CSRC Archival Projects

Since 2001, the CSRC Library has launched major preservation projects related to music, cinema, the visual arts, and the social sciences. Our goal is to preserve the rich and diverse history of the Chicana/o and Latina/o communities for future research, classroom instruction, and the public at large. We work closely with community groups to ensure that our projects not only safeguard the historical record (by archiving important documents) but also contribute to the more immediate needs of the community itself.
To date, these projects have received support from the Center for Community Partnerships, Ford Foundation, Getty Foundation, John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, Los Tigres del Norte Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts - Houston, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, National Endowment for the Humanities, Rockefeller Foundation, UC MEXUS, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Current Projects


Funded in part by a three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project brings together expertise from the UCLA Institute of American Culturesfour ethnic studies centers and their established connections to local advocacy groups. This project builds off of the work of the award-winning UCLA-based Million Dollar Hoods research project, a community-driven initiative that began in 2016 to map the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. The collection will include new oral histories documenting Angelenos’ experiences with law enforcement and incarceration, as well as stories of survival and protest practices. Other materials collected from the community, such as bail bond receipts, mix tapes and poster art, will provide meaningful counterpoints to official police and criminal justice statistics.

Chicano Moratorium 50th Anniversary Project

On August 29, 2020, fifty years after the National Chicano Moratorium took place in Los Angeles, the CSRC publicly launched the Chicano Moratorium 50th Anniversary Project website. With images, exhibitions, an interactive map of the moratorium route, and personal narratives, the site is a free archive-based resource dedicated to the event and how it changed the course of the civil rights movement across the United States for the Chicano-Latino community. In partnership with the People’s History Project in Lincoln Heights and the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences through their Mellon Foundation-funded Community Archives Lab, this website is an on-going project, as we find, digitize, and catalog related archival materials. The community is also able to contribute images and information to the site.

Frontera Collection Online Archive

In October 2001, then CSRC director Guillermo E. Hernandez initiated the digital preservation of the Arhoolie Foundation’s Strachwitz Frontera Collection, the largest repository of Mexican and Mexican American popular and vernacular recordings in existence. To preserve this unique archive of cultural heritage, the CSRC began working with the UCLA Digital Library Program and the UCLA Music Library to digitize the collection, which now includes over 125,000 recordings. The Frontera Collection Online Archive was originally launched on March 26, 2009; it was relaunched in 2015. A related documentary on the project is available here. The digital archive is hosted by the UCLA Digital Library Program. The award-winning The Arhoolie Foundation's Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings, volume 6 in the Chicano Archives book series from CSRC Press, was released in 2012. An exhibition and symposium developed in 2018-19 in collaboration with the UCLA Music Library and with support from UCLA Latino Arts and the UCLA Office of Interdisciplinary & Cross Campus Affairs can be found here and here.

La Raza Photograph Collection

This project is dedicated to preserving, describing, digitizing, and making publicly available a collection of approximately 25,000 photographic images and negatives documenting the Mexican-descent community of Los Angeles between 1967 and 1977. These long inaccessible negatives were recovered in 2013, and represent an unprecedented decade-long photographic project involving eighteen photographers associated with La Raza. The bilingual publication – a tabloid newspaper from 1967-1970 and a magazine from 1970-1977 – developed in the context of community-based journalism that sought broad documentation of events, achievements, and issues reflecting readers’ lives. Since La Raza could only print a small portion of photographs, this collection constitutes a rare and broad visual record of the community during this period.

