The center was created in 1985 when USC alumnus Herbert F. Boeckmann II and his wife, Jane, donated 80,000 volumes, over two years, along with a gift to begin cataloging of the collection. These volumes laid the foundation for a collection of Iberian, Latin American, and U.S. Hispanic and Latino materials that continues to expand.
USC had only a small collection of Latin American materials when Boeckmann offered his collection to the university nearly 20 years ago. He was already in possession of many of the volumes that would establish the Boeckmann Center when David Radell, a businessman, bibliophile and former professor of Latin American geography, tipped him off to another great collection of books and asked if Boeckmann would consider purchasing and donating them to USC.
Since Boeckmann’s gift, USC’s collection of Iberian and Latin American materials has grown to become one of the top 25 of its kind in the nation. Because the materials are multidisciplinary in nature, volumes on such subjects as history, literature, politics, cinema and art are located in subject libraries throughout the USC campus.
The oldest item in the center is an early Spanish bibliography that dates back to 1607.
One of the center’s most important benefactors is L.A. Murillo, a USC alumnus and UC Berkeley emeritus professor of Spanish literature and language. Although he donated his 4,000-volume collection on Cervantes and Spanish Golden Age (Siglo de Oro) literature to USC before the center was created, he continues to support the annual acquisition of new items.
The center recently acquired such noteworthy items as a complete microfilm collection of the Spanish-language Los Angeles weekly newspaper 20 de Mayo and a rare 1835 proclamation by Mexican President Miguel Barragan that raised the status of Los Angeles from that of a pueblo, or village, to that of a ciudad, or city.