Register of the Records of the
COUNCIL OF SPANISH SPEAKING ORGANIZATIONS OF PHIILADELPHIA
(EL CONCILIO DE ORGANIZACIONES HISPANAS DE FILADELFIA)
Gail E. Farr
Processing and cataloguing of this collection were supported in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia is a major social and cultural institution serving Puerto Ricans and Latinos in the community. Founded in 1962, the Council has played a vital part in representing the needs and interests of the Spanish speaking through programs ranging from a colorful Puerto Rican Week Festival, highlighting the history and culture of Spanishspeaking Americans, to social and educational programs for persons whose primary language is Spanish.
Because the history of the Council has been closely tied to the development of the Puerto Rican community in Philadelphia--of which there is, at present, no full-length, published account--this sketch begins with a profile of Puerto Rican Philadelphia. The next section provides a narrative overview of the history of El Concilio, or El Concilio de Organizaciones Hispanas de Filadelfia, as it was called in Spanish. This is followed by a guide to the records of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations in the Balch Institute library.
Puerto Rican Philadelphia: In 1960 Philadelphia's Puerto Rican population numbered an estimated 20,000. This made Philadelphia the home of the third largest Puerto Rican community on the mainland United States after New York, with its Puerto Rican population of around 650,000, and Chicago with a Puerto Rican community of 50,000. Most of this migration had occurred since World War II. Philadelphia's Puerto Rican population tripled in the years from 195460. From 1960 to 1970 the city's Puerto Rican population grew from 20,000 to 50,000. By 1990, according to the official census count, Philadelphia had a population of at least 87,000 Puerto Ricans and Latinos. Some sources estimated the number to be closer to 125,000.
Puerto Ricans were one of a number of Spanishspeaking groups in the Delaware Valley area. Information collected by the City of Philadelphia Department of Research and Planning in April 1966 showed that the Spanish-speaking population of Philadelphia and its surrounding four counties (Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, and Bucks) included persons from 21 different countries, of which Puerto Ricans made up only 57 percent of the total. (Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Clipping File, Temple University Urban Archives, Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia, 1966). But, for various reasons, Puerto Ricans were distinct from those who came from Cuba, Mexico, and Central or South America. First, Puerto Ricans were United States citizens and hence were not "immigrants" in a technical sense. Additionally, some of them migrated back and forth from the island without any definite plans of staying here permanently--a pattern which made it difficult for workers to advance beyond low-paid seasonal or service occupations. Moreover, many Puerto Ricans suffered from limited educational opportunities which made it difficult for them to find decent-paying jobs. Finally, because Puerto Ricans outnumbered other Spanish-speaking groups in the city, they tended to be a more ready target for prejudice and abuse.
Language and cultural differences contributed to difficulties between Puerto Ricans and their non-Hispanic neighbors. Moises Gonzalez, founder of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, cited police harassment as the chief issue facing Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia in the 1960s, noting as an example the frequent arrest of persons who sold Puerto Rican lottery tickets. Newcomers did not understand that while they could buy and sell these tickets on the island, it was illegal to do so here. Racial factors complicated the picture as seen in youth gangs which "exist among the Puerto Ricans as a defense against the Negro gangs," explained a City of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations spokesperson in 1964 (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 June 1964).
Tensions mounted as the Puerto Rican community outgrew the boundaries of its original location--an eastwest strip running roughly from 5th Street on the east, 24th Street on the west, Columbia Avenue on the north, and Spring Garden Street on the southwhich was being taken over by urban redevelopment. Some of the Puerto Rican residents from this area, along with more recent arrivals from the island, spread to other parts of the city, especially the area between black North Philadelphia to the north and west and white working-class Kensington to the east. By the early 1970s, North Fifth Street had become the hub of a new Spanish-speaking community stretching northward between Spring Garden Street and Roosevelt Boulevard. The North Fifth Street area also included Spanish-speaking residents from Cuba, Mexico, and Central and South America.
The Changing Roles of El Concilio: One of the Council's past presidents, Candelario Lamboy, has described the organization's role with respect to other Puerto Rican and Latino associations in the city as follows: "The Concilio has been a basic building block in the foundation of the Hispanic Community in every way and form, from policy making and advocacy with local government, community agencies, educational institutions and with the private sector" (Concilio: 25th Anniversary 1988, pp. 34). Within this broad general framework, the emphasis of El Concilio's programs has shifted several times as the following account shows.
