Celebrating the SACNAS Archive: Preserving SACNAS History for Future Research and Study

Friday, May 31, 2013

643 Linton & MurilloMiguel Murillo, a Chicana/o Studies major and Gender Studies minor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is studying the role that mentoring plays in the success of Latinas in engineering. For him, learning about the work of SACNAS and that the organization’s archive is housed at the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) on the UCLA campus, put his research in a much larger context. “SACNAS is a transformative organization that has aided our community in achieving what we once thought unattainable, such as Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, or PhDs in STEM-related fields.”

Murillo was one of the three dozen people who attended a reception on May 23, 2013 at CSRC to celebrate the opening of the SACNAS archive in conjunction with the organization’s 40th anniversary. The archive includes photographs, founding documents and correspondence, early membership rosters, newsletters, publications, and a large holding of digitized video and audio footage.

He was honored to hear SACNAS founding members Drs. Elma Gonzalez and Marigold Linton speak, and their remarks affirmed for Murillo the importance of the collection. He reflected, “Due to the history of resistance, ingenuity, and success of the organization, the archive captures the forty-year legacy of not just individual members but of SACNAS has a whole.” Murillo says he is eager to dive into the archival material for his own research.

Preserving 40 Years of SACNAS History

SACNAS was founded in 1973, emerging alongside the Chicano and American Indian movements of the early 70s. Early members were the first people in their communities to receive PhDs in science, the first Chicanos and Native Americans to be hired in their departments, and the first mentors for a new generation of Chicano and Native American scientists.

SACNAS President, Dr. Maggie Werner-Washburne noted, “Having the SACNAS archive at UCLA secures our place in history. Our efforts will be part of the written and oral record.”

Dr. Elma Gonzalez, a professor emerita from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was proud that the646 Linton & Gonzalez with Werner-Washburne archive documents the integration of Chicanos and Native Americans into American society. She added, “There is plenty of documentation on Chicano and Native American artists, activists, and politicians, but up until now, there hasn’t been a documentation of our communities in science.”

Lizette Guerra, the head archivist and librarian for the CSRC remarked, “We are honored to be stewards of this SACNAS records and this collection is by no means complete.” She encouraged all SACNAS members, especially founders, to consider contributing material to the archive, which, she emphasized, “is critical to documenting a gap in the historical record, showing how SACNAS paved the way—pushed the doors open for our communities in STEM.”

A Fitting Home for the SACNAS Archive

Established in 1969, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library was the first library in the United States to focus on the Mexican-descent population. Today, the CSRC Library is considered to hold among the most important national and international research collections in existence on the Chicana and Chicano experience. It continues to serve the needs of students and faculty at UCLA and around the world.

Establishing a Path for Diversity in STEM

647 ZarateDr. Sonia Zarate, who first joined SACNAS as an undergraduate and is now the Associate Director of Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences at UCLA, joined the celebration. She said, “The story of SACNAS is rich and documents the 40 year evolution of the organization. By knowing where we have been, we can better plan where we will go.”

Not only is the archive an important record for SACNAS as the organization charts the course for the next four decades, it is also an important research tool for future scholars interested in studying the intersection of the civil rights movement and science and the early Chicano and Native American contributions to America’s scientific endeavor.

Dr. Dagan Karp, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, wants the archive to serve as a tool for increasing diversity in the future. “Hopefully scholars will study these materials, learn from pervious challenges and successes, and help us find a path toward equity in STEM.”

Contribute & Participate

For information on how to contribute materials to the SACNAS archive or conduct research, contact Lizette Guerra at: [email protected]. For more information on the SACNAS 40th anniversary or to share your story as a SACNISTA, contact Jenny Kurzweil at: [email protected].

Related Resources

More about SACNAS' 40th Anniversary

Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA

View photos of the archive celebration