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FIU library acquires Cuban genealogy collection

Much to the excitement of the Cuban-American community, the Florida International University library has acquired the Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza collection. Even more thrilling is that the university is digitizing the collection and will make it available through the library’s website.

Mendoza, a law graduate of the University of Havana, left Cuba in 1960. For 20 years, he was a liaison officer for the Organization of American States. “Hundreds of people sought his help and sent him what they knew of their family heritage, and those genealogies enriched his huge collection,” says Mariela Fernandez, president of the Cuban Genealogy Club of Miami.

That group’s vice president, Lourdes del Pino, describes the collection as “by far the most complete and sought-after Cuban and Hispanic genealogy collection.”

The university says the collection consists of more than 5,000 volumes and 900 unpublished letters with Cuban, Latin American and even European genealogical information.

Manuscripts and periodicals, as well as 17th and 18th century civil and sacramental documents, help make up the collection.

The Cuban Genealogy Club of Miami has been organizing and digitizing the 200-box collection, which reportedly contains 2,400 surnames. The university has not given a target date for the digital publication.

* * * * *

For those genealogists who’ve decided not to attack the recently-released 1940 census until it is indexed, it might be time to dive in with those of us who couldn’t wait and who’ve searched without the indexes.

A release from the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project says volunteers have indexed six states in less than two months. That’s quite impressive. Project spokesmen say at this rate, volunteers will have the entire census indexed by late summer.

Indexing is complete for Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming, but at this time only Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia are searchable online.

Readers can track the indexing progress with an interactive map at

* * * * *If you don’t know Elizabeth Shown Mills, it’s time to meet her. One of America’s most knowledgeable and respected genealogists, she is most respected for her book “Evidence Explained,” recognized by professional and board-certified genealogists as the definitive word on how to document genealogical research.

Shown Mills has written, edited and translated 13 books and more than 500 articles. Many fans religiously read every word she writes and attend as many lectures as they can (she’s presented more than a thousand).

I remember vividly when a Tampa friend of mine attended her first national conference. We bumped into each other as we both scurried to our next lectures, and she cattily said, “Everyone is raving about this Elizabeth. Who is she? Everyone talks as if she’s the queen or something.” I laughed and told her to come see me after she’d heard her lecture.

When she spotted me the next day, my friend sported a sheepish grin but quickly gushed, “She is fabulous!” Another fan created.

Shown Mills’ website, Historic Pathways (viewable at, is bound to create even more fans. Those who haven’t “met” her will enrich their genealogical research by reading reprints of many of her articles.

So clear a week or so from your calendar, mosey on over to her website, and meet this remarkable lady who truly knows the secrets to opening sticky genealogical doors.

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