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Frieda Garcia papers

 Collection
Identifier: M222

Scope and Contents

The collection documents Frieda Garcia's community organization work in Boston, notably with United South End Settlements and La Alianza Hispana, as well as her advocacy for Black and Hispanic communities in Boston, multiculturalism in media, bilingualism in education, and women's rights. Records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, publications, newsletters, awards, and photographs. Also included are materials related to Garcia's board membership at organizations such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Boston Foundation. The collection contains several born-digital files, which can be accessed, along with any digitized analog content, in this designated folder within the Northeastern University Digital Repository Service.

Dates

  • 1886-2022
  • Majority of material found within 1963-2014

Creator

Language of Materials

Collection is primarily in English with some material in Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Biographical Note

Frieda Garcia is a community activist and leader who has worked primarily in Boston's South End and Roxbury neighborhoods since the mid 1960s. She was born in 1932 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to Humberto Garcia and Marina Sanabia. She moved to New York City with her mother and brother at the age of eight. As one of the few bilingual (English and Spanish) people on her block in Upper Manhattan, she was often called upon to translate for neighbors. For this reason, she has said that she had been doing social work since she was 10 years old. She attended Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a college preparatory school in Caldwell, New Jersey, and upon graduation enrolled at Fordham University. After two years, Garcia moved back to the Dominican Republic with her then husband. She returned to New York City several years later, and earned a Bachelor's degree from The New School of Social Research in 1964.

In 1965, Garcia moved to Boston, eventually finding work at the Grove Hall Welfare office, before being hired at the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, whose director, social justice leader Hubie Jones, became her mentor. A few years later, Jones urged her to become involved with a new organization that was forming to meet the needs of Boston's growing Hispanic population. Garcia became founding director of the resulting organization, La Alianza Hispana, 1971-1973.

Garcia then spent 10 months in the Community Fellows program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973-1974, served as Special Assistant to the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1974-1975, and as Director of Consultation and Education at the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, 1975-1981. In 1981, Garcia became the executive director of United South End Settlements (USES), also known as the Harriet Tubman House. During her 20-year tenure at USES, she spearheaded programs centered on adult education and training, children, and affordable housing. Since retiring from USES in 2001, she has continued to be active, including chairing the Planning Committee of the ¡Merengue! Visual Rhythms/Ritmos Visuales traveling exhibition, which took place in 2008.

Advocacy for Black and Hispanic communities in Boston, for bilingual education, for women's rights, and for multicultural media, are several themes that appear throughout her career. Garcia and her partner, former Massachusetts State Representative Byron Rushing, have also been dedicated political activists involved in many social justice movements in Boston. Garcia has also served on several Mayoral commissions dedicated to topics such as violence and mental health, and on the boards of over seventy organizations such as The Boston Foundation, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The United Way.

Garcia has received numerous awards in recognition of her civic work, including the Massachusetts Legislative Black Caucus Award (1995), the ADELANTE Award from the Hispanic Office of Planning and Evaluation (1996), the Harriet Tubman Community Achievement Award from United South End Settlements (2012), and the Massachusetts Governor's Award in the Humanities (2016). In 2013, a park on Stanhope Street in the South End was named in her honor. Most recently, as of 2023, she was one of 69 civil rights and social justice leaders whose names were engraved in the 1965 Freedom Plaza, beneath The Embrace statue, on the Boston Common.

Extent

14.7 cubic feet (16 boxes)

1.3 Megabytes (7 digital files)

Abstract

Frieda Garcia is a community activist and leader who has worked primarily in Boston's South End and Roxbury neighborhoods since the mid 1960s, when she first settled in Boston. She initially found work under Hubie Jones, who became a mentor, at the Roxbury Multi-Service Center. A few years later, in 1969, Jones urged her to become a part of a new organization that was forming to meet the needs of Boston's growing Hispanic community. Garcia became the first director of the resulting organization, La Alianza Hispana. She went on to become the Special Assistant to the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1974-1975, and Director of Consultation and Education at the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, 1975-1981. In 1981 Garcia became the director of United South End Settlements. During her 20-year tenure there, she spearheaded programs centered on housing, literacy and job training, and opened the first open-access computer center in the city of Boston. Alongside these professional positions, Garcia has served on seventy boards for organizations such as The Boston Foundation, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The United Way. The collection documents Frieda Garcia's many professional activities, involvement with community organizations and board memberships from the 1960s to the 2010s. Records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, publications, newsletters, and awards.

Arrangement

Organized into 10 series: 1. General, 2. Correspondence, 3. Trustee and Board of Directors, 4. Mayor's Commissions and City Committees, 5. La Alianza Hispana, 6. United South End Settlements, 7. ¡Merengue! Visual Rhythms/Ritmos Visuales Exhibition, 8. Reference, 9. Scrapbook and Press, 10. Awards.

Files are organized alphabetically or chronologically within series.

Physical Location

97/5-6

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Frieda Garcia donated the bulk of the collection to Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections in 2015. She donated several additional records in 2021 and 2022.

Sources for Biographical Note

  • Abraham, Yvonne. "Activist Makes a Name for Herself." Boston Globe, December 2, 2012. Accessed May 27, 2015. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/12/01/activist-makes-name-for-herself/aomJNNyre1a8QgjfL8VWLL/story.html.
  • Embrace Boston. "Our Heroes." Accessed May 5, 2023. https://stories.embraceboston.org/heroes
  • "Frieda Garcia." Poderometro, Hispanic News Press, 2007.
  • Frieda Garcia Park. "About Frieda Garcia." Accessed May 5, 2023. http://friedagarciapark.com/about/
  • Shannon, Hope J. Legendary Locals of Boston's South End, Massachusetts. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
Title
Finding aid for the Frieda Garcia papers
Author
Finding aid prepared by Irene Gates
Date
July 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US