Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias

Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias

This exhibition featured Clotilde Arias, a Peruvian immigrant who came to New York City in 1923 at age twenty-two to study music. Decades later she translated the national anthem into the official Spanish version at the request of the U.S. government. Arias died in 1959 in Manhattan at age fifty-eight. Through the lens of Ms. Arias’s own possessions—personal and professional documents, journals, objects, photographs—we can better understand important events in the past because they allow us to walk through an individual’s story and view the processes of change.

Clotilde Arias lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the development of Madison Avenue, not only as a witness but as a full participant and agent of change. Her life is a rich tapestry, a story that illuminates important and poignant historical markers during the first half of the 20th century.