The Belfer Latin American 45s Collection contains unique commercial recordings from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. Primarily sourced from 45-rpm discs (with a few 78s and other formats as well), the collection encompasses a wide range of musical genres including merengue, bolero, guaracha, cha-cha-chá, pachanga, mambo and many others. The collection also includes a large selection of salsa recordings from the 1970s reflecting the origins and development of that significant genre.

In the spring of 2017, the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center began a major digitization project to preserve and make accessible this unique collection. Images of all record labels and covers in the collection, as well as basic metadata about each recording, are made publicly available online. New audio files will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis as recordings are digitized over the next several years.

Recordings made available in the digital collection were selected from the Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings at Syracuse University Libraries. Max and Joseph Bell, the owners of the Bell Music Box, a New York City record store, were avid collectors of Latin and Caribbean Music. In 1963, Syracuse University acquired the entire inventory of the Bell Music Box store. The acquisition constitutes the bulk of Latin American 45-rpm discs in the Belfer Audio Laboratory archive. Recordings issued after 1963 were acquired separately through a combination of gifts and purchases but were added to this collection based on content and format similarity.

The Belfer Latin American 45s Collection was made possible through a collaboration of staff from the Special Collections Research Center and the Department of Digital Stewardship at Syracuse University Libraries. Special assistance with disc imaging and label transcription was provided by AVP.

Staff contributors: James Meade, audio transfers; Michael Dermody, project coordination; Sophie Dong, cataloging; Chelsea Hoover, cataloging; Seán Horsford, audio file management and player configuration; Kiley Jolicoeur, metadata; Déirdre Joyce, metadata and project coordination; Meara Mosny, graphic design; Suzanne Preate, access configuration and web design (Quartex).

Student and intern contributors:  Stephanie Bailey, Lily Brandt, Chuanjie Jian, Kiley Jolicoeur, Travis Milliman, Mikayla Ploof, Walker Rutter-Bowman, Bronte Kincaid Schmit, Erin Smith, Yang Yang.