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Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE CATALAN MIGRATION TO NEW YORK A view from La Llumanera de Nova York (1874-1881)

by Dr. Lluís Costa
Professor Titular. Comunicació Audiovisual i Publicitat
Departament de Filologia i Comunicació
Universitat de Girona

The first issue of La Llumanera de Nova York came out in November 1874 and was not published until 1881. The challenge was certainly complicated: editing a newspaper in Catalan in New York, with the aim of influencing a group of potential readers who were distributed in the United States and, at the same time, become a medium that would bring the ideas of a new era, both from a political and cultural point of view. The life of the newspaper coincided with a time of renewal of the newspapers in the western world and, also, in Catalonia. The emerging mass press of this year put the new technologies to test; that allowed the increasing of the production, just as alphabetization, and urbanization demanded for more information. The railway enabled a more extensive and effective distribution. The modernization of the printing improved the quality and efficiency of the issues. And the telegraph, and later the telephone, would help to speed the transition and acquisition of information and news, the raw material of newspapers and magazines.

Having analysed the situation of Catalonia in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it could be said that La Llumanera de Nova York represents the first solid journalistic experience of interconnection between Catalonia and America. This statement, expressed as a hypothesis, is based on a rather indisputable reality: in the eighties the people who emigrated from Catalonia to America were established, the technological advances applied to the press were very important: the modernization of the printing press, the introduction of the telephone and the telegraph – which was essential in the process of issuing news–, the photography –which was also essential in a medium that prioritised illustration on lithographic stone– and improvements in the shipping of the hand of the steam engine and in the land transportation, where the rail network went, in Europe, from 143.039 to 191.596 kilometres and, in the United States, from 119.352 to 206.607 kilometres, the exorbitant rates of illiteracy that still prevailed in the second half of the nineteenth century began to experience clear signs of change, which favoured a potential increase of the population who were able to read[i] and, finally, Catalonia seemed to be ready to build its own discourse based in cultural roots but in a political key.

A detailed analysis of the contents of La Llumanera de Nova York
provides enough elements to understand the relationship between the Catalans established in Cuba, the United States and Spain. The political speech is not only cultural, nor politic.

Beyond these aspects, the Catalan newspaper took a leading role as a defender of the Catalan economy and set as one of its objectives the stimulation of the trading and exchange of Catalan products. The Universal Exhibition of Philadelphia in 1876 was an excellent opportunity to show the world the prosperity and dynamic of Catalonia in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. La Llumanera 
was highly involved with the exhibition, as it understood that it was a very appropriate framework for establishing business and knowledge relationships.

First issue of La Llumanera
de Nova York,
 November, 1877

Heading of the newspaper.

Views of New York published in 
La Llumanera, January, 1875

The working hypothesis considered in the beginning of the research was to consider La Llumanera de Nova York as a modern and contemporary newspaper in the time when it was published; a newspaper advanced in technical aspects that had to make real efforts to be able to distribute and reach markets geographically dispersed that it wanted to cover. The fact of being edited in a city that could be considered as the capital of the journalistic world, New York, favoured it. The newspaper had a significant public projection thanks to the extensive network of agents and, later, sales points distributed around the world. La Llumanera created a structure consisting of commercial agents distributed in New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Mobile (Alabama), Havana, Matanzas, London and Barcelona. After four months of being founded, it extended its network of commercial agents in Cuba in the towns of Matanzas, Cárdenas, Cienfuegos, Sagua, Colón, Guanaja y and Jovellanos (in the province of Matanzas). It is obvious that the island of Cuba was the most important market of potential readers. Although in the United States, apart from the cities mentioned, other cities were added: Baltimore, Charleston, Pensacola, Ilion, Pascagoula, Washington and San Francisco. Sometime later, there were other commercial agents in other countries of the American continent: Puerto Rico (Mayáguez), Mexico (City of Mexico), Venezuela (Puerto Cabello), Colombia, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Guatemala and Peru (Lima). In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, having such a broad panel of agents that sought the diffusion of the newspaper –and in a lot of cases the existence of writers-commercials– offered a patina of modernity to the project. Even the newspaper considered the possibility that other potential agents postulated to cover more geographic locations.

