Frank Espada photographs and papers

Photographs from Frank Espada’s Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project (1979-1981).More »

Browse all 154 Items
View the feature item
Woodworker, Saipan, 1990 espst001001
View the highlight item
Manuel and Hazel Molina. He is a native of... espst001019
View the highlight item
Hawaii, 1980 espst001011
View the highlight item
Santa Rodriguez Carvahlo [i.e., Carvalho?], 1st... espst001013
View the highlight item
Joe and Mina Velez, 2nd generation... espst001010

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.

Source Collection

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, bulk 1964-2000

Collection #RL.00367 | 56.2 Linear Feet; 76 boxes; 3 oversize folders

Frank Espada was a political activist and documentary photographer of Puerto Rican extraction based in New York and California. His photographic archives comprise thousands of black-and-white photographs and negatives and related materials concerning Espada's lifelong work documenting the Puerto Rican diaspora, civil and economic rights movements, indigenous Chamorro communities in Micronesia, and HIV/AIDS outreach in San Francisco. The Puerto Rican Diaspora project also includes over 150 oral history recordings. The Civil Rights series documents voter registration and school desegregation rallies in New York City, 1964-1970, as well as housing and anti-poverty movements, primarily in California. Photographic subjects encompass Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and indigenous peoples, as well as whites and racially mixed people. The professional papers include files related to activism, research and writings, exhibits, teaching, and publicity. The earliest dated item is a 1946 essay by Espada, "What democracy means to me." Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

Collection Guide »

From Our Blog

Labor in the Time of Coronavirus

by Zeke Graves over 1 year ago

The Coronavirus pandemic has me thinking about labor–as a concept, a social process, a political constituency, and the driving force of our economy–in a way that I haven’t in my lifetime. It’s become alarmingly clear (as if it wasn’t before) that we all need food, supplies, and services to survive past next week, and that … Continue reading Labor in the Time of Coronavirus

Resonance of a Moment

by Shadae Gatlin about 2 years ago

Resonance: the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object (Lexico, 2019) Nearly 4 months have passed since I moved to Durham from my hometown Chicago to join Duke’s Digital Collections & Curation Services team. With feelings of reflection and nostalgia, I have been … Continue reading Resonance of a Moment

The preservation of the Duke University Libraries Digital Collections and the Duke Digital Repository programs are supported in part by the Lowell and Eileen Aptman Digital Preservation Fund