of Materials

Includes materials written in Spanish and English.


This collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

General Gerardo Machado y Morales (1871-1939) was the fifth president of Cuba (1924-1933). He was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and during the war for independence he served in the Ejército Libertador. His first term was characterized by emphasis in constructing and renovating state infrastructure as well as improving the education system. During his regime, the Secretaría de Obras Públicas (Ministry of Public Works) built Cuba's Carretera Central (central highway), the Capitolio (National Capitol Building), Paseo de Martí (Martí Promenade), the Malecón (sea boulevard), several buildings at the Universidad de La Habana, schools, and hospitals, such as the Instituto del Cáncer, as well as aqueducts and government buildings. Machado combined a genuine support for U.S. interests while defending the idea of Cuban sovereignty by taxing American capital investments. He promoted investments in tourism, industry, and mining.

His second term began in 1929 and ended in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression and a movement of political opposition that developed into a prolonged and violent period of civil war. The repression of Machado against such opposition was brutal. By early 1933, the confrontation between Machado's government (the police and the army) and the political opposition (students, organized labor, and secret societies of middle class professionals) had grown in violence and frequency. On May 8, 1933 Sumner Welles was sent to Havana by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to oversee the Cuban situation. Not being able to influence Machado to reinstate the constitutional guarantees that he had removed in June 1931, Welles negotiated an end to Machado's presidency in July 1933 and ushered in the age of Fulgencio Batista.


0.10 Linear feet


This collection includes photographs and lantern slides depicting public works and landscapes from Cuba. Most of the photographs have the seal of the Gobierno de la República de Cuba, specifically the Secretaría de Obras Públicas.


The collection is arranged by provenance and format into four series: "Series 1: Lantern slides," "Series 2: Secretaría de Obras Públicas," "Series 3: French produced photographs," and "Series 4: Other images of Havana."

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased in 2009.

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of items in the Public Works of Cuba Photographs are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the Public Works of Cuba Photographs
Finding aid created by Wondy Joseph
January 2016
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America