Note that the delegations of La Llumanera were distributed across the American continent, although there were significant absences in Argentina and Chile (Map No. 1), while in the United States there was a clear concentration of offices in the east coast, especially around New York and New Orleans, with the significant representation in the west coast in San Francisco (Map no. 2).

The printing was done, throughout its existence, in various places in New York: “Imprenta de El Cronista, 64 y 66.Broadway” (no. one to thirteen); “Imprenta Las novedades, 69, 71 y 73. Broadway (No. fourteen to twenty-eight); “Sears & Cole, 51. Maiden Lane.New York” (No. twenty-nine to fourty-nine); “Thompson & Moreau, 51 y 53.New York” (No. fifty to seventy-three). In New York it could be bought in the editorial, at Emili Puig’s home, although it also had selling points in the bookshop Brentano, in the Union square, and in a kiosk at the corner of the Sixth Avenue, near the Hotel Español (“Spanish Hotel”).

The reader of the newspaper – the receptor – was composed, mainly, by the bourgeoisie, which represented an important segment of the Catalan population living in New York or Cuba, and to a lesser extent in other American countries. Their profile was of a new rich thanks to the trading, the agriculture or the slave trade. However, it is very inconvenient to generalise, given that not everyone had a high position in society, and it must be interpreted that some readers were part of the lowest social classes, who also read La Llumanera, although they were not probably subscribers, but they read it in the societies and centres where the newspaper arrived. A hypothetical reader of the newspaper was also the upper class Cuban, especially with peninsular origin – the creole – that found the expression of new styles and ways of living in the newspaper of New York: “whose upper layers are eager to Europeanisation and cosmopolitanism, devour foreign publications, imitating the lifestyles and tastes that they present”.[ii]

Modernity was reflected, also, in advertising, which became, at that time, the main source of income –even more than the subscription and the sale – of a press that was increasingly conceived in an entrepreneurial way. The observation of the advertising in La Llumanera helps to interpret the implications of the New-Yorker environment in the newspaper and allows to see the commercial strategy of the American businessman, much more advanced than the strategies of the Catalan businessman.

Thus, La Llumanera was published in a time of change, when there were new ways of understanding life and new customs emerged on the scene, when leisure and entertainment took centre stage and when culture was more democratic and accessible to the middle-class. The contents of the newspaper adapted to the new conception of life and evolved. The news about shows and performances took on great importance in the press of the eighties, as they offered a response to a social demand, not only linked to the culture, but also to the urban social amusement.

Throughout the nineteenth century the journalistic progression in the United States was very spectacular. When the first issue of La Llumanera de Nova York was out, in 1874, 8,082 newspapers were already published. There were newspapers on every topic and in every language. Out of the 551 that were published in New York, forty-nine were written in German, eight in Spanish, seven in French, one in Swedish, one in Italian, one in Portuguese and one in Catalan. The rest, obviously, were written in English.

The innovation and the progress of journalism were born in the United States. There were close relationships between advertisers, periodicals and readers that would produce a pattern of operation, financing and production of content, which later would be used in other forms of mass communication. New York was the door of the United States where thousands of Europeans immigrants entered, and where worked some of the most significant publishers in the history of communication, such as Hearst and Pulitzer, creators of the yellow journalism, willing to do anything to spread news, even inventing.

New York, the modern city

New York, the city that hosted, in the beginning of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, many Catalans and a publication in this language had, according to the census of 1875, 1,046,037 inhabitants, which added to its surroundings, the conurbation exceeded the two million inhabitants (Brooklyn, 484,616, Philadelphia, 674,022). The other major American cities were Boston (341,919 inhabitants), St. Louis (310,864), Chicago (298,977), Cincinnati (216,354) and New Orleans (203,439).

