Guide to the Frank Espada Photographs
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1395
Creators:
Espada, Jason
Espada, Frank, 1930-
Dates:
1962-2008, undated
Languages:
Collection is in
English
. Some materials in
Spanish
.
Physical Description:
22 Cubic feet
59 boxes
Repository:
Collection consists of photographic materials taken by Frank Espada, mostly images from the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, which documents these communities across the Unites States. In addition, there are materials relating to his earlier work documenting civil rights activities and HIV/AIDS awareness, also in the United States during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Photographs and negatives taken by Frank Espada, mostly images from his most well-known body of work, The Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, which consists of several hundred prints and thousands of negatives of Puerto Rican communities across the Unites States. The purpose the project was to establish the national presence of Puerto Ricans in the United States, to celebrate Puerto Rican culture and Latinidad, and to make a political statement.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Collection is arranged into five series.
Series 1: Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, 1962-2008, undated
Sub-Series 1.1: Photographic and Digital Prints, 1962-1986, undated
Sub-Series 1.2: Proofs, 1979-1986, undated
Sub-Series 1.3: Contact Sheets and Negatives, 1964-1987, undated
Sub-Series 1.4: Interviews, 1980-1982, undated
Sub-Series 1.5: Site Notebooks, 1981-1985, undated
Sub-Series 1.6: Exhibition Materials, 1967-2008, undated
Sub-Series 1.7: Newspaper Clippings, 1983-2007
Series 2: Civil Rights Era Materials, 1963-1974, undated
Sub-Series 2.1: Black and White Prints, 1963-1974, undated
Sub-Series 2.2: Proofs, Negatives, and Contact Sheets, 1963-1968
Sub-Series 2.3: Slides, 1969
Series 3: Personal Papers, 1966-2007, undated
Series 4: Out of School Youth (OSY) Project, 1989
Series 5: Youth Environment Study (YES) Project, 1989-1991

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Francisco Luis Espada Roig, later known as Frank Espada, was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico in December 1930. He and his family migrated to New York City in 1939. He attended public school and after high school, briefly attended City College of New York. In 1949, he joined the Air Force.
In 1952 he married his wife, Marilyn. They had three children, Lisa, Jason, and Martin. Espada began working for an electrical contractor to provide for his family, a job he would hold for ten years.
There followed a second stint in the Air Force, during the Korean War, and then, in 1954, Espada began attending the New York Institute of Photography on the GI Bill. In the late 50s and early 1960s, influenced by mentors such as important New York-based photographers Dave Heath and the legendary W. Eugene Smith, Espada became intent on pursuing what he called his "first love," documentary photography, but this dream had to be delayed.
From the early 60s on, he became heavily involved in the New York community and the Civil Rights Movement, organizing voter registration drives, rent strikes, and marches for civil rights. He photographed many subjects in New York throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including the civil rights era. Because he was close to Puerto Rican activists and communities, he photographed these as well.
In the 1970s, he was a Ford Foundation Fellow working with the Drug Abuse Council. In 1979, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was finally able to receive income from photography. This fellowship allowed him to pursue his "life-long dream of shooting a major documentary" on the Puerto Rican diaspora. He documented Puerto Rican communities and the Puerto Rican experience around the United States, including Hawaii and Guam.
In 1985, Espada moved to San Francisco and was given the opportunity to teach at the UC Berkeley Extension Program. He discovered that he loved to teach, which resulted in what he referred to as "eighteen of the best years of my life," and he was revered by his students.
In 1989 he joined forces with the Youth Environment Studies (YES), documenting the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2005 he retired from teaching and continued working on his book, encompassing his documentation of Puerto Rican communities. The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People, reproducing many of his photographs with his incisive, poignant text was published in 2007, twenty-eight years after the Diaspora project had begun.
Frank Espada was an activist for justice and an important documentary photographer in the "socially conscious" tradition, who wrote: 'The purpose of showing my work is to get young people thinking, to stimulate their minds and hearts, to make conditions known, and to attack injustices wherever they exist." In his later years, he turned to color photography and landscapes for personal artistic expression. He passed away in February of 2014 from a heart problem.

Administration
Author
Edwin A. Rodriguez and Irmarie Fraticellí-Rodriguez, interns, supervised by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, archivist, 2017. María Daniela Z. Jiménez, archivist, 2019.
Sponsor
This collection received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, and the funds were used to purchase the collection from Jason Espada.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection was purchased from Frank Espada's son Jason Espada with funds from the Latino Initiatives Pool.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Edwin A. Rodriguez, intern, and Irmarie Fraticelli-Rodríguez, intern; supervised by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, 2017; Additional material processed by María Daniela Z. Jiménez, archivist, 2019.
Existence and Location of Copies
Oral history interviews in Subseries 4.1 are available digitally. See repository for details.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Frank Espada Photographs, circa 1962-2008, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Some ethnographic materials in this collection are restricted because participants did not sign release forms. Restricted materials are part of series 4 and housed in boxes 57 and 59. Material may not be accessed or used until 2064.

Materials at Other Organizations
Materials at Other Organizations
Duke University Libraries
The Frank Espada Papers and Photographs collection consists largely of photographic prints, contact sheets, proofs, and negatives, chiefly dating from the mid-1970s through 2010, relating to Espada's Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, his project work on indigenous Chamorro communities in Micronesia, primarily in Guam, Tinian, and Saipan, and his work documenting HIV/AIDS outreach and education in San Francisco. The largest body of materials, which includes photographs as well as manuscripts and recorded interviews, derives from Espada's work with the Puerto Rican communities which spanned several decades. A smaller group of materials, nineteen prints, associated contacts and negatives and several folders of documents, were created through Espada's activism in the Civil Rights Movement for voter registration and school desegregation in New York City from 1962-1970.
Other materials include research files on documentary topics he was currently investigating; materials used in preparation for his many photography project exhibits, large and small; teaching syllabi and notes from his photography courses; awards and memorabilia; and other manuscript and printed materials from his career in photography.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs
The Puerto Rican diaspora, between 1979 and 1981
83 photographic prints
Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library and Archives
[Frank Espada: artist file]
1 folder. Folder may contain clippings, press releases, brochures, reviews, small exhibition catalogs, resumés, other ephemera.

Related Materials
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Quince Años Documentation, NMAH.AC1163
López Negrete Communications Advertising Collection, NMAH.AC1413
Exiles in America: Cuban Pedro Pans and Balseros, NMAH.AC1377
Division of Science, Medicine, and Society HIV/AIDS Reference Collection, NMAH.AC1134
Manuel Quiles Films, NMAH.AC0765
Puerto Rico Division of Community Education Poster Collection, NMAH.AC0615
Spanish Language Broadcasting Collection, NMAH.AC1404
Goya Foods, Incorporated Collection, NMAH.AC.0694
John-Manuel Andriote Victory Deferred Collection, NMAH.AC1128

More Information

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Posters -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newsletters -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photography of immigrants Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Documentary photography Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Immigrant communities Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Immigrants -- Puerto Rican -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Catalogs -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Digital images -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contact sheets -- 20th cenury Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notebooks -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Negatives -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
HIV/AIDS awareness Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American youth Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Latinos in American society and culture Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hispanic American youth Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audio cassettes -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slides (photographs) -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
https://americanhistory.si.edu/archives