Baca Papers Tracing Chicano Movement Digitized and Available Online

The papers of Chicano activist Herman Baca, acquired by the UC San Diego Library in 2004, have been digitized and are now available for teaching and research purposes at: The digitization of the archive, which chronicles the struggles and achievements of San Diego’s Chicano Movement from 1964 to 2006, was made possible by a $56,000 grant awarded to the Library in February of 2012 by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

More than 40,000 items—including correspondence, photographs, posters, slides, and audio interviews—are now freely available and discoverable on the Internet. The digitization effort has resulted in 1,500 minutes of audio interviews, 3,643 photographs, and some 38,000 pages of documents.

"By digitizing this collection,” said Brian E. C. Schottlaender, the university’s Audrey Geisel University Librarian, ”we hope to make these materials available to all segments of the community. A top goal of the UC San Diego Library is to make our collections as accessible as possible to our users and members of the public. Digitization of our holdings helps us to reach that goal.”

According to Lynda Claassen, director of the Library’s Mandeville Special Collections, the Baca collection is used each quarter by students in many disciplines, including History, Anthropology, and Ethnic Studies.

“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. “This provides an important new resource for teachers, students, and scholars and citizens beyond the campus."

When the Baca collection was acquired in 2004, it was the Library’s first archival collection on Chicano activism. Since then, the materials documenting Chicano history have grown to include the American Friends Service Committee United States-Mexico Border Program Records (1974-2004), and the Roberto Martinez Papers (1969-2009).

In the 1960s, Herman Baca, who grew up in National City, CA, became a prolific Chicano activist, political organizer, printer, and founder, as well as chairman, of the Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR). Baca, who brought the emerging Chicano movement into local electoral politics through his work with the Mexican –American Political Association (MAPA), is known and admired for his community-based grassroots organizing in support of civil rights and political and judicial equality. 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 surprising array 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.

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