The urban population in the United States was way higher than in Catalonia, where its great capital city, Barcelona, had, according to the census of 1877, 243,385 inhabitants, while the other major cities were Madrid (399,523 inhabitants), Valencia (142,057), Seville (132,789) and Malaga (116,143). Barcelona could be considered, from an economic progress point of view, as one of the big exceptions in the context of the Spanish State, where the economic structure was still dominated by the mode of the agricultural production, with rural communities poorly developed, also from a demographic and customs point of view. In New York, like La Llumanera said, there were “many cars driven by girls, alone or accompanied”. The contrast with the Spanish State was brutal; its mobile park was very discreet and it would take a long time before the inclusion of women in society. The powerful theatrical activity of the American city was also reflected on the pages of the Catalan newspaper which often inserted detailed chronicles of artistic programming.[iii]

The description made by La Llumanera of the city of New York – the third city of the world – was of admiration and surprise: The long streets are also the widest and they are called Avenues, except for the one right in the middle which is called Broadway (…) Buses, cars, trucks of all sizes depending on their business(…) Almost all of them have (at their homes) flagpoles. Do you know why? Because the first thing that Yankees do in any celebration is to raise the flag. The impression perceived when the Catalan immigrant arrived in New York was of astonishment and bedazzlement of the immensity of the city. Doctor Joaquim Martí describes his feelings when he arrived in New York, and he publishes them in La Llumanera in July, 1879: The first thing that came to my mind while I saw all that immensity was: When will Barcelona be able to arouse admiration to the foreigners like New York has done it to me? When will we be lucky enough to be able to be practical and satisfy our material needs? (…) I have to say that what you see when you’ve just arrived already impresses, but it’s even more impressing once you’re inside the city. The streets are 20-25 metres wide. The sidewalks of both sides are 3 or 4 metres wide and they’re full of skylights that illuminate the basements of the houses; and everywhere you can see magnificent shops and private homes built with taste and after a rigorous study of the hygienic conditions. The streets are almost straight and extremely long; some of them are four miles long. For the comfort of the walkers there are dozens of trams, hundreds of buses and I don’t know how many companies of elevated railways.

In the section Llumenetas, the newspaper briefly described news about New York, sometimes in an ironical way with the aim to ridicule some customs of the American society. It sometimes also used to reflect dark and lamentable aspects of the modern city, like when, in November 1877, it explained that from 24 August to 14 October there were, in New York City, 36 attempts of suicide (some of them accomplished).

This feeling of admiration and contempt that the Catalan had towards the city can also be applied to the Cuban community. New York received, throughout the nineteenth century, many prominent Cuban writers who found a refuge in the big city for their exile. Many of them wrote memorable reviews of the city that had become their home. The great poet Jose Maria Heredia arrived in New York in 1823 and described it as “precious New York”, “city of the seas”, “grand spectacle”, but some months later his opinion changed: “I assure you that it oppresses my soul and I would want to die when I think that my hope is to live until I die amongst these people, hearing their horrible language. Can you believe that in seven months of continuous study I’ve barely learnt to speak it a little, incorrectly, and I almost remain in a fasted state when they speak?”[iv] Much time later, in the last year of La Llumanera, in January 1880, the most prominent figure of the Cuban history arrived in New York: José Martí, a journalist that remained in the American city until shortly before he died on a Cuban battlefield in 1895, and he did not quite adapt to the New York way of life: “But do not lie to ourselves: Martí admired this city but he did not love it. If he lived in it for fifteen years was because he was forced by the circumstances, because New York was the alternative centre of the Cuban politics and only from there could he influence the destiny of the Island”.[v] In some of his chronicles Jose Martí also talks about the darkest and ugliest parts of New York: “Oh! There in the city with dirty neighbourhoods in which you can see, like tattered flags, gaunt grimy hands on the roofs; there, in the wet streets where men and women knead and stir, without air, without space, like clumsy and deformed worms beneath the ground that affect the vegetal life; there, in the tortuous and muddy buildings where homeless people live in cells, filled with still air; there, where poor children die throughout the summer”.[vi] It was the other face of the modern city, of the depressed neighbourhoods, full of people leading poor lives.

