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The David Masnata Collection at the Richter Library, University of Miami

Visitor Hints


The following very informative first hand account of her 1995 visit to the Masnata Collection at the Otto Richter Memorial Library of the University of Miami is posted by permission of the author, Margarita Hannen. If you know of any changes that have occured since then, please e-mail us at the address at the bottom of the page, so we can update the information.


Visitor Hints (14-Apr-95)

  1. Spanish is the prevailing language. There are some books in French, English, German and Latin.

  2. It is very important to call ahead: to check if THIS SECTION will be open the day you plan to go,(usual hours 4:00p.m.),but also to have a pass ready at the front desk. Call Gladys Ramos (305)284-3247. If you know the code numbers for what you want to look for, the staff will have them ready for you, again saving time.

  3. There are two indices. One for manuscripts and one for books. I copied the one for books. This enabled me to check, what I wanted to look up, what I did look up and what I found. I did not bite the bullet & copy until the very end. If time is of essence its worth doing. Also since I live in California, I have now a guide for future reference.

    n.b. An index to the Masnata Collection is now available on-line at the following URL:

  4. Parking is difficult. You really should be there by 8:00 a.m. or shortly thereafter. Bring lots and lots of quarters. Meters are for 2 hours. I can't remember how much exactly but maybe a $1.00 an hour in quarters? I found it easier to be droped off and picked up.

  5. Students will copy the documents you request. MAKE SURE you check so you get exactly what you wanted, that it is readable etc. I found errors, some illegible and one important entry missing.

  6. You will be given a locker for purses, briefcases,equipment etc. You are only allowed pencils and filing cards. No note pads, binders or pens. I found an eraser helpful.

  7. On the second floor there are also periodicals & books, but not genealogy per se. I would go there after the Masnata Collection section closed. Since I did not have enough time to go through the stacks on different floors, I limited myself to what was on that floor. This is very time consuming. You are only allowed two books at a time. Often there was only one person to help you (you need to request, can't browse the stacks here). You need to make your own copies and, you often have to wait in line for the copier too. Unless you are planning to buy a card, make sure you have enough change. I did find some information here, It is worth a run.

General Comments on the Masnata Collection

It is extensive. It takes hours just to go through the two indices. If you have some kinship with the Masnata family, and there are lots of family names, you will be in great luck. Although he, (David) was a friend of my family we had no relationship whatsoever so I was not lucky in looking through the manuscript boxes. Please don't let me discourage anyone, there is a tremendous amount of research in these boxes done on a great many families and it's certainly worth a look, specially if your family is a very old Cuban one. Mine were relative newcomers both branches going there in the early 1800's. My time span was more limited.

I was luckier with the books. If you are planning on following up with research in Spain this is a gold mine. Found lots of indices with references I can use. This narrows and helps your search. There are many articles on how to do research, sources etc. in Spain, Hidalguia etc. There is a tremendous amount of information on the Basque and northern regions from which luckily my family came.

I did copy a booklet which shows the Basque "caserios" and what names originate in each.

For anyone a desdendant from the Montañas the following is a great source: "Nobleza, Hidalguia, Profesiones y Oficios en la Montaña, segun los Padrones del Catastro del Marques de la Ensenada" compiled by Tomas Maza Solano, Cronista Oficial de Santander, Secretario de Estudios Montañeses. (An VIII century census. It is fascinating as it not only gives names, ages but also if noble and occupations. I copied the indices on PLACES, but I only copied the NAME index for "my" names. This includes the Valle de Penamellera and Valle de Penarrubia and a few other specific municipios which listed my family name. The Spanish "Hidalguia" revista ran a number of articles through several years, 1978, 1979, 1980 listing LAST NAMES in the Catastro and places of origin. I believe this magazine can be found in many libraries in the U.S You must be careful, however, to check all the spellings. - mine starting with a V is interchangeable with B and H. This I did not discover until my last day and now I have to go back and redo a lot of work.

I found lots of general information on my family, more than specifics, but did find some valuable entries and learned a lot. I knew where my family came from in Spain and approximate dates of birth, that helped me. Even so there is so much information available that I did not finish. I spend four solid days working at a furious pace, having articles copied I wished to read later(not to waste time) entries in indices etc., and hours another day looking for my missing entry. For specific Cuban entries, again since my family was fairly "young" in Cuba I had luck on the second floor, the LDS library on Flager St. and in the book stores.

This Collection is a MUST for all interested in Cuban genealogy.

Margarita Hannen


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The Masnata Collection - Updated 21-Jun-2007

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