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Juan Manuel Bilbao Azkarreta, also known as Jon Bilbao Basque, (October 31, 1914-Mary 23, 1994) was a professor, political and bibliographer, and Basque patriot.



Early life and education

Juan Manuel Bilbao Azkarreta was born on October 31, 1914 in Cayey, Puerto Rico. His father, Juan Bilbao, born in Getxo (Bizkaia) had gone to 12 years, in 1870, in Cayey "to the Americas." How well were the business 45 years returned to his old village of "Osabene" become an "Indian" rich, and could marry the mundaquesa Matilde Azkarreta. Shortly thereafter, the new marriage Cayey decided to return to where he was born his only son, Juan Manuel, who in 1917 came with his parents to the Basque country where he spent his childhood and youth.

Cursa years of secondary education at the college of the PP. Jesuits in Bilbao and in the middle "Martínez Rivas" in 1932 obtained the title "Bachelor of Science at the University of Valladolid. Between 1932 and 1936 living in the "Student Residence" of the Universidad Central de Madrid where he met J. Caro Baroja. Cursa career here for Philosophy and Literature, specializing in history, achieving a degree in Medieval History of Spain with Latin and Arabic as the language requirements. The couple lived with Jon Bilbao Republican illusion that time because he dreamed that the new Statute of Autonomy came the much desired Basque University, and also by the quality of education provided by teachers and M. García Morente, X. Zubiri, J. Ortega y Gasset, C. Sánchez Albornoz, J. Besteiro, Fernando de los Rios, etc. The latter, who was then Minister of Education of the Second Spanish Republic, encourages you to deepen their roots in Basque with the following words: "If you want to be universal, get into the soul of its people." This prompted him to dive sheets to fill in History Review of Biscay and its Fueros (1924) Gregorio Balparda, advised by Prof. José M ª Lacarra. But this is exciting times truncate the July 18, 1936 by the outbreak of the Civil War, while J. Bilbao fulfilled his military service from June 1 at the headquarters of Garellano (Bilbao). Undoubtedly, J. Bilbao immediately decide to enroll in "Eusko Gudarosteak (Basque Battalions) and up to volunteer to head Otxandiano (Bizkaia) by taking part in the war as a lieutenant of engineers in the years 1936 and 1937.

On June 20, 1937, the day after the fall of Bilbao in the rebel troops of Franco, J. Bilbao managed to escape at night in the boat-motor "Sagrada Familia" from Zierbena (Bizkaia) to Bayonne. Two months later, he embarks on Bordeaux to arrive at the island of Guadeloupe (Caribbean), and later to Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, during the first ten years of his long exile, you can not see her parents who have been in Getxo. Moreover, at the University of Puerto Rico made contact with exiled professors as María Zambrano, but in 1938 opted to enroll at Harvard University (Boston) to get a degree. Equipped with the constancy of the tireless scribes of the Middle Ages, J. Bilbao pass countless hours in the Boston Public Library in sifting through dictionaries, encyclopedias and biographies English to fill chips in 1970 to become the basis for his monumental Bibliografia Eusko, one of the most interesting projects in the history of culture Basque and Basque research tool for decades.

In 1938 he moved from Boston to New York and enrolled at Columbia University where he resumed his studies in Madrid getting his degree in May 1939, after having written the thesis on "Popular culture in the work of Lope García Salazar" Basque historian of the fifteenth century, with the advice of Professor Federico de Onis. Also followed in this institution the Phonetics and Phonology courses offered by the prestigious professor Tomás Navarro Tomás. Also continues to delve into Basque RIEV magazine (Revista de Estudios Vascos Intenacional) and other publication is gathering information on your favorite topics: prehistory, history, ethnography, anthropology and physics Lingística. Moreover, in 1939, connects the city of skyscrapers and the Basque Delegation and was appointed deputy director of the Basque Government to the orders of Manu de la Sota. Shortly after he was sent to Boise (Idaho) to investigate ways of life of the Basque shepherds and raise funds for the Basque Government. This study began in the Basque Biscayan to connect better with the shepherds who were the majority of Bizkaia. Basically, all services provided by J. Bilbao (including Eusko Bibliographia) had as its goal the last struggle for freedom and self-Euskadi at a very delicate and difficult time.

