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José F. Morales The Toxic Avengers Collection

Identifier: MSS 202

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of administrative documentation including agendas, memos, member lists, and various notations by both José Morales and student members. Within the administrative documentation, there exists a fair amount of material related to the Radiac Corporation investigation. There are also a number of correspondences present in the collection, some of which are addressed to Morales personally, and others that are addressed to The Toxic Avengers as a group. Many of the letters addressed to The Toxic Avengers are information requests stemming from the Scholastic Scope feature in 1991.

Additionally, there are a number of external publications including magazines, books, reports, and newsletters that featured The Toxic Avengers or were utilized for research purposes by the group. The collection contains newspaper clippings documenting environmental concerns of the time, a film reel, photographs, negatives, and a large textile poster. Floppy disks relating to workshop and external organizational activities are in Folder 6 within Box 2.


  • Creation: 1976-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1986-1993


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers, the only restrictions apply to audiovisual material that is restricted due to format.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Centro.

Biographical / Historical

José F. Morales was an alternative high school teacher and environmental activist who acted as the adult advisor to The Toxic Avengers, a student group formed at the El Puente Community Center in 1987. The group concerned itself with issues of pollution and environmental safety in the immediate community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Toxic Avengers chose their name based on The Toxic Avenger, a movie about a teenager who becomes a superhero after falling into a vat of radioactive chemicals. Although membership grew and shifted over time, the original Toxic Avengers consisted of approximately fifteen Puerto Rican/Latino students and their faculty advisors.

The Toxic Avengers were formed in order to encourage young people to participate in the community at large, and the group gained traction in the public eye as a result of their independent investigation into the Radiac Corporation. When the Radiac Corporation, a radioactive waste dumping company, was found to be storing and dumping toxic chemicals near a local school, The Toxic Avengers took action. They snapped photographs of the site, created detailed logs of company activity, collected signatures for petitions, and sent samples of chemical waste off to a New Jersey lab for testing. Their efforts led to the cleaning up of the lot on which Radiac had previously been holding its operations. The Radiac investigation was the most notable achievement of The Toxic Avengers, and it attracted national attention. The group was featured in a 1990 article for Scholastic Scope, which detailed their development, philosophies, and journey. Additionally, The Toxic Avengers were featured in a 1991 issue of Kid Heroes of the Environment.

The Toxic Avengers were recognized for the educational workshops that they organized, the recycling programs that they initiated, the rallies that they staged, and the extensive professional connections that they formed with environmental organizations, both local and national. In 1992, El Puente Community Center banned The Toxic Avengers from meeting onsite due to administrative restructuring, and the group ultimately dissolved. In the end, The Toxic Avengers made their mark on history as a dynamic grassroots success, addressing systemic inequalities at the intersection of race, health, and the environment within the community of Williamsburg.

Sources: Scholastic Scope, 1990


2.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


The José F. Morales The Toxic Avengers Collection was created and donated by José F. Morales, an environmental activist and alternative high school teacher. The collection documents the organizational activities of Morales’ brainchild, The Toxic Avengers. The Toxic Avengers (1987-1993) was a youth group formed by Morales at El Puente Community Center in order to educate the community on environmental issues and combat health hazards in the immediate area of Brooklyn. This is a mixed media collection, containing administrative records, correspondences, publications, personal papers, drawings, photographs, and posters. Some of the documents within relate to the Radiac Corporation. The collection documents the history of a unique youth organization formed and based in the local community of South Williamsburg, a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood.


The collection is divided into the following series:

I. Administrative

II. Audiovisual Materials

III. Correspondence

IV. Organizations

V. Personal Papers VI. Newspaper Clippings

VII. Publications

Other Finding Aids

English / Spanish bilingual finding aid available upon request. Contact Centro Library & Archives.

Processing Information

Processed as part of Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science Advanced Archival Practicum at Centro, 2019.

José F. Morales The Toxic Avengers Collection
Jaclyn Elcock supervised by Pedro Juan Hernández and Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez. Spanish Translation by Pedro Juan Hernandez
August 8, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 05-18-2021: Folders relabeled for clarity and to match arrangement in finding aid draft. Subseries were removed from arrangement originally proposed by QC student. Letters in Correspondence series were unfolded and plastic-clipped to their respective envelopes. A film reel in Box 1 was removed to Box 4 to lay flat.

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.