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Thursday, March 23, 2023

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<i>Unidos Por La Causa: The Chicano Experience in San Diego</i> is located in the SDSU Library's Reference Services. Unidos Por La Causa: The Chicano Experience in San Diego is located in the SDSU Library's Reference Services.

Library Debuts Chicana/o Archive Collection

Unidos Por La Causa: The Chicana and Chicano Experience in San Diego opens Oct. 20.

On Wednesday Oct. 20, San Diego State University Library and Information Access will celebrate the opening of its new Chicana/o movement archive, the result of four years of work by a committee of dedicated community activists, librarians, faculty, students and administrators.

A focal point of the celebration will be the Library’s new bilingual exhibit Unidos Por la Causa: The Chicana and Chicano Experience in San Diego, a display of photos, art and documents illustrating the early years of the Chicano movement for social justice and civil rights in San Diego.

One of the dramatic presentations in the exhibit are samples of 62 movement-related posters and broadsides produced in the 1960s and 1970s promoting anti-war marches, UFW protests, student conferences and many other cultural and political events, demonstrating the movement's struggle for equal education and its resistance to injustice.

Special reception and lecture

A special reception during the celebration will honor contributors and donors to the archive, followed by a talk by Martín Gómez, director of the Los Angeles Public Library, one of the largest metropolitan library systems in the United States. Gómez’s presentation, “Archiving a Movement,” will discuss how this particular archive is part of a nation-wide revitalization of libraries reflecting increased Latino patronage.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20, in SDSU’s Love Library Rm. 430 and is open to the public. The exhibition is on display in the SDSU Library's Reference Services through Dec.31.

These events are made possible through the generous support of the President’s Leadership Fund, by contributions from SDSU departments and support from individuals and organizations in the San Diego community.

About the project

The Chicana/o Archive Project is the result of four years of work by a committee of dedicated community activists, librarians, faculty, students and administrators. The Chicana/o Archive Advisory Committee has raised more than $16,000 with grants and private fundraising events which has enabled the SDSU Library University Archive and Special Collections to process the materials it has collected.   

A major emphasis of the archive is the selection of primary source materials documenting Chicana feminist activism in the San Diego area. For example, the collection of Enriqueta Chavez includes photographs and manuscripts that document the founding of the student group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA, and the founding of the Department of Chicana/o Studies in 1969, then called Mexican American Studies Centro de Estudios, one of the first in the nation.

Other Chicana feminist collections include the:

  • San Diego Mexican American National Women's Association (MANA) papers, donated by Olivia Puentes Reynolds
  • Charlotte Hernandez-Terry Collection, a tribute to her art and music
  • A 35mm film of the early days of the Chicano studies’ founding donated by Sonia Lopez

Rita Sanchez, the first woman to be hired for a Chicano Studies tenure-track position in 1974, donated the Chicano Studies mission statement and the Chicana journal of student writings she edited, called Vision.

Other major collections include the:

  • Rene Nuñez Tribute Collection, an assemblage of materials honoring the late activist and one of the founders of the Mexican American Studies Department
  • Arturo Casares Collection of photos about the early days of activism in San Diego
  • Leonard Fierro Collection, an homage to the SDSU professor of education, a pioneer of bilingual education in San Diego  

The advisory committee has received collections from more than 20 contributors, some of which remain to be processed. The library is seeking additional collections from individuals and groups who have been part of the Chicana/o movement as students, community workers, teachers or administrators.

The archive committee plans to collaborate with other border universities, colleges and libraries in the region, so that students and others will have access to a wide variety of research materials relating to the history of Latinos during the civil rights struggles in San Diego.  

Donations and more information
For more information about the archive or for those wanting to donate collections or money to benefit the SDSU archive, please contact Richard Griswold del Castillo, chair of the CCS Archive Committee, at 619-246-1555 or, or the SDSU Library’s Department of Special Collections at 619-594-6791 or