In September 1940, leaving up to Boise and the University of California Berkeley where he spends the years 1940-1942 following the doctorate courses. A pulse of his vocation globetrotter passes east of the country where he teaches as an instructor of Spanish in the LingÁística Institute of South Carolina (1942) and Columbia University (1942-1944). Meanwhile, in 1943, attained U.S. citizenship by registering in his name forward in the Basque Jon passport. In 1944 its activity increases in New York: the continuation of the doctoral courses, the work of its director and editor of Eusko Bibliographia; publication of the Basques (with M. de la Sota, A. Irala) as member of the Basque Delegation, given their participation as a representative in the Basque Belgian Office for Latin America in the struggle with fascism, publishing it as associate editor for two journals: The Journal Belge (1944) and Ambos Mundos (1945-46). Therefore, completion of the Second World War, J. Bilbao was decorated as Knight of the Order of the Belgian Crown. In 1945, after finishing the doctorate courses is designated candidate for the Ph.D. or doctorate at Columbia University. However, the tremendous work of Eusko Bibliographia and the new direction that will impede your life climbing the last steps in getting that title.

In 1947, after a long decade of exile (1937-1947), J. Bilbao Basque Country was able to return to the mainland and in avecindó Sara (Laburdi) where he worked for three years (1947-1950) with the ethnologist JM Barandiaran acting secretary in drafting magazines Eusko-Jakintza. Revista de Estudios Vascos Ikuska in 1949 and, thanks to American passport, J. Bilbao can pass the border and travel to Madrid, where he works a few months processing chips and researching in the libraries. In 1950 he completed an important part of their literature that an official representative of the Institute of Hispanic Culture is ready to publish subject to delete the entries relating to Basque nationalism. Obviously, the bibliographer Basque rejected such a bid, although it was never a nationalist "classic" (place of birth, religion, hobbies, tastes, etc.). Never hid their patriotism or their affiliation to the Basque PNV, which was not prevented, sometimes show loyalty from their differences of opinion with regard to their party.

Bound by the management of economic affairs of his family, J. Bilbao moved to Cuba in 1950 where it remains during the period 1950-1954. Enter here the book entitled Basque Cuba: 1492-1511, which will be published in 1958 in Buenos Aires Ekin editorial.

Getxo in 1954 he returned to his family (wife and two children) joined the Basque resistance through friends near the PNV. For the sake of preparing its books, has worked since 1957 in Bilbao where he was arrested in 1958 by Franco's police. Thanks to his American passport was not imprisoned but in 1960 he was declared "persona non grata and expelled from the country. Leaving the family in Getxo, resides in Biarritz, but after a year, is expelled by the French police. Therefore, the December 8, 1960 decided to return to the U.S. this year and goes to investigate in the prestigious Library of Congress in Washington. Traveler unrepentant and regular visitor of libraries and archives, J. Bilbao to Biarritz in 1961 returns for the years 1961-1964 and investigated in several countries: France, United Kingdom (Oxford), Germany, Austria, etc.., Seeking more information for bibliografía.En part in the famous 1964 "collusion of Munich "so your wife will be expelled from Spain and J. Bilbao will not be allowed to go there for six years. In such circumstances, decides to return to the USA and the rest of the years you have left for retirement, their daily work will focus on two objectives: the teaching and especially the processing of library materials. Teaches Spanish at Georgetown University in 1964-1965, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis (Maryland) in 1966-1968. In addition, during the years 1965-1968 is beginning to prepare for the printing material processing in many years.

The year 1968 is a key date in the life of J. Bilbao because he was invited by the director of the Basque Studies Program of Nevada, Reno, the young anthropologist WA Douglass, who had opened a year before the center. Among his academic duties is teaching a history course as a teacher of Basque Country Basque Studies, and especially the establishment of the foundations of the Basque Collection ", the best library in the Basque diaspora. This jewel of the "Special Collection" of UNR is largely the result of deliberate effort, silent and bibliographer of the self, if in 1968 the library of the BSP had about 3,000 volumes in 1980 (year of retirement for J . bilbao) this figure rose to around 25,000 entries. Moreover, in the summer of 1970 published in the Editorial Auñamendi (Donostia) Lasa Estornés of Brothers, the first of ten volumes of his Eusko Bibliographia project covering some 400,000 entries and the publication of which will last several years (1970 -- 1977). It will sell 10,000 units of each of the ten volumes reaching a total of 100,000. Later in 1984, UPV / EHU published three other volumes include producing literature covering the years 1976-1980.

