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Identifier: WH1842


Agendas, meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, notes and articles comprise the bulk of the collection. The papers range from 1958 to 2004 with the bulk of the documents dating from 1985. Internal communications include email and memos exchanged by the staff. Sample articles and reports constitute the research series with many LARASA-produced reports and newsletters.


The bulk of the series ranges from 1992 to 2004. Annual reports, agendas, correspondence, membership lists and meeting minutes comprise this series. Arranged chronologically, the papers reveal changes in people, methods, areas of focus and level of involvement over time. Several years of correspondence document LARASA's review of potential board members, with the expectations of fund-raising skills and a high level of commitment and attention to the Hispanic community's problems.


Documents in this series reveal LARASA's administrative functions. Agendas and minutes of staff meetings disclose major issues discussed. Job descriptions, calendars, notes, memos and email comprise the bulk of the series. Papers relating to personnel, equipment and facilities are included. Arranged chronologically, this series also demonstrates changes in the operation and personnel.

SERIES 3 FINANCIAL 1987-2002 BOX 8-17

While maintaining its partnership with Mile High United Way, LARASA sought grants, carried out membership drives and conducted an annual fund-raising dinner known as the Bernie Valdez Award Luncheon. Audits, financial statements, lists of grants and lists of organizations from which LARASA sought funding comprise this series. The chronological arrangement of the bulk of the papers reveal how the financial support for LARASA changed from its beginnings in 1964 to 2004. Folders containing papers for organizations from which LARASA sought aid are arranged alphabetically demonstrating the breadth of its efforts.

SERIES 4 PROJECTS 1986-2004 BOX 17-37

This series contains papers for LARASA services for the Hispanic population throughout Denver and Colorado. Correspondence, flyers, notes and other documents address issues such as health, education, housing and cultural competency. Reports include statistical information on causes and possible solutions for problems like the high dropout rate of Denver Hispanics. Reports also document practical projects aimed at improving the quality of life with school supplies for children, nutrition for diabetic family members, encouraging seat belt usage and encouraging women of child-bearing age to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects. In more recent years, papers show that cultural competency training became a major component of LARASA's activities.


Papers from organizations, corporations and governmental agencies comprise this series. The organizations (mostly nonprofit) vary from those with similar goals such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) to those centered upon topics of special interest to LARASA such as the American Diabetes Association. Several organizations in this category provided grants to LARASA over the years. The papers in this series are arranged alphabetically by the name of the organization or agency.

SERIES 6 RESEARCH 1958-2004 BOX 42-49

This series contains sample articles, reports and other documents relating to areas of interest for LARASA. Saved and collected by various staff members over the years, the papers encompass health, education, historical and political information. Arranged first alphabetically by broad topic and then chronologically, the papers provide background information for LARASA staff to answer reference questions, to write reports and to provide background information for grant proposals.


The publication series contains a broad array of topics produced by LARASA for a number of audiences. Newsletters, reports, and special topical reports are included. In addition, the series includes forms from which orders were placed for the multitude of items produced to further Latino understanding of issues and demographics. A series of reports called Latinos in Colorado covered several topics over a period of years. Legislative reports were another aspect of their publications. Issue tracking and research were dominant themes.


Several audiocassette recordings of focus groups on breast cancer and Hepatitis C are part of this series, with CD-ROMs on breast cancer, AIDS and Folic Acid, and two 3.5" floppy discs with files formatted for Macintosh/Apple operating systems comprising the balance.


This series contains color photographs and negatives that relate to staff, events, meetings and activities held by LARASA.


The series contains unprocessged material added to collection.

Including former WHG-Hybrid collection: Miscellaneous Hispanic and Western Newspaper and Periodical Collection containing newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and clippings from the LARASA (Latin American Research and Service Agency) collection consist mostly of Latin American [Chicano, Aztlan, Native American, Cuba] subjects and Democratic, Progressive, or Socialist politics. Some Asian, African and Native American items are included; women's and environmental subjects are also represented. There are a number of Colorado underground papers, 'zines, and a few markedly radical and/or pictorial items. There are also publications of various Colorado departments: education, police, energy, and Glenwood Canyon development. The some 250 titles are mostly single-date issues, with some multiple editions. Box 83 contains Hispanic American newspapers, Box 84 contains newspapers related to specific social or political issues, and Box 85 includes a variety of newsletters and journals. Print index available in each box and in WHG "reference files" folder.


  • 1958-2005

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


Incorporated on March 13, 1964, the Latin American Research and Service Agency, known as LARASA, set as its purpose "improving the industrial, economic, social and spiritual conditions of Spanish Americans..." (Certificate of Incorporation). Twenty-seven Denver activists including Lena Archuleta, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Levi Beall, Charles Tafoya, Rachel Noel, Roger Cisneros, Bernie Valdez and Benjamin Bezoff, among others, felt that an agency was needed to insure Hispanic participation in the social and economic mainstream. They planned for the agency to serve as a foundation for community-based programs in metropolitan Denver. LARASA hoped to identify the needs of the Hispanic population and to suggest solutions. A proposal to the United Fund (now the United Way) helped provide funding for the establishment of the specialized agency starting in 1965.

Eventually, Mile High United Way funding proved insufficient. Grants from corporations and other national agencies provided money for limited one-time projects. LARASA subsidized major projects like Strengthening Families and diabetes outreach with a variety of grants from governmental and large nonprofit agencies such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), of which LARASA is an affiliate member. Membership drives and sales of publications supplied additional income.

After years of occupying office space provided free by United Way, LARASA acquired its own building at 309 West First Avenue in Denver, Colorado. It was still headquartered at this location in 2010. Charles Tafoya served as the first interim director until John Garcia was hired in 1965. Garcia resigned in 1967, and Tafoya served as executive director until 1973. Betty A. Salazar was executive director in the 1970s, resigning in 1980. Bernard Valdez, Joe Nunez and others acted as interim executive directors from 1980 to 1981. Rudolfo G. Payan was the executive director from 1981 to 1982, followed by Pete M. Mirelez in 1983, Jose Nunez in 1985, and Dr. Audrey R. Alvarado from 1985 to 1991. Maria Guajardo Lucero was executive director from 1992 until 1997 when Rufina Hernandez assumed the position. Hernandez remained until 2002. From 2002 to 2004, Polly Baca was the executive director. Thomas F. Ogas was President and CEO in 2009.

Since its inception, LARASA has variously focused on education, health care, public policy, employment, housing, child welfare and poverty as issues affecting the Hispanic community in Colorado. LARASA was adept at creating outreach programs, offering cultural competency training, and collecting and disseminating up-to-date statistics on Hispanics in Colorado. The organization helped provide direct services to people and at the same time strove to influence policy on a state and national level.

In 2010, LARASA's website announced that "LARASA is re-focusing it's efforts on our past pillars of success: advocacy, research and direct services. The new and improved LARASA will advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, deliver relevant information and data about issues and policies that impact our communities and provide the community with access to critical social and government services." Dr. Estevan Flores, a sociologist, was named interim director in 2010.


85 boxes (84.25 linear feet)

2 audiovisual boxes

1 photo boxes

Language of Materials



Spanish; Castilian

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Polly Baca, LARASA Executive Director, and the LARASA Board of Directors, 2003-2004.

The National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC) provided partial funding for the processing of this collection.


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.


Ann Brown

Kellen Cutsforth

Roger Dudley

Abby Hoverstock


Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States