Alice Cardona Papers
Scope and Contents
The Alice Cardona Papers document the bilingual education movement in New York City as well as the development of organizations that provide services that serve the needs of women and those oriented toward community development. The materials, 1923-2001 (bulk 1973-2001), consist of biographical information; correspondence; news clippings; photographs; speeches; articles; and documents from various organizations including regulations, programs, correspondence, and meeting minutes. There are also drafts of Cardona’s book, Puerto Rican Women Achievers in New York City.
The collection contains a significant number of news clippings and other biographical materials such as the article written about her when she was awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award (1982); a speech made by Congresswoman Nydia Velásquez, ex-director of the Office of Migration, at Cardona’s 70th birthday celebration in 2000; and clippings from publications including Diario/La Prensa, Noticias del Mundo, Newsday, Ciudadano Conciente, and Vocero-San Juan about Cardona and Puerto Rican and community organizations as well as columns by Congresswoman Velásquez. The clippings from Ciudadano Conciente, a local newspaper from Queens, contain “Machacando”, a column written by Cardona that addressed her attempts to encourage people to be heard and defend their rights through voting and education.
There are also subject files, audiovisual materials, and photographs that document Cardona’s interests in bilingual education; the New York City Board of Education; health in general and HIV/AIDS in particular; and the political campaigns of politicians including Herman Badillo, Mario Cuomo, David Dinkins, Gloria Chávez, Ruth Messenger, and Michael Dukakis.
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1973-2001
- Creation: 1923-2001
Conditions Governing Access
Most of the collection is open without restrictions. Audiovisual material is currently restricted due to fragile nature of medium.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright held by Centro.
Biographical / Historical
Alice Cardona was born on March 17, 1930, the first of nine children born to Puerto Rican parents who migrated to New York City in 1923. She was raised and educated in Spanish Harlem (“El Barrio”). Upon graduating from high school in 1950, Cardona began to work in a store. During this period, she also volunteered at the Legión de Maria, visiting and giving psychological support to Black and Latino people in need. This experience helped expand Cardona’s understanding of the oppressive social, economic, and educational obstacles that these groups faced in New York. In 1961, Cardona decided to join the Sisters of St. John, a religious order based in Taylor, Texas. After a short time in the community, however, she decided that the religious life limited her abilities to affect change so she abandoned the religious vocation.
After this experience, Cardona returned to New York where she worked for a financial institution and as a program coordinator for United Bronx Parents (UBP). With UBP, she oversaw programs that facilitated parental involvement in the school system and supervised youth in the summer job program. In 1964, she became involved in the first Head Start program in New York.
Cardona’s career flourished between 1970 and 1978, a period during which she worked at ASPIRA as a counselor for youth and later as director of a counseling program for parents and students. There, she was able to use her abilities to help youths achieve their goals through education. She also had the opportunity to form relationships with administrators and heads of various foundations and educational organizations in addition to parents and students.
ASPIRA prompted Cardona to return to university and complete her degree. In 1973, she received her bachelor’s through an independent study program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. During this period, in addition to her work at ASPIRA and university studies, Cardona was an active member of National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW). In 1975, Alice took an even greater role in NACOPRW, becoming a member of the national board of the organization and making decisions at a local and national level. Around that time she also co-founded HACER/Hispanic Women’s Center, which aimed to help Latinas to achieve their professional goals via education.
During the administration of Governor Mario Cuomo, 1983-1995, Cardona was the assistant director of the New York State Division for Women, where she directed the office’s day-to-day operations. This position allowed her to further advocate for bilingual education and women, including those in prison. She also worked to combat HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and domestic violence.
After her retirement in 1995, Cardona dedicated herself to participate as a member or founder in a variety of organizations. She was the director of the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs (PRACA); co-director of Atrévete, a group dedicated to voter registration and political participation organized by the Migration Division; member of the boards of National Women’s Political Caucus, National Association for Bilingual Education, and Puerto Rican Educators Association; and a member of various other organizations. During her lifetime, Cardona helped to found over a dozen community or political organizations. In July 1997, Cardona was one of seventy women from the United States to be invited to attend the “Vital Voices of Women in Democracy” conference in Beijing, China to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Women’s Forum.
Cardona was the author of the book Puerto Rican Women Achievers in New York City and was the first Latina to receive the Susan B. Anthony Prize, awarded to her in 1983 by the National Organization for Women, the largest feminist organization in the country. She was also recognized with many other awards for her community service, particularly for her work with women, children, and bilingual education. She passed away at the age of 81 from cancer on November 1, 2011.
34.0 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
Metadata Rights Declarations
Alice Cardona was a Puerto Rican whose advocacy for women’s rights and bilingual education as well as her efforts as founder of various organizations for Latinas distinguished her in New York City activist communities. The Alice Cardona Papers document the bilingual education movement in New York City, the development of organizations that serve the needs of women, and those oriented toward community development. The materials date from 1923-2001 (bulk 1973-2001), consisting of biographical information; correspondence; news clippings; photographs; speeches; articles; and documents from various organizations including regulations, programs, correspondence, and meeting minutes.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Alice Cardona.
This collection description was enhanced as a part of Ventana al Pasado: Building a Latino/Hispanic Online Research Collection. The New York State Archives and Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños received funding for this project from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Badillo, Herman, 1929-2014 (Person)
- Cuomo, Mario M., 1932-2015 (Person)
- Dinkins, David N. (Person)
- Velázquez, Nydia (Person)
- National Association for Bilingual Education (U.S.) (Organization)
- National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (Organization)
- Chavez, Gloria (Person)
- Messinger, Ruth W. (Person)
- HACER Inc. (Organization)
- National Organization for Women (Organization)
- National Women's Political Caucus (U.S.) (Organization)
- New York (State). Division for Women (Organization)
- Alice Cardona Papers
- Nadya Rodriguez, with assistance from Kimberly Irizarry, Diana Saenz, Sai Tsang and Xiomara Castro.
- January 2007
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- This collection description was enhanced as a part of Ventana al Pasado: Building a Latino/Hispanic Online Research Collection. The New York State Archives and Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños received funding for this project from the National Endowment for the Humanities.