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Celia Vice Papers

Identifier: MSS 264

Scope and Contents

A main strength of the collection is the photographs which often depict daily life and street scenes in Puerto Rico and East Harlem; housing conditions; parades, professional events and formal dinners; and group pictures. Many were taken by Justo Marti and Miguel Luis.

Correspondence and clippings detail Vice’s involvement in political and civic organizations and the work of Puerto Rican Heritage Publications, Inc. A folder of scripts for WBAI radio contain statements from Vice to residents throughout the city. Several typed unattributed writings comment on military service and public school education appear in the files; however, the authorship of these is unclear.


  • Creation: 1940s-1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960s-1970s


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright holder is unknown.

Biographical / Historical

Celia Acosta Vice (June 20, 1919-January 30, 1993) was a licensed real estate broker and civic leader concerned with community development in Brooklyn, New York; a disseminator of publications about Puerto Rican heritage; and the first female grand marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Born in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico to Ramon and Flor Acosta, Vice's family settled in New York City in 1926 and she was raised in the DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, and the Williamsburg Bedford Stuyvesant communities in Brooklyn. Vice enrolled in courses at Brooklyn College, Pace College, and the Sobelsohn School business college and received insurance education at the Pohs Institute. As a young adult Vice worked in factories and held general office jobs.

In a later position, she sought to attract companies to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as part of efforts to revive economic activity at the shipyard, near which Vice had grown up. After obtaining her real estate and insurance licenses Vice opened the Marcy Real Estate & Insurance Company with her husband Ivan. Her real estate office doubled as an unofficial community center, where new arrivals from Puerto Rico would come to seek guidance and advice. Simultaneously, she became increasingly involved in civic matters, and is most remembered for her leadership in over a dozen community, political, youth, and women's organizations.

In politics, Vice ran as a Democratic candidate for State Assembly District 50, founded the Brooklyn Independent Political Organization, and promoted voter registration. Vice established the Council of Brooklyn Organizations, a powerful influence over the city's political hierarchy; served on the boards of the Urban League, the Bushwick-Hylan Community Center, Brooklyn borough president's Equal Opportunity Committee, and as a Brooklyn Public Library trustee; acted as treasurer of the McKibb Stars Social & Athletic Club; led the Williamsburg-Greenpoint Coordinating Council; and directed the Williamsburg JOIN Center (Job Orientation in Neighborhoods). Her activism also extended to her time as a member of local school board District 14 in Brooklyn.

Preserving and sharing Puerto Rican culture and art mattered to Vice and she founded Puerto Rican Heritage Publications, Inc., (and a bookstore) as a mechanism to promote and distribute Puerto Rican literature and educational materials. She collected books, art, and also operated a small museum. With newspaper columns in the New York World Telegram and the Williamsburg News and her appearances on the WBAI radio station in 1977 and 1978, Vice was able to address a broader audience of Puerto Ricans.

Returning to Puerto Rico in 1979, Vice established the Kiosko Cultural in Plaza de las Americas, and died of cancer in 1993.


Latinas in the United States, set: A Historical Encyclopedia, Edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol, Indiana University Press, 2006.

Campaign flyer, Celia Vice Papers, Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY.


2.4 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


This collection documents female Puerto Rican community leader and business owner Celia Vice's contributions to social, educational, and economic improvement and her stewardship of Puerto Rican culture. The Celia Vice papers contain photographs of Puerto Rico and New York City; correspondence and records of her groundbreaking Puerto Rican Heritage Publishing Company; clippings about Vice’s work in the community organizations; and scripts for Vice's WBAI radio program. The collection primarily covers the 1960s and 1970s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cynthia Vice, 2014.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2020 by archive staff members under the supervision of Pedro Juan Hernandez.

Celia Vice Papers
Susan M. Kline
April 2022
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Repository

Silberman Building, Hunter College
2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122
New York New York 10065

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.