The modern New York, however, exported new customs around the world, although they arrived quite late in Spain, but La Llumanera anticipated and explained the new American lifestyles that caused bedazzlement to its readers in Catalonia. When many years still left for the transformations of the Catalan coastal villages in consequence of the massive tourism, when the Catalan coast was still virgin and wild, when the houses of the fishermen were the only architectural elements in the coast, in New York, the island of Coney Island, there was a beach for bathing since 1875: “three entrepreneur Yankees, who knew that they could take advantage of that place, built three magnificent hotels in that beach; but don’t you think that they were usual hotels . They were three enormous and luxurious buildings, with all the comforts you can imagine”.To arrive to the island, which was relatively close to New York, the hotel entrepreneurs also built a railway line. All this caused a great movement of bathers – some days there were 80,000 people –: “rich and poor, lords and workers, men, women and children find chill on the beach of Coney Island”. In the resort there were pavilions for freshwater baths, wardrobes for storing personal belongings. “Although the changing rooms were separated for both genders, men and women, they bathed and swam together in the sea, which is a really funny and instructive spectacle. The swim suits are so small that you can even study anatomy and in some cases osteology. As we can assume, beautiful girls like to walk in the beach with their swimsuits, and as they don’t make a big deal of it, men don’t cover their face (…) One of the rooms of the hotel that makes a good input is what’s called bar-room, which is a luxurious tavern where American drink soft drinks and other drinks without even sitting down”.[vii] In Catalonia and, naturally, in Spain, this kind of newspaper articles that described new realities aroused curiosity and enlivened, even more, the illusion for the new world. Two years later, the Diari Català of Barcelona described the emerging Catalan custom of practising the sea bathing in Barcelona.[viii]

New York was, from the Catalan point of view, an exemplary city, also from an economical point of view, well organized and that had clear objectives. There is a very interesting article of La Llumanera, written in a very modern journalistic way, a dialogue between brown sugar and tobacco. The analytical description of the processes of productions of both elements exhibits a very favourable interpretation of the American economy as opposed to the Cuban and Spanish:

- And what do you think of this country? What is your opinion about the United States?

- It’s a great country. They are very good at business.

- More than Cuba?

- Stupid! Much more!

- In Cuba they are very good!

- Get out! In Cuba they can’t see anything but themselves. They only do cheap things. But business, trading that requires prevision, great diplomacy, financial skills that are favourable to the interests of the country which ties or unties them to other nations, and that are builtafter thestudy, observation, calculation and analyse of the financial, agricultural, trading and industrial state of the different countries whom it has relationships: that still hasn’t been done in the island of Cuba, nor in Spain.

- Do you think?

- See what happens with us. They let us get out of the island; you like a leaf and me like red sugar, to be elaborated in the United States. If the people of Cuba understood their interests, if they had prevision, they wouldn’t have allowed that a company that refined sugar was established in the United States.

- And how could they avoid it?

- Very easily. Firstly, establishing a lot of refineries in the island, and then with a strong right to export the sugar. If the United States saw that the red sugar in Cuba costs them the same as the refined, they wouldn’t be so stupid to import the red and then have to refine it; they would, instead, import the refined, which would mean that all the benefits of this industry would stay in the island.

Since September 1878, a section called Cartas sobre la classe trevalladora en los Estados Unidos (“Letters about the working class in the United States”). The look of this social group is the new discourse favourable to the social and economic organization of the United States, which is presented like a host land for the immigrants, whom are offered lands and job opportunities: People from all the countries, English, German, French, Swedish, Russian, Italian, Turkish and even Chinese and Japanese migrate to the United States. All of them, except rare exceptions, come fleeing from poverty or despotism and come to establish in this country to work in the shadows of the liberal institutions of the Republic. Each of them brings a spark of civilisation (…) The nation is benefited of this mix of practical knowledge, and in it, almost as much as in the protectionist system adopted by the American government, due to the great development.

The fact that La Llumanera was first published was noticed in New York. The knowledge of Catalonia in the American city was almost non-existent or very superficial. One of the most prestigious newspapers of New York, the Evening Post, owned and directed by the poet William Cullen Bryant –who knew the Spanish and Catalan literature very well– wrote an article in his newspaper in which he demonstrated his knowledge about the Catalan reality: “In New York most of the languages of the civilized world are spoken. Apart from the most widespread, there are other minority languages, like the Gaelic and the Irish, and we have to add the language spoken in the Principality of Catalonia, in Spain. We have, before us, a newspaper published here with this dialect, called La Llumanera de Nova York, which reached its twelfth issue. It isn’t very difficult to understand for those who understand the main languages of southern Europe, although occasionally the reader might have to stop when reading a strange word, of which is not possible to find etymology. Perhaps there are few people in this country who know the extension where the Catalan language is spoken. The people who live in the southern Departments of France still speak this language that was before called llenguad’oc, and can understand people when they cross the frontier and arrive in the northern-east Spain. In the city of Barcelona, Catalan is spoken in homes, and Barcelona is the only place of Spain where the trading and growing of the city reminds some ports of America. The spirit of commercial business that distinguishes its inhabitants has made that some of them establish shops in New York, and this newspaper is published because the Catalans can read news of their homeland, in their “beloved language”, like they call it. The newspaper that we have before us is illustrated with engravings, but what’s most curious are the verses that it has, written by Catalan poets who live in New York, who still sing in what was the language of ancient troubadours. The Catalan language has dictionaries and grammars, and one of the articles of the newspaper proposes the creation of an Academy of Catalan Language “in order to preserve the purity and virility of the language”, and to look at spelling, so we deduce that it’s still not well determined”.

