About the Digital Collection
Frank Espada (b. 1930) began photographing Puerto Rican immigrants in the U.S. in the late 1950s. From 1979 to 1981, with support from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he focused his creative energies on documenting Puerto Rican communities and their struggle to survive and thrive in America. In his photographic survey of the Puerto Rican diaspora, Espada visited over thirty four communities across the United States and its territories. Photographs from this project have been exhibited across the country and eventually led to the publication of The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People in 2006.
The Frank Espada Photographs digital collection provides online access to a small portion (25 photographs) of Espada's larger The Puerto Rican Diaspora project, specifically focusing on rural migration in Hawaii and Pennsylvania, and urban migration in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. The remainder of the photographs and papers that preserve the stories of the communities he visited are available for research and study in the Frank Espada Photographs and Papers, 1946-2010, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. This archival collection of over 16,000 items joins the Library’s Archive of Documentary Arts’ growing collections of Latin American and Caribbean materials, including the work of photographers James Karales and Mel Rosenthal, both of whom documented Puerto Rican communities in New York City during the 1960s and 1980s.
This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Frank Espada photographs and papers 1946-2010
Collection #RL.00367 | 45 Linear Feet; 51 boxes; 2 oversize folders
Political activist and documentary photographer of Puerto Rican extraction based in California. Collection consists largely of black-and-white photographic prints, contact sheets, proofs, and negatives, chiefly dating from the mid-1960s through 2010, relating to Espada's Puerto Rican diaspora documentary project, his project work on indigenous Chamorro communities in Micronesia, and his documentary work on HIV/AIDS outreach and education in San Francisco. The Puerto Rican Diaspora materials include over 100 oral history recordings. A smaller group of photographic and manuscript materials derive from Espada's participation in civil rights movements on behalf of voter registration and school desegregation in New York City, 1962-1970, and discriminatory housing and poverty, primarily in California. Other materials include research files on other documentary topics he was currently investigating; materials related to exhibits; teaching materials from his photography courses; and other manuscript and printed materials from his career. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.