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Series I: Alphabetical Photograph Files, circa 1970-2000
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series. Series I is arranged in alphabetical order. Series II is arranged in chronological order and then by staff photographer.
Scope and Content
The El Diario/La Prensa Photograph Morgue contains photographs and associated materials kept as reference, or morgue, files by the staff of the New York City Spanish language newspaper El Diario/La Prensa. The collection documents events and personalities significant to New York City's Spanish-speaking communities from approximately 1970 to 2006. This documentation is grouped in two series. Series I contains photograph files for noteworthy personalities or events. Series II contains files of negatives, contact sheets, and photographic prints created by staff photographers which are generally grouped by month and year. Researchers searching for specific events will need to search series II by date.
Photographic materials in the collection came from various sources. Some photographic prints in Series I were created by the newspaper's staff photographers. However, Series I also contains thermal facsimile photographs from news agencies and publicity photographs of entertainers. Many of the publicity photographs promote performers based in New York City, or performers based in Latin America and the Caribbean whose careers may not otherwise be well-documented in the United States.
Photographic negatives, prints, and contact sheets by the El Diario/La Prensa staff photographers Humberto Arellano, Osvaldo Perez, and José A. Rivera make up the bulk of Series II. A small number of contact sheets and negatives by Carlos Morales, and photographic prints by Luis Vargas, are also included. These materials were created primarily by staff photographers working on assignment to cover newsworthy events. The series also incorporates a small amount of documentation of the photographic assignment process and other operational activities of El Diario/La Prensa's staff photographic department, primarily in the form of office memos and expense reports.
Local events documented in the collection include New York City parades, protests, press conferences, arts and cultural events, community events, and crimes. Staff photographers were assigned to cover many of these events, and the resulting photographs can be found in Series II. Events of national and international significance are primarily documented as news agency photographs in Series I. Noteworthy personalities include sports stars, musicians, actors, politicians, and high-profile criminals. Photographs of personalities are present in both series.
Though the history of El Diario/La Prensa spans more than a century, materials from the photograph morgue dating from prior to the 1970s no longer exist. Some materials were gradually lost or discarded in the course of several El Diario/La Prensa newsroom relocations. A 1992 flood in the El Diario/La Prensa offices on Varick Street, caused by a water main break, also destroyed a significant amount of material.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Researchers must wear gloves when handling photographs and negatives.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); El Diario/La Prensa Photograph Morgue; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No additions are expected
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2012.2013.M096: Source of acquisition--El Diario/La Prensa. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--3/1/2013.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed by Celeste Brewer, Ciara Sternbenz (CC), and Michael Korte (GS 2015). Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer in March 2018.
Series I of the El Diario/La Prensa Photograph Morgue was partially processed by two students. That processing work was not extensively documented. However, it seems to have included grouping photo files by subject. For example, files related to baseball, basketball, boxing, and football were grouped together and arranged in alphabetical order.
Photograph files for noteworthy personalities or events and monthly files of negatives, contact sheets, and photographic prints created by staff photographers do seem to have both been maintained at the offices of El Diario/La Prensa prior to the transfer of the photograph morgue to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. This arrangement was retained when processing the collection. However, documentation of the order in which these files were kept, or the relationship between the two sets of files, does not exist.
English- and Spanish-language folder titles that were present in the collection upon its arrival at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library were retained. Some materials, especially in Series II, were loose in boxes upon arrival. Those materials were placed in folders and supplied with titles in English.
Photographers' pay stubs and personal information regarding sick leave and other human resources matters were removed and destroyed. Photographic assignment expense reports and a Newspaper Guild union contract were retained as evidence of business operations at the newspaper.
All collection materials were placed in acid-free folders and housed in archival boxes. Negatives were placed in polyester sleeves.
2018-03-08 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
El Diario/La Prensa is the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York City, and the oldest Spanish-language daily in the United States. The paper covers local, national and international news with an emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as human-interest stories, politics, business and technology, health, entertainment, and sports.
Rafael Viera, a Spanish entrepreneur, founded La Prensa in New York City as a weekly newspaper in 1913. José Camprubí acquired the paper in 1918 and converted it to a daily newspaper. El Diario de Nueva York was founded as a competing newspaper in 1947. The two papers merged in 1963, after both were acquired by the entrepreneur O. Roy Chalk. The compound title El Diario/La Prensa dates from that merger.
Chalk sold El Diario/La Prensa to Gannett Company in 1981. El Diario Associates, an investment group led by the paper's publisher, Carlos D. Ramirez, in turn purchased the paper from Gannett in 1989. Ramirez continued to serve as publisher until his death in 1999.
In 2004, El Diario/La Prensa's operating group merged with that of Los Angeles' Spanish-language daily newspaper La Opinión to form the operating company ImpreMedia. In 2008, after nearly a century of operating in various locations in lower Manhattan, the El Diario/La Prensa offices moved to downtown Brooklyn. The paper celebrated its centennial in 2013.