Nearly four years later, The Daily Graphic showed its knowledge about Catalonia and some north-American sectors that could perfectly differentiate Catalonia from Spain: A curious fact in the matter of journalism is the publication in this city of a newspaper, La Llumanera, written in the dialect of Catalonia. It’s an illustrated magazine that has reached its third year of publication. It is very singular that a newspaper of these conditions can find support to pay its owners, especially considering that the amount of readers is reduced to a proportionally small number of sons of Spain. The Catalan language is very different from the Castilian, and similar to the Provencal, so not many people outside Catalonia understand Catalan. Like with the language, the Catalans are differentiated in many things from the rest of the nation. Even when Spain was invaded by Julius Caesar, the inhabitants of this province were the most difficult ones to beat. The energy and strength that they showed then is still within them, and they have more activity and industries than the rest of sons of Spain. Maybe it’s because of this than La Llumanera was born can be maintained.[ix]

The Catalans in New York

In the first decades of the nineteenth century a Catalan from the Barcelonan municipal of Arenys de Mar, Josep Xifré i Casas, would establish, being one of the pioneers, trading relations with New York. Xifré had migrated in the late eighteenth century to Cuba and in 1808 he managed to export raw leather, modernized the means of production and the machinery that came from England, and started frequent trading of that product and some others, like sugar and coffee, with the United States. He would also work with speculation and banking activities and in 1818 he would marry Judith Dowling, daughter of his agent in New York, city in which he would establish in 1823, and which would become a centre of the distribution to Europe. He had some significant buildings built, and associated with Peter Harmong for the banking businesses. Xifré came back to Barcelona with a real fortune and never went back in 1840.[x] The case of Josep Xifré illustrates the figure of the Catalans who saw from a very early time the chance to do business in the United States.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of reliable census in terms of the number of Catalans who migrated to the United States in the nineteenth century, which also happens with Spanish people. There are some statistics, though, that provide us with some references. So, the population of Cuba and Spain in New York and Brooklyn was the following. In 1870, Cuba: 1565 emigrants; Spain: 682; in 1880: Cuba: 2073 emigrants; Spain: 1048.[xi] Knowing this, it is possible to speculate the number of Catalans, but doing it with a scientific base is too risky.

Apart from not being able to specify numbers, over the years, the Catalan presence in New York increased moderately and was, sometimes, visible in the pages of La Llumanera; in fact, this was one of the most important aims of the newspaper: the interrelation of the community through the diffusion of its interests and activities. In June of 1876 the newspaper published news about the existence of a Catalan hostel, near the city of New York, in Philadelphia, run by Catalans Bosch and Llauradó: “the owners are Catalan, the interpreter is Catalan, the cook is Catalan”, but, careful, “there is a canteen with Cuban style”. The connection United States-Cuba-Catalonia was reflected, also, in the gastronomic sector. In the same news it was told that in the section of advertising there would be more information. Like it will be seen later, it was not common that the Catalan commercial initiatives used advertisements to let people know about their products.

Certainly, the gastronomy was, already at that time, an element of identity and cohesion of the Catalan community. Some months after they were opened, the newspaper talked about another Catalan hostel, established in New York, although it had a name with a significant national ambiguity –Hotel Español (“Spanish Hotel”)– and about a Catalan restaurant which was in Liberty Street, in New York, owned by Catalans Pont, Ruiloba and Rahola. There they served “dishes in the style of our land, well cooked and presented, and there is always wine, sausages, canned fruit, olives and other Catalan products”.

