WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
21 Feb 2008 | News

WOLA Donates Historical Archives to Duke University Libraries

             The Washington Office on Latin America announced today that it will donate its historical archives, which document WOLA’s role as an influential voice for putting human rights and justice at the center of U.S. policy toward Latin America, to the Archive for Human Rights at the Duke University Libraries in Durham, North Carolina.

             Under an agreement reached this week by the two organizations, WOLA will transfer its inactive physical archives including memoranda, correspondence, and publications dating back to WOLA’s founding in 1974 to the Duke library, where they will be available to researchers, students and the general public.  

             “The history of WOLA is the history of human rights advocacy on Latin America in the United States,” said WOLA Executive Director Joy Olson. “Through our archives, researchers will see how WOLA, and the human rights community at large, became vital voices for ending impunity and strengthening respect for the rule of law in the Americas, while also raising the U.S. public’s awareness about the effects of our policies in Latin America over the last three decades.”

             “We’re thrilled at the prospect of Duke University holding our primary-source materials, given Duke’s outstanding library facilities and its tradition of exceptional scholarship on human rights and Latin America,” she added.   

             WOLA’s archives contain crucial documents in the organization’s research, advocacy and monitoring roles regarding major issues and events since the 1970s, including the Contra war in Nicaragua, U.S. funding for anti-drug efforts in the Andes, the 1980s civil war in El Salvador, and the Fujimori government in Peru. 

             “The history of modern Latin America is vividly reflected in the ongoing struggles for human rights, and WOLA has been at the forefront of the battle for social and economic justice for over 30 years,” said Deborah Jakubs, the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian at Duke.  

            “It is a privilege for the Duke University Libraries to become the home for the WOLA archives, and especially appropriate, given the university's strong commitment to Latin America and civil and human rights.  We welcome the opportunity to preserve and provide access for students and researchers to this remarkably rich and diverse set of materials," added Jakubs.

             The agreement with Duke University Libraries will provide for the transfer of about 100 boxes of inactive documents and papers from all facets of WOLA’s work.  Certain internal documents including personnel files are not covered by the agreement and will remain at WOLA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

             WOLA is the leading U.S. human rights organization promoting human rights, social justice and democracy in Latin America. Strong partnerships with colleagues throughout the region inform WOLA’s analysis and foreign policy proposals. Policy makers, elected officials, the media and activists in both North and Latin America look to WOLA for accurate, timely analysis of U.S. policy and developments in the region.

             WOLA was created a year after the 1973 military coup d’etat against the Allende government of Chile, when U.S. activists, church leaders and ordinary citizens came together to push for change in U.S. policies toward Latin America.

             Today WOLA has a broad agenda that reflects the realities and challenges facing Latin America, ranging from gang violence to organized crime to the effects of free-trade agreements. It works to raise awareness among the U.S. public about how immigration, trade and other issues of concern are linked to problems of poverty and inequality in Latin America.


Roger Atwood,

Communications Director, WOLA

Ratwood@wola.org; (202) 797 2171


Ilene Nelson,

Communications Director, Duke University Libraries

Ilene.nelson@duke.edu; (919) 660 5816

(Illustration above: A view of La Paz, Bolivia, 2004)