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Chicana and Chicano Studies in Library Special Collections

This guide assembles a selection of UCLA Library's primary source holdings in Chicana and Chicano history and is intended as a starting place to point researchers to significant collections that cover the history of Mexicans in North America.

Online Archive of California (OAC)

Keyword search for primary source materials in UCLA's online finding aids:


Social Justice

Title: Group portrait of eight Mexican American males taken in for questioning in the 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder investigation, Los Angeles, Calif.

Project: Los Angeles Daily News Negatives 

A major strength of the holdings relates to documentation on issues of civil rights, immigration, and labor, from the 1920s through the '40s. UCLA Special Collections has acquired the papers of major figures in the area of social justice activism whose work represents seminal historical events in Los Angeles history. Personal papers of these individuals provide insight into the struggles and achievements of Mexican Americans in California and shed light on cultural, political, and economic development of the region's urban centers. 

Carey McWiliams

Carey McWilliams (1905-1980) was a writer, lawyer, journalist, lecturer, activist, as well as Chief of the California Division of Immigration and Housing and editor of The Nation. McWilliams was a prolific lecturer and writer, speaking on many subjects and contributing articles and essays to numerous publications. After his retirement from The Nation, he continued to write a regular column for that publication. His monographs include Ambrose Bierce, a biography (1929); Louis Adamic and shadow America (1935); Factories in the field: the story of migratory farm labor in California (1939); Ill fares the land: migrants and migratory labor in the United States (1942); Brothers under the skin (1943); Prejudice: Japanese-Americans, symbol of racial intolerance (1944); Southern California country: an island on the land (1946); A mask for privilege: anti-Semitism in America (1948); North from Mexico: the Spanish-speaking people of the United States (1949); California: the great exception (1949); Witch hunt: the revival of heresy (1950); and his autobiography The education of Carey McWilliams (1979). The collection contains personal diaries, scrapbooks, manuscripts, publicity materials, and assorted correspondence and research files related to McWilliams's life and career.

McGrath (Alice G.) papers 1917-2009

Alice McGrath (1917-2009) was a political activist who first became known for her work to overturn the improper convictions of Mexican American youth in Sleepy Lagoon Trial in which the defendants were tried as a group under inhumane conditions. McGrath also supported humanitarian efforts and revolution in Nicaragua, pro bono work through the Mexican American Bar Association, and taught courses on self-defense. The collection consists of trial documents, correspondence, articles, awards, photographs, and other ephemera.

Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee Records, 1942-1945 (Collection 107)

The Sleepy Lagoon Case exhibit logo See the online exhibit and related resources: The Sleepy Lagoon Case: Constitutional Rights and the Struggle for Democracy

The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (first known as the Citizens’Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth) was organized in October 1942 in response to the indictment of 22 young men for murder. All defendants but one were Mexican American, and 12 defendants were convicted of first-degree murder by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee raised funds for the appeal of the case and roused public opinion through education and publicity programs. Judgments and decisions of the lower court were reversed by the District Court of Appeal of the state of California, 2nd Appellate District, on October 4, 1944.

The archive was transferred to the UCLA Library by Alice Greenfield McGrath, executive secretary of the committee, 1945. It includes photographs, correspondence, publicity materials, radio scripts, petitions, scrapbooks of news clippings, and trial transcripts. It also includes material from Luis Valdez’s play, Zoot Suit, a dramatic and musical interpretation of the events surrounding the trial. Related collections include the personal papers of Carey McWilliams, who served as chair of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee; Alice Greenfield McGrath; and author Guy Endore. UCLA oral history interviews with McWilliams, McGrath, and Endore also discuss the case. The Los Angeles Times (ca. 1918-1990) and Los Angeles Daily News (1923-1954) photographic archives provide historic images of the events published in the press. Documents and photographs from these collections and the complete trial transcripts have been digitized and made available on the Online Archive of California (OAC).

Edward Ross Roybal Papers (Collection 847)

Edward Ross Roybal (1916-2005) was a public health educator and director of health education for the Los Angeles County Tuberculosis and Health Association in the 1940s; a member of the Los Angeles City Council (1949-1962); president of Eastland Savings and Loan Association (1958-68); and a democrat in the U.S. Congress, House of Representatives (1963-1993), where he served as chairman of the Select Committee on Aging from 1989-1993. The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, notes, photographs, and printed material related to his career as a Los Angeles city councilman. As city councilman, he was an advocate for equal rights, particularly on issues facing the local Latino community, and was opposed to the displacement of the Mexican American community called Chavez Ravine by Dodger Stadium. Materials from this collection have been digitized and made available on the OAC. Lesson plans for Grades 6-12 entitled Stealing Home: How Race Relations, Politics, and Baseball Transformed Chavez Ravine are available on the California Cultures digital archive.

Mardirosian (Vahac) papers 1964-2007

Reverend Vahac Mardirosian has been a major advocate of Mexican-American educational reforms in Los Angeles and San Diego school districts since the early 1960s. This collection contains material related to his pastoral work, his involvement with the 1968 East Los Angeles walk-out demonstration and organizations he helped found and run, including the Hispanic Urban Center Board of Education (founded 1970) and Parent Institute for Quality Education (founded 1987). Materials include clippings and press releases, letters and statements, notes, sermons, evaluation reports, reading score percentiles and rankings, memoranda, fact sheets and administrative documents, and cover a wide variety of educational topics including bilingual education, integration, teachers' attitudes towards Mexican American students, parental involvement, and reading achievement.

Los Angeles County Chicano Employees Association (LACCEA) collection 1970-2007

The Los Angeles County Chicano Employees Association is an association that was formed by Latino employees of Los Angeles County in 1969. The primary motivation and goal of this organization has been to provide legal services in order to protect and advocate for the rights of LACCEA members as well as the larger Latino/Chicano community in Los Angeles. Since the organization's inception LACCEA has been involved in a number of efforts aimed at creating greater access to and improved conditions in employment and public services throughout Los Angeles County Departments and institutions. The LACCEA has played a major role in the formation of public policy on behalf of Chicano/Latino communities in Los Angeles County. LACCEA has also made significant contributions to policy-making throughout California. This collection contains a number of documents, reports, charts, graphs, newsletters, clippings and correspondence that deal with the various advocacy efforts of the LACCEA.

Muñoz (Rosalio) papers Bulk, 1970-2012

Rosalío Muñoz is a Chicano journalist and activist who has been a longtime member of the Communist Party. As a student activist, Muñoz developed his leadership through serving as Student Class President of Franklin high school and later as UCLA’s first Chicano Student Body President. He is mostly remembered for spearheading the 1970 Chicano Moratorium Committee as Co-Chair. This collection covers his participation in the Communist Party, USA from the 1970s to present through materials such as self-authored People’s World articles, newsletters, notebooks, notes, and ephemera. The remaining collection historicizes various community organizing efforts from the 1960s-present such as Human Services Coalition, Justice for Janitors, and Latinos for Peace through photographs, correspondence, research materials, clippings, notes, and ephemera.