Founding Years 1962-67: In the early 1960s, the city's Puerto Rican community was relatively small. There were, however, a number of social and fraternal organizations for the Spanish-speaking. On 1 October 1962, these groups joined together to form a membership federation which they named the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations. The Council was the first organization of its type in Philadelphia to unite the city's Puerto Rican and Latino social and civic groups into a coalition for representing Spanish-speaking constituencies to the city at large. Originally the Council was made up of a half-dozen affiliate organizations. By 1968 the Council had 13 affiliates, and by 1976 it represented 21 member organizations with a total of 105 active delegates.
The Council defined its mission in four broad areas: police/community relations, employment, and housing and social services. Initially these programs were limited in scope because the organization relied solely on voluntary efforts and had no paid staff. The first headquarters of the organization was located at 2023 N. Front Street, Kensington. The group started a newspaper, La Voz del Concilio, supported by funds from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (the first issue appeared in September 1966). Among other accomplishments of these years, El Concilio assisted the School District of Philadelphia in establishing a bilingual program; developed bilingual informational handouts for governmental offices such as the City of Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections (the agency responsible for grievances relating to substandard housing); and recruited Spanish-speaking applicants for the police and fire departments.
Multi-Purpose Social Agency 1967-72: Next came a period of activism and outreach in which El Concilio incorporated (1967) and became a social service provider in the federal war on poverty (1967-72). In response to the unmet need for social servicesit was frequently observed that Latinos would not seek assistance from existing public agencies. El Concilio established its own multi-purpose social program, Project Welcome, in 1968. Aimed primarily toward the needs of early new arrivals from Puerto Rico, the broad goals of the project were to organize the community, set up training programs, give classes in consumer education, and develop leadership. Project Welcome involved several full-time staff including a job developer and social worker who offered placement and training programs including a job bank list; social services counseling and referral; escrow services for tenants whose houses had been declared unfit for habitation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections; and services to assist qualified applicants secure public housing, participate in federal housing programs, and increase home ownership options for target-area residents.
The results of Project Welcome highlighted the need for social services among the city's Spanish-speaking residents. The total clientele handled by El Concilio's Employment Department alone, from October 1968 through December 1971, was nearly 21,000. Of this total, approximately 54 percent were referred to job slots ("Annual Report," April 1972, p. 5, 17).
Project Welcome was Concilio's first federallyfunded undertaking. The project was funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity through grants awarded by the Philadelphia Anti-Poverty Action Commission (PAAC), the agency established by order of the mayor in February 1965 to guide the city's anti-poverty campaign under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
Project Welcome mirrored goals of federal antipoverty initiatives of the 1960s. First, Concilio claimed its approach rationalized the distribution of social services to a minority population. As its officers explained, through Project Welcome, "The Council since 1968 has endeavored to provide the most efficient delivery of social services as possible" among the Spanish-speaking ("Progress Report," April 1973, p. 13). Efforts were made to build on other available resources. When Project Welcome got underway, Concilio provided office space to employees of the Puerto Rican Department of Labor's Migration Division to help clients find work. Moreover, the organization sought private funds to augment the public grant. The United Fund, for instance, supported the expansion of the employment program from 1971-75. Secondly, Project Welcome gave minority representatives a voice in shaping the provision of social services to their group. At the time of PAAC's inception, there was no Spanish-speaking representation on the commission; by 1970, Concilio president Carlos J. Morales served as a mayoralappointed representative to PAAC. A third notable feature of Project Welcome was that it probably encouraged interaction between Philadelphia's Puerto Ricans and Latinos of different national origins, though the extent of this is hard to gauge. As a federally-funded program, Project Welcome was available to all who needed its bilingual services. In 1972 the Project Welcome Advisory Board included at least one Cuban-born officer (Pedro E. Pupo), but Puerto Ricans remained the predominant client group.
As El Concilio became increasingly active in social services, some of its activities shifted to other organizations. In 1969 Concilio founded the Spanish Merchants Association of Philadelphia to provide information and technical assistance to Spanish-speaking businessmen. Concilio also assisted in establishing a Philadelphia chapter of Aspira (1969), the fifth local chapter of the organization begun in New York in 1961 to encourage Puerto Rican youth to complete their educations. The Council remained active in sponsoring educational opportunities, including English classes for adults. (See Puerto Rican Week Festival 1972 program booklet, for a sketch of Concilio's work in the field of education).