In another vein, J. Bilbao in 1970 was appointed director of the "Summer Courses Basque Studies", in the decade 1970-1980 was organized five in Ustaritz, Arantzazu Loiola, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Oñate. He was also one of the organizers of NAFO (North American Basque Organizations, 1972). In the summer of 1971, with his colleague and friend WA Douglass, visiting eight Latin American countries visiting universities, libraries, "euskal-Etxeak" or Basque centers in search of a wealth of material that three years later would result in the book Amerikanuak. Basques in the New World (1974, Basques in the New World). It is a history of the Basques in the American West; work that marks a milestone in the long list of books published by University Press Series in the UNR Basque, Basque and presents the world without geographical limitations. Contumazá initiator of new projects in 1977 also achieved a scholarship to study in the Philippines where Basque emigration moves to investigate the files of those islands. Such effort could not go without recognition and in 1977 on the occasion of homage by the UNR is published in the Reno-book tribute Anglo-American Contributions to Basque Studies: Essays in honor of Jon Bilbao.

Following his retirement from the University of Reno in 1980 is distinguished as "professor emeritus" in 1981. Back to the Basque Country is full of enthusiasm to undertake two new projects: the Institute of Basque Studies Library and Institute for the Study of the Basque Diaspora. During the first two years, the winds were favorable due to the aid of several Basque entities: the three Councils, the Basque Government, the Universities of Reno and the Basque Country and the Caja de Ahorros Municipal de Vitoria who generously allowed him to move to the Institution Sancho el Sabio. It provides in-house library of Getxo and weekly working time will alternate between his people and Vitoria. Over time, the Department of Culture of the Basque Government financial aid is decreasing and J. Bilbao created the "International Association of Basque Literature" with the help of prominent personalities of Basque culture. Moreover, in 1987 founded the "Harrilucea Association for the Study of History" with a desire to open a museum and a library in Getxo. Unfortunately some of these plans were the unfinished Symphony "Unfinished" by Schubert. The initial hopes and expectations were followed the sadness and disappointment in him and some of his friends and collaborators.


Marriage and children

Indeed, the February 10, 1945, J. Bilbao is home in Havana with Marta Saralegui (daughter of a benefactor of the Basque cause in Cuba) with the assistance of JA Lehendakari Aguirre as best man. From this marriage a daughter born in 1948 in Biarritz Amal and son Jon in 1953 in Havana. J. Bilbao's first marriage after divorce, married again in 1985 with the U.S. Ms. Gayle Slavin in Reno (NV).

Death and afterward

On March 30, 1994 J. Bilbao suffered the first stroke while working in Vitoria and was admitted to the Sanatorium Gorliz in a rehabilitation program. Unfortunately, after a second attack that could not be restored, died on May 23 to 79 years of age.


His work was recognized by the Basque institutions and J. Bilbao was distinguished on several occasions: UNR professor emeritus in 1981, corresponding member of the Basque Academy in 1973 and honorary member since June 19, 1987; partner Bascongada of the Society of Friends of the Country since November 20 of 1981; member of the Hall of Fame in 1988 by the Society of Basque Studies in USA, doctor honoris causa by the UPV / EHU since November 9, 1995.


  • OBRA Jon Bilbao. Eusko Bibliographia (10 volúmenes). Donostia. Ed. Auñamendi. 1970-1981.
  • Jon Bilbao. Eusko Bibliographia (1976-1980) (3 volúmenes). Leioa. UPV/EHU, 1985.
  • Jon Bilbao. Eusko Bibliographia 1981-1985. Leioa. UPV/EHU, 1996.
  • Jon Bilbao. Anuario de Bibliografía 1981. Vitoria-Gasteiz.
  • Consejo de Cultura de la Diputación Foral de Álava. 1983. Jon Bilbao.
  • Vascos en Cuba 1492-1511. Buenos Aires. Ed. Ekin. 1958.

William A. Douglass, Jon Bilbao. Amerikanuak. Basques in the New World. Reno. University of Nevada. 1975.

