May 24, 2010; Source: Eagle-Tribune | Without a doubt Ernest Hemingway is considered an American literary lion. But to many Cubans, he also occupies a rightful spot in that nation’s cultural history. Thanks to a unique partnership between a U.S. foundation and Cuba, efforts are underway to preserve the Pulitizer Prize winning author’s personal documents so his legacy lives on in both nations.

Since 2002, the Finca Vigia Foundation of Boston has been preserving Hemingway’s letters, telegrams, and more recently, other personal documents such as photographs and scrapbooks, that are maintained in the author’s former home located outside Havana. According to the Eagle-Tribune, Hemingway lived at Finca Vigia from 1939 to 1960, where he wrote The Old Man of the Sea. Mary-Jo Adams, project director for Finca Vigia, says the foundation’s work is designed to save a “treasure trove of documents that will be last to the passing of time.” She adds that Hemingway “saved everything, which is wonderful. Finca Vijia shows a portrait of an artist that we don’t know much about. Maybe that’s part of the answer we can find as we conserve the papers.”

To enable the preservation work, the foundation has had to negotiate agreements with the Cuban government and also get permission from the U.S. government, because a trade embargo that has been in effect against the island nation since 1962. The preservation work is being done by the Northeast Document Conversation Center of Andover, Mass., under contract to the foundation. In addition to preserving the materials, the foundation intends to make digital copies of them accessible from the John F. Kennedy Museum and Library in Boston and its Ernest Hemingway Collection.—Bruce Trachtenberg