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Esther Neira de Calvo Papers

Identifier: GTM-071217

Scope and Contents Note

The Esther Neira de Calvo Papers thoroughly document the life and career of Esther Neira de Calvo, a prominent Panamanian educator, politician, diplomat, and women's rights advocate. The extensive collection includes correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, speeches, and awards, and it provides a fascinating perspective on 20th century Panama and Inter-American cooperation. There is material from Carrie Chapman Catt, Maria Ossa de Amador Guerrero, Matilde Obarrio de Mallet, Gabriela Mistral, Juan Peron, Eva Peron, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Alfaro family of Panama, to name a few notables. Documents touch on all aspects of Esther Neira de Calvo's life and include files on education, politics, and feminism.


  • 1890 - 2022
  • Majority of material found within 1890 - 1978


Conditions Governing Access

Series VII is restricted. Access requires permission from Ms. Gloriela Calvo. Please contact Booth Family Center for Special Collections for further information.

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical Note

Esther Neira de Calvo (1890-1978), educator, politician, diplomat, and feminist, was born on May 1, 1890 in Panama. In addition to attending the Institut Padagogique de Wavre-Notre Dame in Belgium, she studied at Mount St. Vincent's College and at Columbia University in New York.

Esther Neira de Calvo became well known as an advocate in her native Panama in the realms of education, politics, women's rights, and social services. She was Inspector General of Education, (1923-1927). Significantly, she presided over Panama's Normal School (1927-1938), the only teacher's training school for women in Panama. She taught courses in pedagogy, languages, psychology, and comparative education. In 1938, she founded the Lyceum, a university preparatory school for women which she directed until 1945. In Panama, she was founder and president of the National Society for the Advancement of Women (1923) and the Women's Patriotic League (1945).

During the Second World War, Esther Neira de Calvo coordinated cultural affairs for the Ministry of Education in Panama and supported the American troops who were assigned there during the conflict. In 1945, she was elected nationally to the Third Constituent Assembly, where she contributed to the drafting of the new Constitution of Panama enacted in 1946. She authored, as legislator, the laws creating the school of social service at the University of Panama and the Juvenile National Council.

Esther Neira de Calvo moved to Washington, D.C. in 1949. She was named executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women by the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), and she worked in that capacity until 1965. Subsequently, she served with the rank of ambassador as the alternate representative of Panama to the Council of the OAS, 1966-1968.

Esther Neira de Calvo attended numerous international conferences as a representative of the government of Panama. She won many awards and honorary citations over her long career.

Raul J. Calvo, Esther's husband, died in 1958 in Washington, D.C.

Esther Neira de Calvo died at age 87 on March 24, 1978 in Washington, D.C.

[Source:] Curatorial file of the Esther Neira de Calvo Papers.


38.15 Linear Feet (35 boxes)

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian

Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gloriela Calvo, 2007 and 2017.

Esther Neira de Calvo Papers
Processed by Jovana Zujevic and Scott S. Taylor
2010, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057