  • Jon Bilbao. "La cultura tradicional en la obra de Lope García Salazar", Eusko Jakintza, 1948, II: 229-264.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Pierre Loti y el País Vasco", en Gernika, 1950, nº 11: 64-67.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Tres cartas de Unamuno sobre el habla de Bilbao y los "maketos" de Vizcaya", en Boletín del Instituto Americano de Estudios Vascos, 1955, VI, nº 21: 67-79.
  • Jon Bilbao. "The Basque Library of the University of Nevada", en Basque Studies Program Newsletter, 1969, nº 2: 7-8.
  • Jon Bilbao. "First Basque Studies Summer Session Abroad" en, Basque Studies Program Newsletter, 1970, nº 4: 3-4.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Conferencia pronunciada por Jon Bilbao Azkarreta en la Biblioteca Nacional", en Bilduma, 1994, nº 8: 119-137.
  • Jon Bilbao. "The Basque Governors of California", en Basque Studies Program Newsletter, 1970, nº 3: 3-5.
  • Jon Bilbao. "The Basque Library Collection", en Basque Studies Program Newslette, 1973, nº 8: 3-7.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Consul of the United States of the port of Bilbao", en Basque Studies Program Newslette, 1976, nº 14: 4-8.
  • Jon Bilbao, "Basques in the Philippine Islands", en Basque Studies Program Newslette, 1979, nº 20:3-6.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Sobre la Leyenda de Jaun Zuria primer Señor de Vizcaya", en Amigos del País, hoy. Bilbao, 1982, I, 235-263.
  • Jon Bilbao, "Bibliografía del libro vasco", en X Congreso de Estudios Vascos. Iruñea. Eusko Ikaskuntza, 1987: 125-128.
  • Jon Bilbao. "Bibliografía", en I Congreso General de Historia de Navarra, Príncipe de Viana, 19987 (Anejo 6): 55-61.
  • Jon Bilbao. "La Biblioteca vasca de la Universidad de Nevada. Reno", en Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos, 1987: 165-174.


  • Arana, J.A. "Jon Bilbao Azkarreta", en Euskera, 1994, 2: 611-615.
  • Arteche, J. "Vascos de Cuba", en Boletín de la Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País, 1959, XIV: 569-570.
  • Aulestia, G. "Lo vasco y los vascos en la Universidad Americana", en Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos, 1998, 1, nº 43: 89-92.
  • Aurre, G. "Eusko bibliographia umezurtz", en Muga, 1994, nº 89: 48-51.
  • Douglass, W.A. "Agur Jon", en Deia (suplemento Igandea), 5-VI-1994; 10.
  • Estornés Lasa, Hnos. Enciclopedia General Ilustrada del País Vasco, vol. 2, San Sebastián, Ed. Auñamendi, 1972: 55-56.
  • Garriga, G. "Vascos en Cuba: 1452-1511", en Boletín Americano del Instituto de Estudios Vascos, 1958, IX, nº 34: 135-136.
  • Granja, J.L. "La hemeroteca vasca de la Universidad de Nevada Reno", en Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos, 1987, XXXII, nº 1: 175-179.
  • Herce, A. "Jon Bilbao, un bibliógrafo 'desestabilizador' ", en Arbola, 1986, nº 0: 28-30.
  • Knörr, E. "Una tarea ingente", en El Correo Español El Pueblo Vasco, 24-V-1994: 50.
  • Lasa Apalategui, J. "Bibliógrafo vasco en la Universidad de Reno Estado de Nevada, USA", en Universidad Vasca, Vitoria, Itxaropena, 1976: 109-119.
  • Laxalt, R. "Foreword", en Amerikanuak. Basques in the New World, Reno, University of Nevada, 1975.
  • Moreno, L. "La Eusko Bibliographia de Jon Bilbao", en Eusko Bibliographia 1981-1985 vol. I, Leioa, UPV/EHU: XXI-XLVI.
  • Moreno, L. "Jon Bilbao Azkarreta y su Eusko Bibliographia: una vida al servicio de su país y de la ciencia", en Bilduma, 1994, nº 8: 101-111.
  • San Martín, J. "Eusko Bibliograhia", en Egan, 1978-1979, XXXVIII, 332-333. San Sebastián, K. The Basque Archives. Vascos en Estados Unidos (1938-1943) , Donostia, Ed. Txertoa, 1991: 393-509.
  • Urza, C. "Jon Bilbao en Reno: 1968-1983", en Cuadernos de Cultura, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Diputación Foral de Álava, 1983, nº 4: 113-117.
  • Varios. Anglo-American contributions to Basque Studies: Essays in honor of Jon Bilbao. Reno. University of Nevada, 1977.
  • Varios. "Jon Bilbao, bibliógrafo ", en Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País. Bilbao, Col. Lanak nº 15, 1996.
  • White, L. "Su contribución a la historia", en Deia (suplemento Igandea), 5-VI-1994: 10.

G. A. Tx.

  • Zulaika, J. "Un estudioso del mundo vasco", en Deia (suplemento Igandea), 5-VI-1994: 11.


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