Latino Arts & Activisms


The mission of the Latino Arts and Activisms (LAAS) collections at Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library is to identify and acquire the papers and records of Latinos and Latino organizations in New York and related regions that may be of enduring significance as research resources. Areas of principal interest include the arts, politics, and community-based organizations.

The collection was founded in 2012 by Professor Frances Negrón-Muntaner, who also serves as curator. 

The first acquired papers were those of writer and community activist Jack Agüeros. The collection's greatest strength is in the manuscript and visual materials of key community organizations and prominent figures in politics, literature, and art from the second half of the twentieth century to the present. The included papers to date provide essential access to the cultural, literary, and journalistic production of Latinos in New York and other parts of the United States. In addition, the archive represents an indispensable resource for understanding the migration and settlement of U.S. Latinos, particularly in the Northeast. It also offers insight into how Latinos have organized to pursue fundamental civil rights. 

The collection contains materials in various languages, most prominently English and Spanish. Whereas New York and the greater Northeast are essential geographical areas, the collection includes materials of figures whose work and lives developed in other countries but had a fundamental impact on U.S. Latinos. We collect many materials, including manuscripts, letters, recordings, films, rare publications, and small-scale art. We offer special attention to acquiring materials related to subject areas where the archive is already robust, including Latino arts, literature, and culture; Latino politics and organizing; and links between Latinos in the U.S. and their countries of origin.

To inquire about donations, please contact Adjunct Curator for Latino Arts and Activisms and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities, Frances Negrón-Muntaner.

To make a research appointment or a reference inquiry, please contact the Library at


The Latino Arts and Activisms collections hold primarily archives of Puerto Rican contributors spanning a few decades. To best reflect New York's significant Latino diversity, we must widen the scope to include archival materials from all Latino sources and historical periods. In addition, we must digitize the archives so they can become accessible worldwide, for free, on the web.

  • Access to the collections at present is possible by visiting Columbia Libraries, yet relatively little is digitized. Though the cost of ensuring global access is substantial, the benefits are compelling.

  • We must acquire new materials and safeguard them: some creators of these archival treasures cannot store and protect materials. These valuable resources must be cataloged and digitized to preserve their value and make them accessible.

  • Climate changes in areas where many Latino archival materials are found such as catastrophic storms, flooding, mold, extreme temperatures, and humidity pose increasingly severe risks to the integrity of these materials. We must be prepared to keep them safe.

Make your gift today!