The LGBT and Mujeres Initiative

The CSRC is committed to increasing its LGBT and women’s collections. This initiative has a fourfold mission: to educate women and LGBT communities about the importance of documenting and preserving Latina and Latino history; to educate Latina and Latino communities about the importance of women’s stories and LGBT history within their archival efforts; to provide women and LGBT Latinas and Latinos with archival materials that can function as a source of pride, inspiration, and new scholarship; and to educate “mainstream” archival institutions about the need for both women’s and LGBT archival holdings and for culturally sensitive collecting and archival practices. To do this, the CSRC will increase its collecting efforts in this area of study. As part of this project, in 2009 the CSRC developed a guide for community archiving that can be used as a model by other repositories and community organizations when working with underrepresented communities and their historical materials. In 2023, as part of the Latina Futures, 2050 Lab, the CSRC hired a Latina Futures Librarian and Archivist to oversee the processing, description, and collection management of CSRC’s Mujeres, LGBTQ+, and other collections featuring women, femmes, and feminine-presenting persons in the Chicanx, Central American, and U.S. Latina/o/x communities. Related articles can be found on the CSRC Post, the blog of the CSRC.
In 2017, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the CSRC Library announced two online LGBT/Mujeres exhibitions produced in partnership with Google Arts & Culture, a not-for-profit initiative that collaborates with cultural organizations to make visual art accessible through a free online platform: Gronk: Speaking in Many Artistic Tones and Joteria: Documenting Queer Latinx in L.A.

Los Angeles Chicano / Latino Photograph COLLECTIONS

The CSRC is addressing the issue of preservation through the digitization of vulnerable collections. The primary goal is to make original photographs from some of our image heavy collections available to the public through an online archive hosted by the UCLA Digital Library. To meet this challenge, the CSRC began by digitizing The Edward R. Roybal Photograph Collection and the Yolanda Retter-Vargas Collection of Orphan Photographs. The first collection documents Edward Roybal’s public service career from the 1940s to the 1990s as a Los Angeles city councilman and a U.S. congressman. The second was collected by the late CSRC librarian Yolanda Retter-Vargas, who found the photographs at various flea markets. This collection consists of “orphan” photographs—images with no provenance information. They appear to belong to six families. Both collections are completed and available on the UCLA Digital Library. The Haynes Foundation has generously continued their support of this important project and the CSRC is currently digitizing the Grace Montañez Davis Papers, the Julian Nava Papers, the Dionicio Morales Papers, and the Ricardo Muñoz Papers. Each of these collections documents the lives of key Mexican American civic leaders in Los Angeles history and their families.

Religion, Spirituality, and Faith in Mexican American Social History, 1940-Present

This three-year project will reflect the role of faith, spirituality and religion in Mexican American culture. Supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the project team will draw from multiple collections that help tell the story of Mexican American lives from 1940 through the present day. With this funding, the CSRC will process recently acquired collections, reprocess legacy collections, and digitally preserve materials consisting of nearly 250 linear feet of documents, 125 audio recordings, and over 14,000 photographs and slides. The collections offer primary sources for research on churches and faith-based organizations in Los Angeles (Church of the Epiphany, Homeboy Industries, Católicos por la Raza), key religious figures (Father Gregory Boyle, Father Richard Estrada, Sister Karen Boccalero), and individuals whose daily and professional life reflect faith-based values (Lupe Anguiano, Joe Ortiz, Josefa L. Serna). For more information, click here.


Completed Projects

Chicano Cinema Recovery Project

The CSRC launched a multi-year initiative in collaboration with the UCLA Film and Television Archive to identify, preserve, and make accessible the independent productions of Chicano and Latino filmmakers. The project restored six films and trailers by pioneer filmmaker Efraín Gutiérrez, among other works. Gutiérrez's work Please, Don't Bury Me Alive!/Por Favor, No Me Entierren Vivo! (1976), considered to be the first Chicano feature film was named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2014. This and other films restored during the project can be purchased as DVDs in the Chicano Cinema and Media Art series.

EStablishing the CSRC Archival Program

This project responded to the fact that the CSRC’s numerous special collections—housed in the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF)—had never been processed. The CSRC established an archival program, hire an archivist, process existing collections, and prepare grant proposals for the acquisition and processing of new collections. The CSRC also established a pipeline of new collections in the following areas: Latino Los Angeles (all areas); and, nationally, in music, media, performing arts, and the visual arts.

