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José Hernández-Álvarez Papers

 Collection — Box: 9
Identifier: MSS 155

Scope and Contents

Measuring 10 cubic feet, the collection consists of correspondence, photographs, reports, clippings, and postcards. It dates from 1952-2006 and explores the many facets of Hernández’s personal and professional life. It concerns his activities in New York City, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Brazil and Berkeley, CA.


  • Creation: 1952-2006


Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is available at the discretion of the archivist. There are student records found throughout the collection and access will be determined at time of request.

Biographical / Historical

José Hernández-Álvarez received a B.A. and M.A. from Fordham University and began his career as a Jesuit seminarian teaching at Colegio San Ignacio in the 1950s. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in Sociology and Latin American Studies at the University of Minnesota driven by his research on poverty in a sugar cane plantation in the early 1960s. As a researcher at the University of Puerto Rico and the University of California, Berkeley, Hernández wrote "Return Migration to Puerto Rico" on how the reverse flow of workers followed on U.S. factory relocation to cheap-labor nations. Then, he organized and managed community development projects in Brazil for the Ford Foundation, with international funding and local professional support, for five years.

Following his work for the Ford Foundation, Hernández went on to teach at the University of Arizona, where he wrote "People Power and Policy," on economic development from the bottom up. As Research Director at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the mid-1970s, he organized a national data file on income inequality (matching gender, race and economic variables), producing a report to Congress. He also prepared documentation for Congressional approval of Public Law 94-311, mandating federal agencies to add a Spanish Origin (Hispanic) ethnic identifier to all data on the nation's population, which the media dubbed as creating a "second minority." After eight years as a University of Wisconsin professor, Hernández joined the faculty of the Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department at Hunter College, CUNY. There, he taught and wrote "Conquered Peoples in America," through five editions, on groups made part of the nation as a result of war and occupation. In collaboration with other faculty, Hernández advanced Puerto Rican Studies to a full B.A. major program and added courses in this subject to the menu of core curriculum requirements for graduation.


10.0 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Metadata Rights Declarations


José Hernández-Álvarez was a consultant for the Ford Foundation in Brazil and a professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson; the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Hunter College, CUNY (Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department), New York, NY. He had a role in the 1980 Census Advisory Committee and worked at the International Population and Urban Research Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, reports, clippings and postcards and explores the many facets of his personal and professional life. It concerns his activities in New York City, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Berkeley, CA and Brazil.

Processing Information

The collection was arranged prior to donation by the donor into periods of his life in mostly reverse chronological order, and the folders located within each section were then alphabetized. The donor provided an inventory.

José Hernández-Álvarez Papers
This collection was reorganized by Ana Rosa Perez. Finding aid was produced by archive staff members under the supervision of Pedro Juan Hernández.
September 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • May 2022: Physical material was rehoused and finding aid updated by Herbert Duran.

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.