During the early 1970s, Concilio received two grants from the Philadelphia Model Cities Program of the Model Cities Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal urban renewal program. The first award enabled Concilio to commission a Community Residential Survey to collect comprehensive demographic data on areas containing a significant Spanishspeaking population. The survey was intended for use in preparing a comprehensive, long-range plan to guide the physical and social development of the Spanish-speaking community. Model Cities also supported Concilio's move to a larger facility, awarding the Council a $200,000 grant to acquire and renovate the Pannonia Beneficial Association facility at 705709 N. Franklin Street.
Employment Training: Another program which developed in the 1970s was that of employment placement and training. Concilio had had an Employment Division from early on to perform job development, followup, and intake services. Concilio's first formal efforts to provide employment training under government sponsorship began with a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Employment Security, subcontractor for the WIN (Work Incentive Program) of the U.S. Department of Labor, to employ persons in public service jobs in 1974.
Specialization in Social Services 1970-77: Under the executive directorship of Carmen Bolden (1970-1977), a number of the programs which began under Project Welcome developed into separate specialized activities, each with its own sources of funding and professional staff. Mrs. Bolden had come to work as an administrative assistant for Concilio in 1968 and succeeded Jose M. Camacho in the executive director post. Programs developed under her leadership included:
Centro PAIAN Program: In 1975 Concilio presented a proposal to the City of Philadelphia Coordinating Office for Drug Abuse and Alcohol Programs (CODAAP) to operate a bilingual outpatient treatment center in North Central Philadelphia. Gaudenzia, Inc., consulted on the plans for the center, which opened in 1976. Centro PAIAN provided group therapy, individual counseling, medical and psychiatric services, family counseling, G.E.D. courses, bible studies, recreational activities, referrals and followup services.
Consumer Education Program: The purpose of this program was to inform the Spanish-speaking community about consumer topics such as housing, buying on credit, and how to recognize and avoid unfair trade practices. It was supported by a sub-grant made from funds allocated by the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to the Pennsylvania Governor's Justice Commission of the state Department of Justice in accord with the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The program began in December 1973. A Neighborhood Advisory Board made up of representatives from five predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods and representatives from several consumer-related fields (Health Services, Consumer Protection, Education, and Local Business) served as an outreach arm for the program and helped channel resources into the organization to support program activities. Under the guidance of its first director, Venezuelan-born Alvaro Gutierrez, the program sponsored workshops and developed a bilingual leaflet series with eyecatching graphics. A Spanish Consumer Fair, held for the first time in 1974, attracted 500 persons.
Ombudsman (Consumer Protection) Program: This program grew out efforts begun by the Fellowship Commission, a city-wide, nonprofit organization, to develop a consumer protection service in low-income areas. The Commission established a branch office at the El Concilio headquarters around 1970 and for a time the two organizations conducted the service cooperatively. Then, in 1973, El Concilio sought funding to establish and operate its own Ombudsman Program. The purpose of the program was to protect Spanish-speaking Philadelphians from being victimized by fraudulent business practices which deterred their progress into the economic mainstream. As one brochure explained, "The unplanned-for debts, which they often incur due to the shady practices of some stores, make sound family budgeting impossible. Poor credit ratings, deep and seemingly endless debt, and bankruptcy are the results of such practices for many individuals." ("Summary of Special Projects, 1975-76," p. 4).
The initial grant for the Concilio Ombudsman Program was awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs through the Philadelphia AntiPoverty Action Commission. The focal point for the program was a complaint center which handled complaints from consumers or citizens against any level of government or business. The initial grant award was $43,000 for a twelve-month period. The program grew rapidly so that by the end of the first year, staff officers were processing 500 complaints a month. The case load grew after July 1974 when many of the other neighborhood-based consumer protection programs such as those conducted by Model Cities closed because of funding cuts: the Council's service remained open because it had a different funding source. When the Department of Community Affairs reduced its support for the program in 1975, Mrs. Bolden merged the consumer protection service into the Consumer Education office and sought funds from private sources such as the William Penn Foundation to make up the budget shortfall for the complaint center which was heavily used. From 1974-76, the Consumer Protection program case load quadrupled and the ethnic composition changed from almost entirely Latino and Puerto Rican to approximately onethird Spanish-speaking; the remaining clients were evenly divided between African Americans and whites. During 1975-76, the Ombudsman program handled 4,075 complaints. Major areas of complaints were landlord-tenant relations, housing, automobile repairs, and fraud and deceptive sales practices involving furniture, appliances, mail order merchandise, home improvements, and insurance. ("Summary of Special Projects, 1975-76," p. 7, gives percentages of various types of cases handled.)