The number of Catalans who lived in New York was not too large, but over time its organizational capacities grew, and La Llumanera was, sometimes, the nexus and, especially the medium of diffusion, of the Catalan reality in America. Its support to the Catalan industry was quite well known, and the diffusion that it made of the culture of Catalonia was very significant. In the early 1879 the Catalans in New York founded the Choral Catalan Society, under the direction of Artur Cuyàs.

However, the newspaper considered that undertaking the adventure of emigration from Catalonia to the United States could be complicated and, sometimes, even dangerous if it was not planned with guarantees. In this sense, it discouraged Catalan families to send their children to the north-American continent if they did not had a hosting with minimal conditions: “There are many young Catalans who emigrate from Cuba or the Peninsula for different reasons and they come to the United States without speaking English, without money, thinking that it would be easy to find a job, that we find necessary to tell our fellow Catalans that are thinking of sending a son, a relative or a friend to this country that they must not do it if they do not want to go through very rough times”.[xii] In fact, this stated the necessity of creating an emigration network, a practice that was widespread throughout the nineteenth century. Indeed, many of the thousand Catalans that emigrated, especially to Cuba and Puerto Rico, in the nineteenth century, did it with an authentic chain network: the first emigrants asked their relatives to go to America, or maybe just the neighbours of their town, to work in businesses that they had created and that they used to be mixed small shops, where they sold several products: food, trinkets, textiles… The structure of this trade was based in the progressive creation of customers and a capital created from generation to generation. When a young man reached the age in which he could work, which used to be between the childhood and the adolescence, it was very common that he started the migration experience, then, if there was not any member of the nuclear family that had emigrated before, their parents looked for their family relations or neighbours to find a job in a store for their son in America. The emigrant never went to America empty-handed; on the contrary, he always had a letter of recommendation in hand guaranteeing a job. La Llumanera claimed this practise but in reference to the trip from Cuba to the United States, everything suggests that the profile of this emigrant would be a poor man who failed in everything and who would not have succeeded in his West Indian economical and vital project

The involvement of the Catalan emigrant to the American political life was almost non-existent, unlike the Cuban emigration, which went from a support to the Republican to the Democratic Party, depending on the attitude of the president of the United States towards the independence of Cuba. It must be said, too, that while there were Cuban intellectuals, most of them exiled, in the island –most of them founded newspapers–, such as Juan Ignacio de Armas y Céspedes, Enrique Piñeyro, José Manuel Mestre, etc., which were related to each other. José Martí was the true referent; the Catalan emigrants did not stood out especially in the field of letters, making clear that their migration responded to economic reasons and not politic reasons.

The American press, occasionally, also talked about Catalonia, proof of the evident interests that the Catalan lands awakened in the American continent, at least to a potential market that consisted of readers who emigrated. The New York Times correspondent in Barcelona – who signed as Gar – wrote an article, in October 1877, about the traditional feasts of La Mercè in Barcelona.

Late in 1878 La Llumanera published an issue about the painter Marià Fortuny, on the occasion of his death, and was widely praised and referenced in the press of New York: the New York Herald made a detailed description, the American Art Journal talked about him in three columns, La Correspondance Américane mentioned the services offered for La Llumanera in favour of the trading relations between Catalonia and the United States. Most newspapers of New York wrote chronicles and briefs about the Catalan newspaper: the Evening Post, the Evening Telegram, the Evening Mail, the Home Journal, The Daily Graphic, the Lady’s Journal, the Commercial Advertiser, etc., as well as other newspapers in Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Cincinnati. In conclusion, the presence of La Llumanera was not unnoticed.

