823.428/15a: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Peru (Norweb)

A–716. You are requested to present officially the following statement to the Peruvian Government:

“The destruction of the National Library of Peru and the library of the Lima Geographical Society by the recent disastrous fire is a tragic loss, not only to Peru but to American culture as a whole, for an injury to the cultural resources of any one American republic affects cultural development throughout the continent.

The people of the United States sympathize deeply with the Peruvian people in the loss they have sustained and are eager to participate to the extent of their ability in the rehabilitation of these two great Peruvian centers of learning. Individuals, private institutions, and the government wish to join forces to provide all possible appropriate assistance, including technical information as may be desired, and such materials as books, maps, catalog cards, and reproductions of Peruvian manuscripts in the collections of this country.

In order to organize this cooperation most effectively, the Secretary of State has appointed a national ‘Committee to Aid the National Library of Peru and the Geographical Society of Lima’. The following persons, whose names and affiliations indicate the wide and representative basis of the committee, have accepted membership:

  • Professor Herbert E. Bolton, Historian and Acting Director of the Bancroft Library, University of California.
  • Mr. Donald Coney, Director, University of Texas Library.
  • Mr. Archer M. Huntington, President, Hispanic Society of America.
  • Dr. Waldo G. Leland, Director, American Council of Learned Societies.
  • Dr. Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress.
  • Dr. Philip Ainsworth Means, Archaeologist and Historian.
  • Mr. Keyes D. Metcalf, PresidentAmerican Library Association and Director of Harvard University Library.
  • Mr. W. W. Norton, President, Council on Books in Wartime.
  • Mr. R. Henry Norweb, United States Ambassador to Peru.
  • Mr. Wallace K. Harrison, Assistant Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.
  • Mr. Charles A. Thomson, Chief, Division of Cultural Relations, State Department.
  • Mr. John K. Wright, Director, American Geographical Society.
  • Dr. Lawrence Wroth, Director, John Carter Brown Library.
  • Dr. Lewis Hanke of the Hispanic Foundation of the Library of Congress will serve as Secretary of the Committee.

Through this Committee, the United States will endeavor to show in a concrete manner the interest felt by the people of this country in Peruvian civilization and their desire to cooperate in the work that will be undertaken in order that the City of the Kings may continue to occupy the important position in American culture that she has held ever since the establishment of the University of San Marcos in the sixteenth century.”

It has been suggested that Dr. Lewis Hanke be sent to Peru soon to confer with government officials, Peruvian cultural leaders and the mission to ascertain how this committee can most effectively assist. The opinion of the mission is requested on this subject.

In order to arrange for simultaneous release in this country, please telegraph exact time of presentation of the message to the President.92

  1. Manuel Prado Ugarteche.