Redirection Center: enabled El Concilio to provide outreach assistance to Spanish-speaking exoffenders in the Philadelphia area as subject to provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and later amendments. The program began in 1976 under a sub-grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Justice, Governor's Justice Commission, through funding from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). With the cooperation with the Philadelphia office of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, and with the cooperation of the city's Office of the Superintendent of Prisons (a division of the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Welfare), the Center provided educational, vocational, and counseling services to Spanish-speaking residents of correctional facilities at Holmesburg, the House of Correction, the Detention Center, and the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Among its activities, the Center distributed Spanish versions of voter registration materials, manuals of prisoners' rights, and information about services for exoffenders in cooperation with the Prisoners' Rights Council of Philadelphia which produced these handouts. Statistics showed a need for the service: in its first months in operation (OctoberDecember 1976) the Redirection Center aided 47 clients. Stanford R. Lamb, previously associated with the Council's consumer program, headed the Redirection Center from 1976-78.
Senior Citizens Nutrition Program: Beginning in March 1974, the Council, under contract with the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), provided a daily hot meal to the elderly. The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging was designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be the Area Agency on Aging, and, as such, it was the chief contractor in the city of Philadelphia to conduct the federal nutrition program for the elderly which was set up under Title VII of the Older Americans Act of 1965 and later amendments. El Concilio operated the meal program from a center at York and Hancock streets. Other services were added including recreational and cultural activities, case work, and escort and transportation services on minibuses purchased for the seniors program. Although the clientele was predominantly Spanishspeaking, it included African-Americans, and white area residents.
Veterans Outreach Program: This program was designed to enrich and supplement government and private veteran programming by preparing the veteran population in the Puerto Rican and Latino communities for employment opportunities, to render personal and technical assistance, and to provide followup services for veterans. Services included counseling and career planning, job recruitment and placement, referral services, educational and training assistance, business development assistance, and social and health services referral.
The program went into operation in November 1972. During its first year, the staff identified and contacted over 700 Spanish-speaking veterans and registered and counseled 464 of these individuals. Funding was provided by the National Puerto Rican Forum under contract with the U.S. Department of Labor. The program ended after the passage of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973 (CETA) shifted responsibility for such programs to local manpower plans.
Reorientation 1977-1984: The years from 1977-84 were troubled ones for El Concilio. First came financial difficulties which led to the termination of Carmen Bolden in mid-1977. Subsequently the Council came under increased public scrutiny when irregular accounting procedures came to light. Allegations concerning unpaid back taxes blocked the organization's attempts to seek further public funds which were increasingly hard to come by in the new political climate which developed both locally, following Mayor Frank Rizzo's succession by Mayor William Green (1979) and, at the federal level, following the election of President Ronald Reagan (1980).
Meanwhile El Concilio experienced its own internal difficulties. After her removal from the directorship, Carmen Bolden organized a petition drive (1978) to protest Concilio's new regime. Bolden claimed that the new leadership had diverted the organization from serving the poor and disadvantaged (Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, November 26, 1978). For whatever reasons, by 1981, El Concilio was regarded in some quarters as a defunct organization. "Philadelphia's Hispanic community has been splintered since the collapse of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations in 1978," the Delaware Valley Agenda reported on 10 June 1981, noting that attorney Luis Diaz had established another organization, the Hispanic Federation for Social and Economic Development, to incorporate existing Puerto Rican and Latino community organizations and social service agencies.
But El Concilio retained a continuing corporate identity throughout this period of crisis. Bolden was succeeded as executive director by Roberto Ivan Figueroa (1977-78) who was followed by acting director Asuncion Muhoz and executive director Benjamin Cuebas. In 1979 the Council was still operating a number of programs including the senior citizens center, Centro PAIAN, and a Manpower Employment and Training Program staffed with several additional employees including new job developer Benjamin Ramos. Finally, in 1984, auditors ruled in favor of Concilio in its dispute with the IRS. State officials in Harrisburg thereupon extended the organization's permit to generate funds as a non-profit organization. Maribel Lamboy Patruno became program director, and in 1987 she became executive director of the Council.
