When the archive of Herman Baca was received in 2004, it became the UC San Diego Libraries' first archival collection on Chicano activism. Since that time, the collection—which is housed in the Mandeville Special Collections Library—has grown to include the American Friends Service Committee United States-Mexico Border Program Records (1974-2004), and the Roberto Martinez Papers (1969-2009). Recently, the Libraries received a $56,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which will enable us to embark on a two-year effort to digitize the 40,000-plus items—including correspondence, photographs, posters, slides, and audio interviews—contained in the archive.
The Baca Archive documents the struggles and achievements of the Chicano Movement in San Diego from 1964 to 2006. According to The Audrey Geisel University Librarian Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the NHPRC grant will allow the Libraries to make the archive available on the Internet in just a few years, thereby providing an important new resource for teachers, students, and scholars beyond the campus. The grant will also help the Libraries’ meet one of its top goals, he added: to make its collections as accessible as possible to users and members of the public.
The Herman Baca Archive, housed in the Mandeville Special Collections Library, was established in 2006.
In the 1960s, Herman Baca, known for his grassroots organizing in support of civil rights and political and judicial equality, became a political organizer, printer, and founder, as well as chairman, of the Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR). Baca has been credited with ushering the nascent Chicano movement into local electoral politics through his work with the Mexican-American Political Association (MAPA). In the 1970s, noting the lack of Chicanos represented by either the Republican or Democratic parties, Baca organized the San Diego County chapter of La Raza Unida Party, a national third-party effort to increase the number of registered voters and political candidates in the Chicano community.
Over the years, Baca worked closely with other leading figures of the Chicano movement—including César Chávez, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Humberto Noé "Bert" Corona, Francisco "Kiki" Martinez, and José Angel Gutiérrez—to address immigration, civil and political rights, educational opportunities, and other issues affecting Chicano communities. Over the nearly 40-year time span represented in the archive, Baca gathered an amazing variety of materials, from meeting minutes and fundraising brochures to court case files and Chicano artworks, tracing the grassroots activities and events that defined the Chicano movement.
According to Lynda Claassen, director of the UC San Diego Mandeville Special Collections Library, the Baca collection is used each quarter by students in many disciplines, including History, Anthropology, and Ethnic Studies. In addition, she said, educators in the K-12 and regional Chicano communities have expressed great interest in incorporating materials from the Baca collection into lesson plans and teaching opportunities, something which they will now be able to do when the archive becomes digital.
"A major benefit of digitizing the collection is that it will make it more accessible not only to these students, but also to the K-12 and regional Chicano communities, which have expressed great interest in incorporating materials from the Baca collection into lesson plans and teaching opportunities," said Claassen.