Archives and collections

Collections on Latin America at the IISH

Workers in Bolivia:  their voices and an analysis of their history, 1965-1996

This 1.20 TB digital collection has been produced by the Latin American Desk and its team in cooperation with the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore (MUSEF, La Paz) where the physical collection is located.  The work consisted of digitizing 1.835 cassettes or audio-tapes during 2012 and 2013.  Each cassette and audio received a detailed archival description through 44 fields allowing sophisticated searches by name, event, date, subject, place, etc.

This important collection is unique in the sense that it preserves, orally, events that have not been registered in written documents.  This means that this is a recovery of endangered archives that represent 30 years of workers memory.

The  material can be divided into two groups:

1.  Workers's Voices:  recordings of Meetings of Peasant Congresses, Mining Congresses, Artisans, Indigenous Movements, Coca Leaf peasants, Left-Wing Political Parties.
Audio tapes recorded the voices of peasants and indigenous people, miners, coca producers (or “cocaleros”), teachers and artisans in their meetings. These different workers have an oral culture and very rarely leave traces in written documents.  This is why these audios are valuable sources and unique documents for the historical research. Thanks to these oral documents, researchers can have access to the context of the period, to the ideology, organization, strategies and socio-political reading that the workers had during the process of restoration of democracy, the period of transition toward a new economic model, the neoliberal model, and the institutional political practice of representative democracy.


  • First Peasant National Congress of Agrarian Reform  (23 tapes, 1983)
  • XXII Mining National Congress of Bolivia’s Mineworkers' Federation (FSTMB) (30 tapes, 1988)
  • Expanded Congress of the Ayllu Chullpa about mine nationalization (19 tapes, 1987)

2.  Voices of leaders and intellectuals: academic events, meetings, TV programs and seminars on different topics

Besides workers' voices, there are also audio tapes that recorded analysis of different public figures and intellectuals from the trade union sector and the political sphere, from the academic area and the left that analyzed different topics of the period. These voices, with macro-social analysis, complement the workers's voices. 


  • Agrarian reform (its progress and limitations) and the economic reality of agriculture and the peasantry (72 tapes,1982-1990)
  • Workers movement and economic crisis (90 tapes from 1982 to 1985)
  • History of the mining world: cooperativism, crisis of Bolivia’s Mining Corporation and the relocated miners problem  (144 tapes from 1985 to 1990)
  • Indigenism, peasant struggles, colonialism and social class (18 tapes of the period1988-1994)

Read more: short version on the IISH website,  large version (.docx)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and workers' education: policies toward Latin America in the 1960-1970. (in Spanish)

This working paper presents a preliminary approach to these themes. It is a description of the materials that can be found in the Archive and Library of the IISH. The main goal is to point out some topics that are not very common with labour historians.

Read more on the IISH website.

Archives and Collections on Labour History in Latin America

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Archives in Latin America and the Caribbean


Argentinian websites with online collections