In the first decades after World War II, Cornell University sponsored applied social science research designed to foster social change in several regions of the developing world. One of these enterprises took place at Hacienda Vicos in the Callejon de Huaylas region of Peru. What came to be called the Cornell-Peru Program was designed to help the families who resided on the hacienda (Vicosinos) make the transition from serfdom to Peruvian citizenship. As conceived by Allan R. Holmberg and continued by his successors, these transformations could only take place by working within the framework of Peruvian institutions and the Vicosino value system. A consequence of this design was the collection of the copious, detailed information that now resides in the University Archives.
The Program represents an optimistic view of both the possibilities for and the benefits of change. The contemporary North American view emphasized the importance of agricultural productivity as a means to improve closed, ignorant, impoverished communities such as Vicos. In addition, the social science of the time stressed the essential relationship between economic development national integration. The Vicosinos would exercise the duties of citizenship in exchange for the rights that the Peruvian nation afforded them.
Evaluations of the Cornell-Peru Program describe it as a qualified success. Heightened literacy, an increased overall standard of living and decreased exploitation are balanced against a marked decline in the prestige that women received for their activities and a growing separation between the relatively well off and the poorer members of the community. Recent contacts between Cornell and Vicos will, perhaps, modify that legacy.
Most of the documents and images chosen for this exhibition result from Vicosinos' desire to awaken their hazy memories of events now forty years past. We hope that community members who took part in the Cornell-Peru Program will gain information about Vicos in the 1950s and 60s and that they will comment on what they see, filling gaps in the historical record.