Guide to the Frank Espada photographs and papers, 1946-2010 and undated, bulk 1975-2010
Political activist and documentary photographer of Puerto Rican extraction based in California. 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 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 the Civil Rights Movement on behalf of voter registration and school desegregation in New York City, 1962-1970. Other materials include research files on documentary topics he was currently investigating; materials related to photography project exhibits; teaching materials from his photography courses; and other manuscript and printed materials from his career. Acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Frank Espada photographs and papers
- 1946-2010 and undated, bulk 1975-2010
- Espada, Frank, 1930-
- 45 Linear Feet, approximately 16,441 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
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.
The photographic materials have been arranged in series according to format: Contact Sheets and Prints; Negatives; Loose Proofs; Manuscript Materials; Photographic Prints; and Audiovisual Materials. there is also an oversize materials grouping at the end of the collection.
Acquired by the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Frank Espada Photographs and Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Houses Frank Espada's contact sheets and proofs from his work on the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, the Chamorro Documentary Project, and his projects documenting San Francisco's Youth Environment Study (YES) in 1989-1990, the Civil Rights Movement in 1964, along with other various small projects. These have been sorted into contact sheets and proofs, arranged by project and then by location or number, using a numbering scheme developed by Espada that reaches across his negatives and contact sheets.
Negatives have been removed to their own non-circulating boxes, beginning at Box 16.
These are not the only proofs present in the collection. There is also a series of Loose Proofs that have not been sleeved, but have been sorted by project. Refer to the Detailed Description for more information on that series.
In addition, a third series in the collection contains Prints from several of Espada's projects.
The photographs from the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project were taken in over 30 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. They have been grouped according to location, using Espada's own numbering scheme to help connect negatives to contact sheets. Missing numbers have been noted below each heading. Most proofs have only a location or event designation, with no matching numbers accompanying the image. Locations including California, Milwaukee, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. Most locations have sub-groups that are listed in greater detail below. Bulk dates from the project range from 1979-1981, with some as early as 1976.
Scenes include Kona, Kohala, a macadamia farm, Kukuihaele, Honolulu, Shinko House (Honolulu), a Puerto Rican Softball League, Hilo, and Kalihi Valley.
This subseries includes contact sheets, proofs, and some prints for a range of smaller projects undertaken by Espada, including his photography from the Civil Rights movement and voter registration in New York, 1962-1970, and the HIV/AIDS crisis in San Francisco.
Contact sheets and proofs from Espada's documentary project on the indigenous Chamorro people, focusing on Micronesia, primarily Guam, Tinian, and Saipan, 1990. Also includes a set of several hundred images on contact sheets, taken during a festival in support of Chamorro people, held in Vallejo, California in 1989.
Arrangement parallels the arrangement of the contact sheets and proofs of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, the Other Projects, and the Chamorro Documentary Project subseries.
Original negatives are restricted to access and have been removed into non-circulating boxes for preservation purposes.
Along with the sleeved proofs that have been filed with the contact sheets in the Contact Sheets and Proofs series (above), the collection contains thousands of loose proofs that are sorted by event or location, but have not been matched to a contact sheet or negative. This series includes proofs from the Puerto Rican Diaspora and the Chamorro Documentary projects, as well as miscellaneous, unlabelled proofs.
Proofs have been sorted by project and location, and any accompanying information has been transcribed below. Each box contains smaller shoebox-style boxes of proofs, so container types are designated as 21.1, 21.2, and so on, to distinguish between the smaller boxes held within the larger containers.
Espada's teaching career is documented in this series, which includes re-foldered class binders as well as evaluations, class rosters, handouts, and other course materials about photography. Original folder titles have been retained in most cases.
Another large sub-series includes materials from the preparations and edits for Espada's book, The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People, which was published in 2006.
The supporting documentation for the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project offers insight into the work done by Espada to win the grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the work he completed during the grant period through site visits, newsletters, and reports. Several folders relate to interviews, including some summaries, quotes, and transcripts. The audiocassette tapes for these interviews are a separate series in the collection. Another component of this subseries is the exhibit preparation and logistics: the project was exhibited in 45 venues over a 15 year period. Finally, there is third-party supporting documentation about Puerto Rico and the various communities highlighted by Espada in the project.
The Chamorro Documentary Project materials, dating 1989-1990, include information about the different locations photographed by Espada, as well as notebooks and exhibit materials.
The remainder of the series includes some supporting documentation about some of Espada's other projects, including HIV/AIDS outreach, Civil Rights, and the Real Alternatives Program. Other materials honor Espada, including some city proclamations.
Approximately 335 large black-and-white gelatin silver prints, many matted and signed by Frank Espada. Most prints relate to the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project and contain portraits of Puerto Rican communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico itself. Other notable prints date from the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 and 1964, including voter registration drives, school boycotts, and the March on Washington; the Chamorro Documentary Project, with photographs from Guam in 1990; and Espada's documentation of HIV and drug use in San Francisco. Photographs include original descriptive titles.
Prints have been boxed by size, with photographs grouped within boxes as best as possible by content (Puerto Rican Diaspora project materials have been sub-grouped by location, if possible). Prints are listed by the size of the box, which closely reflects the size of the print (15x19 prints are within a 16x20 box, for example). Some prints were assigned a number by Espada as part of his internal documentation. These have been included when present on the print.
The majority of this series consists of interview cassette tapes 1-129 (a total of 160 interviews) from the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project. There are also three videos of interviews with Espada.
[Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact Research Services before coming to use this collection.]
Oversize manuscript materials, including proclamations, essays or writings by Espada, and certificates from Espada's photography courses.
Born, Utuado, Puerto Rico
Emigrated with his family to New York City
Married Marilyn Espada
Studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography and with Gene Smith
Joined the City-Wide Puerto Rican Development Program
Received National Endowment for the Humanities grant to carry out the Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project, which resulted in a book and 45 exhibits over a 15-year period
Taught photography courses and workshops in San Francisco, California
Worked with Mid-City Coalition for HIV Prevention in San Francisco, documenting the work of the community organizers
Undertook the Chamorro Documentary Project, documenting life for indigenous peoples in Micronesia
Published The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Themes in the Survival of a People
Received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Lehman College, Bronx, New York
Espada's documentary photographs have been exhibited around the world: at the Museum of Art in Chicago; Museo del Barrio, New York City; Honolulu Hale; and the Museo de Arte in Ponce, Puerto Rico, among others.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Espada, Frank, 1930-
- Espada, Frank, 1930-
- Puerto Rican Diaspora Documentary Project
- AIDS (Disease) -- United States -- Prevention -- Pictorial works
- Civil rights movements -- United States
- Chamorro (Micronesian people) -- Pictorial works
- Documentary Photography
- Indigenous peoples -- Pictorial works
- Portrait photography
- Puerto Ricans -- Pictorial works
- Photography of immigrants
- Puerto Ricans -- United States
- Puerto Ricans -- United States -- Social conditions
The Frank Espada photographs and papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase from 2010-2013.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, January 2011
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, January 2011
Addition of 2013 processed and encoded by Levi Crews and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, October 2013.
This collection is scheduled for further processing: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.
Accessions described in this collection: 2010-0230, 2011-0037, and 2013-0150.