In the Archives: Disappeared Children in Argentina and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Black-and-white photograph of a large crowd marching in a street

Manifestación [Demonstration]

Photograph of a grandmother and granddaughter embracing

Argentina Rojo de Pérez y Mariana Pérez, found grandchild and Grandmother

Some of the most fascinating material in our digital collections is a series of interviews and other documents relating to Rita Arditti’s work in Argentina. Rita Arditti spent many years conducting interviews with members of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. These women worked hard (and still work) to advocate for the children and grandchildren that were kidnapped or born captive between 1976 and 1983 during the violent military rule in Argentina. The Grandmothers have worked to create a DNA database so that the children, after being stripped of their identity, can learn who they are even if their family has already passed away. The Grandmothers have also worked with forensic teams and archivists to actively learn more about the kidnappings and captive births, as well as to provide a database for the children to learn more about their families’ histories. A few of the Grandmothers have been reunited with their grandchildren so far, and they hold out hope that more connections will be made.

Black-and-white photo of a street poster of a pregnant woman

‘Embarazada,’ afiche en una calle de Buenos Aires (de la colección de las Abuelas) [‘Pregnant Woman,’ poster in a Buenos Aires street (from the Abuelas’ collection)]

In our collection, we have photographs of the Grandmothers, images from their own photograph collection, interviews and transcripts of the interviews in Spanish, and a fully digitized copy of the Spanish version of Rita Arditti’s book, De por vida: historia de una bu?squeda: las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo y los nin?os desaparecidos (Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina). We also have videos of Grandmothers Estela Barnes de Carlotto and Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit speaking at events in the United States (with an English translator).

To learn more about the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and their work, check out our digital collection. You can find the English translation of Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina in the Healey Library and through UMBrella. There’s also an English article written by Rita Arditti on the Wellesley Centers for Women website, and the Grandmothers have their own website. Learn more about Rita Arditti here.

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