El Concilio addressed other challenges in the 1980s. Like many Philadelphians, Puerto Ricans increasingly found themselves faced with economic barriers: lack of jobs, neighborhood decay caused by loss of industry in the inner city, and the impact of public policy changes on social programs. To cope with these problems, Concilio resumed its employment training programs under contract through the City of Philadelphia's Office of Employment and Training which administered funds authorized by the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973 (CETA) and by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) which replaced CETA.
Meanwhile, as Puerto Ricans continued to arrive in Philadelphia, El Concilio sought through various means to help them preserve their native language and cultural heritage. The most outstanding example of the Council's cultural stewardship was its sponsorship of the Puerto Rican Week Festival. First celebrated in 1964, the festival developed into an exuberant week-long gala which underscores the Puerto Rican presence in Philadelphia while keeping memories of the island alive.
El Concilio Today: The Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations is continuing to explore approaches to poverty and unemployment in the 1990s. As current Concilio president Ramonita Rivera explained, "Since government and city funding sources have become tighter in recent years, Concilio has been depending more and more on volunteer services to maintain its level of operations" and has sought alternative sources of support. (Puerto Rican Week Festival Program, 1992, p. 11). In 1992, part of the funding for El Concilio's employment service was provided by the Philadelphia Urban Coalition; the Employment and Training Program was funded by the Philadelphia Private Industry Council, as was the summer youth employment program, PhilaJob, in which El Concilio participates. The ESL (English as a Second Language) and GED (General Education) courses which the Council sponsors are funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The Council also houses the Institute for Science and Business Education which provides the training needed in automated business offices.
President Rivera stressed the importance of the social services offered by the organization. The newest of these is a day care program. The organization has also started a new drug and alcohol program called "La Clinica." Other programs include employment counseling, referral services, SCOH (Service to Children in their Own Home) through contract with city's Department of Human Services and foster care.
Perhaps most importantly, El Concilio continues to address the hardship of Puerto Ricans which still persists. Through sponsorship of private donors including WCAU-TV 10 and others, El Concilio conducts an Emergency Service Fund to assist needy persons and families with food and other necessities.
Puerto Rican Week Festival*: The city's annual Puerto Rican Week Festival (Festival Puertorriqueno Filadelfia), sponsored by the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, was held for the first time in 1964. The festival has since grown to include a full week of activities and has been described by one of its officers as "the single most important event for Hispanics living in the Philadelphia region." The principle activities are the celebration of Puerto Rican Day (the last Sunday of September), a grand parade (Desfile Puertorriqueno), a banquet, and the Miss Puerto Rico-Philadelphia pageant. The festival also includes a Mini-Olympics; cultural offerings such as Latin musical and dance performances; public service awards; and speeches focusing on the goals and needs of Philadelphia's Latinos.
The festival is planned and organized by a committee within the Council of Spanish Organizations which works together with a president for the event who is chosen annually from the Puerto Rican community leadership. Names of past Puerto Rican Week Festival presidents have included Moises Gonzalez (1964), Ramonita Rivera (1978), George Perez (1980), Candelario Lamboy (1983), Mercedez Sanchez (1984), Honorable Nelson A. Diaz (1988), and Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Benjamin Ramos (1993). Among its other duties, the committee handles financial aspects of the festival such as fundraising through sales of advertising and solicitation of corporate contributions. Traditionally, the officers have also devoted considerable effort to involving elected officials either as speakers or supporters: festivities have generally included proclamations by the mayor, the governor, and the president of the United States. Through the week-long celebration and related publicity, the festival generates jobs and business opportunities for Puerto Ricans and other Spanish-speaking residents of the Delaware Valley.
The history of the festival includes a number of memorable moments and "firsts." In 1971, the first woman, Mrs. Minerva Dean, was selected as president of the committee. Mayor Frank Rizzo, in official recognition of the parade, walked the entire parade route in 1972 (the 1988 festival program includes a photograph of this event). In 1973 and 1974, the festival presented awards to the first citizen of the year and the first sportsman of the year. In 1976, Mayor Rizzo officially recognized Puerto Rican Week in the City of Philadelphia and Governor Milton Shapp officially recognized it in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By 1978, the festival had grown so large that it was made a subsidiary corporation to El Concilio. The festival continued to expand each year, attracting its largest turnout in 1987. By that time the festival was being managed by an executive committee, which consisted of a president, four vicepresidents, a secretary, treasurer, and thirteen subcommittees.
