En Tiempos Peligrosos/In Dangerous Times: Digitizing Women's Literary, Charitable and Political Networks from the Spanish Civil War to the Cold War

Award Year: 
2017
Project Director(s): 

Elizabeth Horan, Professor of English, Department of English
Carmen de Urioste-Azcorra, Professor of Spanish, School of International Languages and Cultures
Cynthia Tompkins, Professor of Spanish, School of International Languages and Cultures

This online archive features more than 200 previously hidden, uncatalogued letters and photographs that reveal the friendship between the 20th century’s three most influential Spanish-speaking women. The celebrated Spanish lawyer and politician Victoria Kent; the Chilean Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral, and the Argentine editor, essayist and philanthropist Victoria Ocampo first met as unmarried, middle-age women in Madrid during the embattled Spanish Republic (1931-1939) where the Civil War transformed their struggle for women’s rights into creating asylums for orphans and others to escape WWII Europe. Their lively, intimate, three-way correspondence reveals their frank confidences about the political and diplomatic maneuvers that enabled each of these three women to slip across borders, avoiding expulsion, creating false identities, hiding from the Gestapo, and helping the French Resistance. Their letters span law, art, money, health, politics, and sexuality: while Kent and Mistral were lesbians (without calling themselves such), Ocampo had many heterosexual affairs. The post WW II era found them converging, improbably, in 1950s New York, where their staunch anti-Communism produced unexpected Cold War alliances. Although Mistral died in 1957, Ocampo and Kent survived to return to post-Franco (1975) Spain, where the latter has since become an icon of women’s citizenship.