Providing Access to Mexican American Social History in Los Angeles, 1960s and 1970s

Complementing the archival preservation project "Post-WWII Generation of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles" received support to arrange, describe, and digitize seven archival collections of newspapers, magazines, personal papers, correspondence, photographs, and other materials as part of a project specific to the Mexican Americans in Los Angeles in the 1960s and ’70s. The seven collections are La Raza Newspaper and Magazine Records, Sal Castro Papers, Moctesuma Esparza Papers, Luis Garza Papers, Rosalio Muñoz Papers, David Sanchez Papers, and Esteban Torres Papers. The seven collections totaled approximately 506 linear feet of materials. Each of the processed collections can be researched through the Online Archive of California (OAC).

The Post-WWII Generation of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles

This three-year project (2012-2015) involved arranging, describing, digitizing, and providing access to five archival collections that provide invaluable materials related to the histories of the post–World War II generation of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. These collections – the Edward R. Roybal Papers, the Grace Montañez Davis Papers, the Julian Nava Papers, the Dionicio Morales Papers, and the Ricardo Muñoz Papers – document three broad areas: (1) nearly a century of personal, familial and social life among Mexican Americans in Los Angeles, (2) the rise of Mexican American civic participation following World War II, and (3) the professional development and careers of exemplary civic leaders in local, national, and international contexts since the late 1940s. Common threads and historical connections run through the collections, making for a dynamic resource that goes beyond the documentation of individual biographies, providing evidence for the difficult entrance of a minority generational cohort into civic participation, first at a local level, then with respect to national politics and international relations. Each of the processed collections can be researched through the Online Archive of California (OAC).

Los Angeles Latino Art Survey

The goal of this project is to survey documentary materials related to the development of Latino art organizations in Southern California dating back to the 1960s. The project has consisted of interviewing personnel from various Latino art organizations in the Los Angeles area and individuals—many of them artists—who participated in arts organizations and artist collectives. The intention is to collect not only the social and institutional history of the entities that supported, exhibited, and otherwise circulated Chicana/o and Latina/o art in this area but also the histories of the individual artists involved in these movements.
This project identified historical materials, including organizational records and artists’ personal papers, which needed to be archived for preservation. Among them were four collections that have now been incorporated into the CSRC Archive:
The Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles Archive [1984-2004]
The Plaza de la Raza Archive [1970-2000]
The Adobe L.A Collection [1992–2005]
The Nancy Tovar Murals of East L.A. Collection

Lesbian / Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles

This was a collaborative project between the CSRC, the UCLA Library, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW), and the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives. It was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities for 2011-2014. The project was aimed at documenting early Lesbian history in Los Angeles since the 1930s. It included the preservation of 93 archival collections and over 700 hours of recorded sound and moving images that were digitized and will be made accessible through the UCLA Digital Library. A resource guide to these collections was published by the CSW in 2014 and is available online.

Self-Help Graphics and Art: Preserving Cultural Heritage

This project represents a community partnership with Self-Help Graphics and Art in East Los Angeles. Work included an inventory of Self-Help’s on-site collections and development of a computer management system and archival internship program. Self-Help also donated a representative suite of prints to the CSRC Library. In February 2004, the CSRC and Self-Help hosted a Latino Arts Summit for L.A.-based Latino arts organizations in order to address preservation and access issues related to their archival holdings.

Visiones Archival Project

Visiones was a collaborative project with the CSRC, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), and Hector Galan Productions. There were three components to the CSRC Visiones Archival Project: (1) the acquisition and processing of NALAC’s document collection, (2) the acquisition of the Visiones documentary series archive, and (3) the solicitation of NALAC member organizations nationwide to participate in the Visiones archival project. NALAC’s holdings document the organization’s role in developing arts spaces and maintaining connections among established arts organizations. Galan’s documentary collection is stored at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. This raw footage includes hundreds of hours of interviews with Latino writers, musicians, arts scholars and artists.