Some of the activities which have become a part of Puerto Rican Week (with the year they started in parenthesis) are: festival program booklet (1964); selection of Miss Puerto Rico-Philadelphia as the young lady who sold the most tickets to the festival (1964); parade (1964); banquet (1964); festival date changed to last Sunday in September (1968); festival expanded from one day to a full week (1970); Citizen of the Year (1973); Sportsman of the Year (1974); Teacher of the Year (1975); queen of the parade awarded a car (1976), Miss Puerto Rico-Philadelphia, the queen of the parade, was to be chosen by a pageant on the basis of appearance, talent, personality, and intelligence instead of number of tickets sold (1978).
*This text was prepared by archival assistant Anthony St. Joseph who processed the Council's records from the Puerto Rican Week Festival. Mr. St. Joseph is an undergraduate history major at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia.
The records of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations were donated to the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 1992.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
These records of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations span the years from 1966 to 1990. At least half of the overall quantity of material concerns the period of Carmen Bolden's executive directorship from 1970 to 1977. Approximately onefourth of the collection concerns the period from 1982-1990. There are few items from the period from 1966-1972 and little from 1979-81.
The collection contains correspondence, minutes, financial records, reports, historical summaries, studies, planning documents, clippings, statistical information, grant applications, contracts, and files for programs administered by the organization. The records reflect areas of Puerto Rican and Latino history in Philadelphia and are particularly strong in documenting the provision of social services to these groups through bilingual programs in such areas as care for the aged; youth services; bilingual education; adult basic education; occupational and employment training; consumer education; outpatient drug treatment; aid to exoffenders; and through programs to promote cultural awareness such as the Puerto Rican Week Festival. The records also detail the general history of the organization such as its relationship to affiliate bodies, businesses, and other public and private organizations.
The program files which make up a large part of the collection contain detailed information on the methods used in introducing these programs among Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia, the development of professional staff to conduct the programs, methods of administering the programs, and the politics of grantsmanship in the field of bilingual social services.
Access Policies: Portions of this collection including personnel records and case files have been closed for research use for periods of up to fifty (50) years to protect the privacy of individuals and to conform to agency guidelines regulating access to information about clients. For further information about materials marked "Restricted" in the container list below, please consult the Balch staff archivist.
The following paragraphs describe the scope and content of the collection at the series and subseries levels.
Series 1: General Administrative Records. 1966-1990. Boxes 1-21: consists of the following five subseries: Subseries 1: Reports and Printed Information, 1966-88; Subseries 2: Board of Directors Records, 197388; Subseries 3: Executive Director's Records, 1971-89; Subseries 4: General Financial Records, 1970-90; and Subseries 5: General Personnel Records, 1969-83, as described below:
Subseries 1. Reports and Printed Information, 1966-85, Box 1, contains general reports of the organization and printed matter. Some of the earliest items in the collection are found here.
Subseries 2. Board of Directors Records, 1973-88, Box 2, consists of minutes and correspondence of the Council's board of directors. The board minutes cover August-November 1973, 1977-78, and 1981-86. The minutes from the 1970s, though fragmentary, contain information of note such as references to social service budget cuts under the Nixon Administration. Also noted is a 1973 visit by Concilio officers to the General Embassy of Panama to discuss problems of a ship and crew anchored in Philadelphia.
The minutes of 1981-86 are more detailed. Evidently El Concilio did not have an executive director for some of this time and the board, headed by Council president Candelario Lamboy, handled much of organizational business. Included are discussion of the implementation of the JTPA employment program, summer youth employment programs, and Concilio's continuing disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and the City of Philadelphia over tax claims from 1977 which were not settled until 1984-85. The minutes of 31 May 1984, contain Candelario Lamboy's account of El Concilio's problems since 1978-79 in which he cited the city's new administration, economic problems leading to the loss of federal grants to community agencies, and a 1979 political move to terminate the organization as chief causes of the organization's difficulties. The minutes of 1984 record the creation of a planning committee to help reorient the organization away from multi-service programs and avoid duplication of services.
The minutes for 1985 record the board's response to a Focus community newspaper account which alleged that El Concilio's board had refused to allow recently-elected Philadelphia City Councilman Angel L. Ortiz (the first Puerto Rican in Philadelphia elected to this post) to make a statement at an El Concilio board meeting. The board held a special meeting with Ortiz to discuss their misunderstandings which is recorded in the minutes in detail.
