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Anita Vélez Mitchell Papers

 Unprocessed Material — Container: 2010-004-AVM
Identifier: 2009-027

Content Description

Anita Vélez-Mitchell (1916-2015) was a poet, writer and performer. Born in Vieques, Puerto Rico, she moved to Spanish Harlem (El Barrio) in New York City when she was 13. During the 1950s and '60s, she performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, in Carnegie Hall, in night clubs as a solo artist, and on tour throughout the United States with Marina Svetlova for Columbia Concerts. In the fifties, she formed The Anita Vélez Dancers, with choreography by Herbert Ross, and toured the Hilton Hotel chain from Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba to the United States and Canada. Her dance career culminated in 1963 when she played the role of Anita in West Side Story, returning in 1972 as dance coach for the Lincoln Center revival. Vélez-Mitchell acted in numerous plays, from Michael Todd's 1944 Broadway production of Mexican Hayride to the 2006 world premiere of The Ballad of Eddie and Jo by David Sard (directed by Lorca Peress at the Hudson Guild Theatre). Her awards include: Puerto Rico's Julia de Burgos Poetry Prize for her bilingual, book-length poem, Primavida: Calendar of Love (1986, Mairena Press); Association of Puerto Rican Writers and Poets Award; University Press Award; Prince of Asturias Award for Belles Lettres; Partners in Education Award; Center of Ibero-American Poets and Writers awards in four separate genres (short story, poetry, essay, and drama); Isaac Perez Award (1994); Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation Grant for her short film on Julia de Burgos; “2000 Woman of the Year Award” from the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women in the USA. Her published work in literary magazines and anthologies includes bilingual poems, short stories, plays, essays, and translations, her novella Loco de Amor: A Vieques Tale (2006, published by the Committee for the Puerto Rican Day Parade and given to 500 participants). A production of her play A Newyorican Tale premiered for Danisarte at Julia de Burgos Center in 2009. She is the subject of two documentary films, Anita Vélez: Dancing Through Life and No Brief Candle. She received a proclamation, Anita Vélez-Mitchell Day, from New York City (2006), and addressed the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of Vieques, Puerto Rico. In 2010, she received the Outstanding Women Award from El Diario newspaper. This collection consists of correspondence, poetry, clippings, press releases, event programs, photographs and videos. There are also 93 photographs of Vélez-Mitchell and others at various activities.

Acquisition Type



Gift of Anita Vélez Mitchell.

Restrictions Apply



  • 1940-2010


7 Cubic Feet (Total collection size, including three additional accretions. )

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons license.

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.