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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2711

United States Army Corps of Engineers photographs of Spanish fortifications around Havana, Cuba


Photographs, taken by the US Army Corps of Engineers, of fortifications built by the Spanish around the area of Havana, Cuba.


  • 1899-1900

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to most of the collection material. The photographs in item (88), rolled panorama photographs, are extremely fragile and require instructions for use. Access requires permission of curator.


1.5 linear feet (1 box and 1 portfolio box)
Photographs of Spanish colonial fortifications around Havana, Cuba including earthworks and buildings, such as barbed wire entanglements, batteries, block houses, pontoon bridges, redoubts, roads, standing trenches, and many other images. Photographs were accompanied by a map of Cuba (not present at time of cataloging) and were supposed to be keyed to this map. Collection also includes a letter from Charles Moore (AB 1878) to Mr. Kiernan at the Harvard College Library.

Black and white photographs, sized 12.5 x 18 cm. All are undated except one which is May 1899. Most photographs are stamped: "ENG DEP'T D of H." Some include text: "Spanish earthworks" and/or "Havana defenses." Some photographs pasted together to form panorama views. Each group of photographs was enclosed in an envelope listing name/description of image and negative number. Each envelope was annotated: "Position on Map by marginal cross-index." These groupings were retained during cataloging, as was the order within each group.

Biographical / Historical

After the Spanish-American war, during the US occupation of Cuba, Colonel William Murray Black was made the Chief Engineer of the Department of Havana on General William Ludlow’s staff for the Corps of Engineers (on January 2, 1899). In this position, he organized a new Department of Public Works and established sanitary conditions in the city of Havana. Upon the arrival of General Leonard Wood, Black became Chief Engineer of the Island of Cuba. He wrote a code of regulations for the conduct of Public Works, which remained in force until they were incorporated into the laws of the new Cuban Republic. His establishment of public mapping, construction of sewers, paving of streets, construction of wharves, and the protection of the ocean-front established Havana as a viable seaport. [Source:].

These photographs of the Spanish defenses were probably taken after the Spanish-American War (1898 April-August), prior to beginning the public works projects.


Arranged into the following series:
  1. I. Loose photographs and other material
  2. II. Rolled panorama photographs

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2009M-102. Gift of Charles Moore, of Detroit, Michigan and Harwich Port, Massachusetts; received: 1900 September 3. Recataloged from SA 1740.9*.
Provenance: These photographs were sent to Charles Moore by Colonel William Murray Black, then sent as a gift to the Harvard College Library by Moore (see Moore's letter, item (86) ).

Related Materials

While the Harvard map relating to these photographs was not found at time of cataloging, these photographs may correlate to the map at the University of California, Davis, Shields Library: United States Army. Corps of Engineers. Map showing locations of temporary field works erected by the Spanish for the land defense of Havana, 1897-1898. The Corps: 1900. 1 map ; 65 x 63 cm.

This item is described in the U of C catalog as: "Temporary Field Works were located by triangulation and referred by rectangular coordinates to Morro Tower as Origin. Main Highways were traversed by stadia. Minor roads and minor details were sketched by Batson [sic] Board Method. Other data chosen from original Spanish sources, after consulting with Sr. Esteban T. Pichardo. Joseph A. Sargent, Asst. Engr., in charge of survey."/ "Plate No. 125."/ From U.S. Congress. Serial set, vol. 4073, H.R. Doc. No. 56-2. Class Descriptors: Geographic: 4924; H2 Responsibility: Department of Havana, Office of Chief Engineer, Wm. M. Black, Maj., Corps of Engrs., U.S. Army. April 10th 1900 ; working drawing by Pichardo and Bateson."

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Link to catalog
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. United States Army Corps of Engineers photographs of Spanish fortifications around Havana, Cuba, circa 1899-1900: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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