Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2008 Newsletter

Philanthropy at the Ransom Center

Red door with white handprints. Click to enlarge.

Susan Meiselas, "Mano Blanca," signature of
the death squads left on the door of a slain
peasant organizer
, Arcatao, Chalatenango
Province. Magnum Photos.

Crowd of people. Click to enlarge.

Harry Mattison, After bomb explosion near
cathedral, people try to escape being
trampled
, March 30, 1980.

The human struggle knows no boundaries, and it is never-ending. Those and other certainties were inescapable in a Ransom Center photography exhibition last spring. Visitors were invited to go "Inside El Salvador," which featured more than 70 black-and-white images by internationally renowned photojournalists on assignment in the 1980s for LIFE Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, Paris Match, Stern, Time, and U.S. News and World Report. Starting with El Salvador's 1979 coup, photographers documented the country's 12-year civil war as events such as the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero drew worldwide attention.

Generous donations of the prints by the photographers and the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation to the Ransom Center made this exhibition possible.

Meyerson was contacted by a friend familiar with the work of Susan Meiselas, who had prints featured in the exhibition, and thought it a good fit with the Ransom Center.

"Susan Meiselas is one of today's best photographers," said Meyerson. "Her work with Magnum Photos holds a special place in the history of photography. When I learned her collection of work from El Salvador was available, I thought it would be a perfect match with the rich documentary and photojournalism holdings in the photography collections at the Ransom Center and with the strength of Latin American Studies program at The University of Texas."

The exhibition serves as a record of a violent period in Latin American history.

"The Inside El Salvador photos are more than just eyewitness testaments to the struggles of the Salvadoran people," says Donna DeCesare, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism, whose photos were also featured in the exhibition. "They also serve as crucial reminders of past human rights abuses that continue to haunt us to this day."

In conjunction with Inside El Salvador, the human rights conference "Image, Memory, and the Paradox of Peace: Fifteen Years after the El Salvador Peace Accords," was hosted by the University's Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, and School of Journalism, as well as Houston's Rothko Chapel.

View a slideshow of images from Inside El Salvador

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