Doctoral Candidate Adam Silvia Processes the Bernard Diederich Collection
Special Collections and University Archives at Florida International University will soon welcome researchers to explore the Bernard Diederich Collection. Diederich is a journalist who worked in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America in the mid to late twentieth century. In 2012, Florida International University acquired Diederich’s papers and the various historical documents that he collected. They have since been processed by Adam M. Silvia, a doctoral candidate and Green Family Fellow in the Department of History.
In 1949, Bernard Diederich, a New Zealand native, moved to Haiti where he published an independent newspaper, Haiti Sun. Expelled by the Dictator François Duvalier in 1963, Diederich moved to the Dominican Republic, where he investigated the assassination of strongman Rafael Trujillo, witnessed the Dominican Civil War and the 1965 US invasion. In 1966, Diederich became the TIME-LIFE Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. He reported on the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Salvadoran Civil War, the Panama Canal Treaties, and the US invasion of Grenada.
Bernard Diederich has published more than a dozen books, including Papa Doc: The Truth about Haiti Today (1969), Trujillo: The Death of the Goat (1978), and Somoza and the Legacy of US Involvement in Central America (1981). More recently, he published Seeds of Fiction (2012) about his travels with British novelist Graham Greene.
The Diederich Collection includes unpublished reports, interviews, correspondence, newspapers, and other historical documents. “They are invaluable to Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Florida International University and beyond,” Silvia explained in a preview at the Caribbean Studies Association conference in Mérida, Mexico this past May. “They also provide a new perspective on US diplomacy in the Cold War era.” In 2014, Silvia was generously awarded a fellowship by the Green Family Foundation to process the collection.
A young Bernard Diederich (left) outside the Haiti Sun headquarters in Port-au-Prince. In 2012, Duke University purchased Diederich’s newspaper, Haiti Sun, and has since made it available online via Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com).
Bernard Diederich (right) and doctoral candidate Adam M. Silvia (left) review manuscripts in the collection