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Series II: El Museo Del Barrio, 1960-2003
Series IV: Writing, 1961-2009
At a Glance
This collection has been arranged into nine series.
The Jack Agueros Papers span the wide breath of Agueros's life and work. Reaching as far back as his high school yearbook this collection includes his personal and professional correspondence over fifty-one years, drafts of published and unpublished work ranging from plays and novellas to a description of Agueros's experiences riding the New York City subway's from 1987-1989. Agueros saved and documented his research (for poems translation work and lawsuits); he framed his hate mail and carefully stored his fan mail from students and fellow poets. The Jack Agueros Papers include artifacts from his collection of old tools and metal findings, detailed records of his submission rejections as well as copies of his accepted works, timelines and ephemera from his many readings, slides from gallery installations at El Museo del Barrio, and many of the articles that he wrote for New York newspapers.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
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.This collection has no restrictions.
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); Jack Agueros papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Jack Agueros, 2012.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Carolyn Li-Madeo, Pratt Institute, 2014 2013.
Finding aid written Carolyn Li-Madeo February 2013.
2013-06-27 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith
2015-01-06 xml document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Jack Agüeros (1934-2014) is a Puerto Rican-American poet, community activist, playwright, educator and a former director of El Museo del Barrio. He is the author of a collection of short stories and three collections of poetry. Jack Agüeros's work across all mediums celebrates and highlights the complexities and struggles of the Puerto Rican American experience and more broadly the American experience. His poems typically implement traditional forms such as psalms and sonnets through which he explores subjects such as poverty, injustice and immigration. A prolific translator, during his career he translated numerous plays from Spanish to English as well as the complete works of the influential poets Julia de Burgos and Jose Marti.
Agüeros was born in East Harlem, New York to recent Puerto Rican immigrants. His father Joaquin Agüeros was a merchant marine and his mother Carmen Diaz worked as a seamstress. Jack Agüeros graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1953 and then spent four years in the Air Force where he became a guided missile instructor. After leaving the Air Force, he continued his education at Brooklyn College where he graduated with a BA in English in 1964 and later pursued a MA in Urban Studies from Occidental College, graduating 1970. Agüeros was introduced to the sonnet in high school, but it was during his time at Brooklyn College that he began to receive recognition for his playwriting and poetry. In May 2012 he received The Asan World Prize for Poetry.
As a community member and activist, Jack Agüeros is celebrated for his time spent as the director of El Museo del Barrio--which collects Latin American and Caribbean art--where he helped to build the museum's permanent collection and implemented a series of gallery expansions. He was an organizer for the Henry Street Settlement, the deputy director of the Puerto Rican Community Development Project and the deputy commissioner of New York City's Community Development Agency, where in 1968 he staged a five-day hunger strike in his office to protest the lack of Puerto Ricans in New York City government. Throughout his career Agüeros was also a regular guest poet at primary and secondary schools across the United States. As dedicated father, storyteller and educator he wrote carefully crafted picture books and plays for young people that addressed complex issues such as cultural heritage and environmentalism. Agüeros is also celebrated for his broadcasting work for Sesame Street and WNBC-TV Channel 4. Agüeros's written, visual and scholastic work encourages children to be inquisitive, thoughtful and proud of their personal identities.
Jack Agüeros died in Manhattan on May 4, 2014, from complications of Alzheimer's disease.