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José López Papers

Identifier: MSS 101

Scope and Contents

This collection contains documents relating to López’s involvement in the International Brotherhood for Electrical Workers (Local 3) and the Santiago Iglesias Educational Society, as well as personal documents, letters, photographs, and union information.

Personal documents within the collection include a biography, resumes, membership cards, and information and photographs of López during his military service in the early 1950s. López served in the 65th Infantry known as “Los Diablos de la Montaña” during the Korean War.

José López was a founding member of the Santiago Iglesias Educational Society (S.I.E.S.), therefore Folders 11 and 12 contain the programs for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the S.I.E.S., which he was a part of. Box 2 of the collection includes six videos documenting the activities of the Santiago Iglesias Education Society.

López also served as the Administrative Assistant to the President of the Hispanic Labor Committee. Folders 13, 14, and 15 contain general information and documents about the committee including a list of officers and members, the constitution and By-Laws, and the Dinner Dance Awards programs.


  • Creation: 1941-1998


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Centro.

Biographical / Historical

José “Joe” López (1932-1985) was born and raised in Cayey, Puerto Rico. He was active in the Hispanic community throughout his life as a labor organizer and community leader. After graduating high school 1949, López moved to New York City where he worked at Keg-O-Products Corp., a lamp and shade shop under Local 3, of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

In 1950, López enlisted in the United States Army during the Korean War. He served in the 65th Infantry as a Platoon Sergeant in Korea and was awarded a Purple Heart. Upon discharge, he returned to the electrical industry and became a Shop Steward in the BAL Division of Local #3, serving on the Negotiating, Advisory, and Pension Committees. In 1958, he travelled to Puerto Rico as part of a study tour and upon returning helped to establish the Santiago Iglesias Educational Society (S.I.E.S) of Local #3. The society is a fraternal organization for Hispanic members of IBEW Local 3. López served as President of the Local #3 S.I.E.S. from 1960-1971 and in 1967, he assisted in the founding of the Santiago Iglesias Credit Union. He served as its President for four years and as Treasurer for two years. In 1966 he was appointed to the State Board of Social Welfare by New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller. In addition, he also served as Board Member of the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs, the Hispanic Labor Committee, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Puerto Rican Folklore Fiesta, and as an organizer of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. In 1967, AFL-CIO President George Meany appointed López as Field Representative of Region # 7, which encompassed New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. From 1968 through 1970, he was appointed to assist the United Farm Workers during their boycott of grapes. Through leafleting, speeches and fundraising, López helped organize consumer and union-member support, which helped contribute to farm workers in California securing their first union contract in 1970. López was a graduate of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies at SUNY Empire, earning an Associate’s Degree in Labor Studies. He was a loyal and dedicated union activist and leader who was always held in high esteem by his colleagues in the trade union movement. López was survived by his wife Gloria and children Nilda, Edwin and José.


0.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


José López was a field representative for the AFL-CIO in New York, served in the 65th Infantry during the Korean War, and a founding member of the Santiago Iglesias Education Society. His papers contain biographical information, documents related to the Hispanic Labor Committee, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Santiago Iglesias Education Society, identification cards, correspondence, realia, and photographs. It also includes six VHS tapes documenting the activities of the Santiago Iglesias Education Society meetings and memorial 5k runs for López in the 1990s.


The collection has been arranged topically in folders within a single series.

José “Joe” López Papers
Cynthia Sanchez and Ana Rosa Perez, Archive staff members under the supervision of Pedro Juan Hernandez.
September 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 05-25-2021: Series removed completely from collection and previous series-level scope & content notes added to folders. Folder labels updated for clarity and rearranged topically. VHS tapes and buttons added as item-level objects into resource record.

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.