Cadilla de Martínez, Maria (1886–1951)
Cadilla de Martínez, Maria (1886–1951)
Puerto Rican writer, academic, and folklorist of the mid-20th century. Name variations: Maria Cadilla deMartinez; Maria Tomasa Cadilla y Colón; Liana Cadilla de Martínez. Born on December 21, 1886, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico; died on August 21, 1951, in Arecibo; daughter of Armindo Cadilla y Fernandez (a navy official) and Catalina Colón y Nieves; received teaching certificate from the University of Puerto Rico, early 1900s; also attended the College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts (Mayaguez), 1913; University of Puerto Rico, A.B., 1928, A.M., 1930; doctorate from the Universidad Central (Madrid), 1933; married Julio Tomas Martínez Mirabal, in 1903; children: María, Tomasita.
Studied in U.S. (1902); became professor of history (1916); published first book (1925); earned doctorate in Madrid (1933).
Cuentos a Lillian (Stories for Lillian, 1925); La Poesía Popular en Puerto Rico (Popular Poetry in Puerto Rico, 1933); La Mística de Unamuno (Unamuno's Mystique, 1934); Cantos y Juegos Infantiles de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Songs and Children's Games, 1938); Costumbres y Tradicionalismos de mi Tierra (Customs and Traditions of My Country, 1939); Raíces de la Tierra (Roots from the Earth, 1941); Rememorando el Pasado Heroico (Remembering our Historic Past, 1946).
Maria Cadilla de Martínez was a memorable figure in Puerto Rican cultural history. As a professor of history, author, and lover of art, music, and literature in all their forms, Cadilla was instrumental in focusing attention upon the indigenous Latin culture of her island, and her research, writings, and academic work helped the folk arts of Puerto Rico achieve recognition as an important part of its past.
Cadilla was born Maria Tomasa Cadilla y Colón on December 21, 1886, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She was the daughter of Armindo Cadilla y Fernandez, of Spanish heritage and an official in the navy, and Catalina Colón y Nieves , a native-born Puerto Rican. At the time of Cadilla's birth, the island was still part of the Spanish Empire, but after the Spanish-American War of 1898, it became an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Educated in Catholic schools, Cadilla began to write while still a teenager. She also displayed great interest in art and painted in her spare time; playing the piano was another great love. In 1902, she left Puerto Rico for a time to attend school at the Washington Institute, then returned the following year and wed architect Julio Tomas Martínez Mirabal. Her husband founded a school in Arecibo, and after earning her teaching credentials from the University of Puerto Rico she began to teach there. She also earned a certificate as an instructor in English and went on to pursue several degrees. She first took courses in agriculture and home economics at Mayaguez's College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts around 1913, then later earned two degrees in education (an A.B. in 1928, and a master's two years later) from the University of Puerto Rico. She had already established herself in a teaching career at the same institution as a professor of Hispanic history and literature.
Before earning a doctorate in philosophy and literature from the University of Madrid in 1933, Cadilla had established herself as an author. Her first book, Cuentos a Lillian (Stories for Lillian), was published in 1925. Her doctoral thesis, La Poesía Popular en Puerto Rico (Popular Poetry in Puerto Rico), became a standard textbook in Latin American literature at the university level. She also published numerous essays, short stories, and poetry, but it was her recognition of Puerto Rican folklore and traditions that made Cadilla a leading academic of her day. Her teaching, preservation work, and several important books were a great influence upon a generation of writers and artists in her country, and throughout Latin America. Her writings include Cantos y Juegos Infantiles de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Songs and Children's Games, 1938), Costumbres y Tradicionalismos de mi Tierra (Customs and Traditions of My Country, 1939), Raíces de la Tierra (Roots from the Earth, 1941) and Rememorando el Pasado Heroico (Remembering our Historic Past, 1946).
Cadilla was an important women's-rights advocate in Puerto Rico. She served as vice-president of the island's Suffrage Association and was also involved in the Insular Association of Women Voters. She was the only female member of the Academy of History of Puerto Rico and was awarded numerous professional accolades during her lifetime, including the St. Louis Medal from France, and honors from the Folklore Society of Mexico and the Puerto Rican Atheneum. The mother of two children who survived into adulthood, María and Tomasita, Cadilla died in Arecibo on August 21, 1951. A high school in the city is named in her honor.
Sicherman, Barbara, and Carol Hurd Green. Notable American Women: The Modern Period. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1980.
Votaw, Carmen Delgado. Puerto Rican Women. Washington, DC: National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, 1995.
Carol Brennan , Grosse Pointe, Michigan