The scientific progresses of Catalan citizens also caught the attention of the American newspapers. The Scientific Press Supplement and The Engineer of the Pacific, both publications of California, informed about the scientific contributions by two Catalan engineers who lived in California, Eusebi Molera –from Vic – and Joan Cebrian – from Madrid, but his mother was Catalan– who had invented a pump for mines that could be also used as a fan and elastic piston machines with driving force of gas.[xiii] It was time of modernity, of progress and inventions. The major social figures – called, nowadays, significant public people – were the inventors. Tomas Alva Edison, born in 1847 in the state of Ohio, in the United States, was considered as some kind of myth for his technological contributions, mainly, in the field of electricity. No wonder that one of the covers of La Llumanera showed an image of this inventor, his biography – signed by Artur Cuyás – and a dedicatory that said, in Catalan, “Cheers to the readers of La Llumanera”. The Catalan newspaper accomplished a goal that it had wanted to accomplish for a long time: it knew how to harmonise the new social interests and a figure of great prestige with the Catalan reality: “For this reason La Llumanera has not stopped until this great man paid attention to the Catalan land and he paid a tribute, writing in our own language, the autograph that we publish today, even if it’s brief we have no doubt it will have great value for the readers of La Llumanera to whom it is dedicated”. The success of this issue was astonishing and it was sold out.

La Llumanera began a strategy that consisted on spreading the name of Catalonia using personalities of the north-American society; like they did with Edison, Artur Cuyàs wrote to the president elect of the United States, James Abram Garfield, who replied with a signed letter which they published translated into Catalan in the issue of January, 1881 and which said: “Dear Sir, I thank you for your letter of the 15 of the current month and for the issue of La Llumanera that you have been so kind to send me. I have read it pleased with what it says about Catalans, and I have had special satisfaction to know about the progress of this land. Yours sincerely, S.S.J.A. Garfield.”[xiv]

In conclusion, La Llumanera de Nova York

Cover of The Daily Graphic
13 January, 1879. 
was a medium that facilitated the interrelation of the Catalan emigrants spread in the world and, especially in America, and which opened spaces of knowledge of the Catalan reality in the United States.

About the Author:
LLUÍS COSTA FERNANDEZ, (Girona, 1959). Doctor of History. Professor of Communication at the University of Girona. His research has sometimes been focused in the history of communication and its relationship with society, as well as the analysis of the historical ties between America and Spain. He is the author of more than a dozen books.

Web page:


[i]While in Spain the literacy was a slow process (in the last quarter of the 19th century only a third of the population knew how to read and write), in the United States in 1870 there was only a 20% of illiteracy and a 10% in 1900.

[ii] Carmen Adams Fernández (1992), p. 142

[iii] As an example see the article "Theatres of New York," La Llumanera, no. 54; October 1879.

[iv]Letter to his uncle Ignasi. 15 April 1824. José Martí National Library. Sala Cubana. Collection of Manuscritos. Heredia CAR-83. Guiteras, Pedro Jose. "Don Jose Maria Heredia," Revista de Cuba (Havana), t. IX, 1881, pp. 18-19, quoted by Enrique Lopez Mesa (2002), pp. 61-62.

[v]Enrique Lopez Mesa. 2002, p. 36. See the issue of the stay of José Martí in New York: Marlene Vázquez Pérez. 2010.

[vi]José Martí.Obras Completas (1963-1973). vol.9, p. 458

[vii]"Los banys de mar de Nova York", La Llumanera de Nova York. No. 42 October 1878, p. 5. The article is very well illustrated with drawings that reproduce the scenes described.

[viii]The article of the Diari Català was reproduced by La Llumanera, no. 64, August 1880.

[ix] Article from The Daily Graphic translated into Catalan and reproduced in La Llumanera, no. 35 March of 1878 issue.

[x]Diccionari dels catalans d’Amèrica. 1992., vol.IV, pp. 279 i 280.

[xi]Source: USA, Department of the Interior Census Office. Compendium of the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington, government Office, 1892-1897.

[xii]“No vingueu als Estats Units”, La Llumanera, no. 56, December, 1879.

[xiii]A few months later, in October 1879, La Llumanera wrote an extensive report about the two Catalan scientists, with images of both of them and their inventions.

[xiv]James Abram Garfield (1831-1881) was, when they published theletter, the U.S. president-elect, and did not take possession until a few days later, on March 4, 1881. A few months later, in July, he was the victim of an attack, the consequences of which he died on 19 September of that year, 1881.


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(these captions should be distributed throughout the article)

1-First issue of La Llumanera de Nova York, November, 1877.

2-Heading of the newspaper.

3-Views of New York published in La Llumanera, January, 1875.

4-Cover of The Daily Graphic, 13 January, 1879.

5-Chronicle of an article published in La Llumanera, in October, 1878 with the title Los banys de mar de Nova York (“The baths of New York”).

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