Educator, researcher and historian of Puerto Rican letters. Her wide-reaching studies of the history of Puerto Rican literature are fundamental for students of this bfield of knowledge.
Josefina Rivera de Alvarez was born on August 29, 1923, in the municipality of Mayagüez. Her parents were José G. Rivera Olán and María Luisa Rivera Custores. She attended primary and secondary schools in her hometown and continued her studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Puerto Rico, which is currently the San Germán campus of the Inter-American University, where she finished her bachelor of liberal arts degree in 1945. In 1947, she completed a master of arts degree with a specialization in Spanish studies at Columbia University in New York. She earned her Ph.D. at the Central University of Madrid in 1954.
While completing her studies between 1945 and 1946, Rivera de Alvarez worked as a teacher in Mayagüez at the José de Diego public school and at the Eugenio María de Hostos high School. When she completed her masters degree, she worked as an instructor at the Spanish studies department of the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. She gradually rose through the ranks until she became a full professor. She retired from teaching in 1977.
In 1955, her first work on Puerto Rican literature was published. It was titled Diccionario de literatura puertorriqueña. It is a vast and important source of information in two volumes that was later revised and expanded in 1974. For this work she received the Literature Prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. Her Historia de la literatura puertorriqueña, a two-volume work, was published in 1969 and also won the Literature Prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. In 1982, she published, along with her husband, the linguist and philologist Manuel Alvarez Nazario, the Antología general de la literatura puertorriqueña: prosa, verso y teatro. The following year, her Literatura puertorriqueña: su proceso en el tiempo was published.
Among the essays by Rivera de Alvarez that were published in academic journals are “El aguinaldo puertorriqueño de 1843” in Atenea, the magazine of the Mayagüez campus, and “El cuento folklórico en Puerto Rico” in the Revista del Instituto de CulturaPuertorriqueña. She was also published in the magazines Asomante, Revista de Ateneo de Puerto Rico, Revista del Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe, and others. She has written articles for island newspapers such as El Nuevo Día and El Mundo, and international newspapers such as La Prensa of New York and La Nación of Argentina.
Rivera de Alvarez has received a number of awards and honors for her work as a researcher and educator, such as the International Year of the Woman recognition at the Mayagüez campus in 1975; Distinguished Former Student (1983) from Inter-American University; Puerto Rican Grand Prize for Literary Research (1989) from the Puerto Rico Academy of Arts and Sciences. The University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus named her, along with her husband, professor emeritus during the graduation ceremony of 1991.
In 1993, along with her husband, Manuel Alvarez Nazario, she received the “Humanist of the Year” award granted by the Puerto Rican Endowment for the Humanities for her outstanding contribution to the humanities through her work and teaching. The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture awarded her the National Culture Prize in 2000.
Josefina Rivera de Alvarez is a member of the Puerto Rican Academy of History, a member of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language, and corresponding member of the Madrid Academy of History (1981), the Guatemala Academy of Geography and History (1982), the National Academy of the History of the Republic of Venezuela (1987) and the Dominican Academy of History (1988).
Josefina Rivera de Alvarez died in Mayagüez July 1, 2010.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Information prepared by the personnel of the Josefina and Manuel álvarez Nazario Collection of the General Library of the Mayaguez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 15, 2014.
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