Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires El Diario Photo Archive

The collection, which dates from the 1960’s and includes over 5,000 photographs, documents the lives of New York City’s Latino population, their struggles and their contributions to the city and its culture.

“This is a unique and very important resource. It is a vivid chronicle of the social, political and cultural life of the diverse Latino population of New York that will be available not only to our faculty and students but will attract scholars from all over the world,” James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. “Photographs have a very important place in how scholars do their research.”

This acquisition supports an ongoing initiative with Columbia's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race to collect papers and records of Latino artists and activists in New York.  Last year’s acquisition of the collection of Puerto Rican poet Jack Agüeros marked the beginning of this initiative. 

As part of El Diario’s centennial celebration this year, some of the images will be exhibited at the Columbia University Medical Center and elsewhere in the city, and some currently appear on the newspaper’s website.

The collection includes photos of entertainers, politicians, community events, parades, protests, and sporting events: Mayor David Dinkins at the 1990 Puerto Rican Day parade, children at a Three Kings Day celebration in East Harlem, Fernando Ferrer campaigning for Bronx borough president in 1986, and Tito Puente playing the timbales on Sesame Street with Elmo, among many others. 

“This means New Yorkers and beyond will have a better understanding of the Latino narrative,” said Erica Gonzalez (J’05), executive editor and managing editor of El Diario. “That’s critical in a city that’s 30 percent Hispanic.”

Further information on the acquisition can be found on Columbia News site.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year.  The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.