A small amount of board correspondence from 1984-87 is preserved here. Included are exchanges between Council officers Candelario Lamboy and Maribel L. Patruno and Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode's office on a variety of matters including the creation of the Mayor's Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, El Concilio's requests for city council appropriations, the Private Industry Council of Philadelphia, and the city's Support Community Outreach Project grant awarded to Concilio in 1987-88.
Subseries 3. Executive Director's Records, 1971-89, Boxes 3-15: The greatest segment of these is made up of the files of executive director Carmen Bolden from 1971-77. They include general correspondence between Mrs. Bolden and state and local officials, grants program administrators, and social agency heads; memoranda documenting internal activities of El Concilio from 1974-77; reports and other miscellaneous items.
The general correspondence is filed chronologically in incoming files (Box 3-4) and outgoing files (Box 4-5). The incoming correspondence consists in large part of letters from administrators and staff of organizations involved in community service activities or social welfare work among Puerto Ricans. Among the organizations represented are the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Welfare; the Council of City-Wide Community Organizations; the Kensington Citizens' Committee; Pennsylvania SER/Jobs for Progress, Inc.; the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Southeastern Region office; the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission; the U. S. Civil Service Commission Philadelphia Region; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Philadelphia Area Office; and private business firms employing Puerto Ricans and Latinos. Additionally, the folders detail Carmen Bolden's political activism on behalf of various legislation. Files for May-June 1977 contain letters from Pennsylvania state legislators in response to Mrs. Bolden's support for house bills pertaining to school subsidies. Letters from U.S. congressmen and senators from Pennsylvania including H. John Heinz III in June of that year document Bolden's endorsement of the federal Consumer Protection Act of 1977. The files also include material on out-ofstate agencies such as Clinica Borinquen, Miami, and the National Urban Development Services Corporation, Washington, DC. Occasional letters addressed to other Concilio officers such as presidents Ramon Velazquez or Candelario Lamboy are mixed in with the incoming correspondence. Approximately ten percent of the incoming material is in Spanish.
Carmen Bolden's outgoing correspondence (Boxes 4-5) consists of photocopies of several hundred letters. They are made up in large part of letters to heads of agencies or foundations concerning applications for funding and include, in addition, pieces of a routine business nature. Approximately ten percent of this outgoing correspondence is in Spanish.
Of particular interest are the alphabetical files of executive correspondence in Boxes 8-15. These contain incoming and outgoing correspondence along with reports, minutes, and publications of Concilio's affiliate organizations and other groups such as those of which Mrs. Bolden was a board member. The folders on City of Philadelphia offices, on the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, on private funding agencies such as United Fund, and on the various social service institutions such as the Opportunities Industrialization Center's Centro Ramos Antonini are rich mines of information about Puerto Ricans and Latinos in Philadelphia.
Additionally, Subseries 3 includes files of executive directors Roberto Ivan Figueroa (1977-78) and Mirabel Lamboy Patruno (c. 1986-7). Please see attached container list for locations.
Subseries 4. General Financial Records, 1970-90 (Boxes 16-19) houses general financial records of the agency.
Subseries 5. General Personnel Records. 1969-83 (Boxes 20-21) contains information pertaining to persons employed by the organization. (Portions of the personnel records are unavailable for research use at this time).
Series 2: Project Welcome Records. 1972-1977 (Boxes 22-26): These materials detail the development of Project Welcome and its various programs. Included are correspondence, reports, and financial records. Some of the folders are designated by a "Program Year" as well as by a calendar date: the fiscal year ended 30 September 1972, for instance, was Program Year E (the 5th year of the program). Information about the programs operated by the Employment Department of Project Welcome are available in this series. Materials pertaining to Concilio's subcontract with the Pennsylvania State WIN (Work Incentive Program) agency to provide two public service employment jobs in 1974 have also been filed with the Project Welcome records.
Series 3: Centro PAIAN Program Records. 1975-1980 (Boxes 27-30): These records document the development of a bilingual drug treatment program. Included is background information about the City of Philadelphia Coordinating Office for Drug Abuse and Alcohol Abuse Programs (CODAAP) which sponsored the Centro PAIAN, correspondence, proposal drafts, reports, memoranda, and financial records for the program.
Series 4: Consumer Education Program Records. 1973-1977 (Box 31-35): The bulk of material about this program dates from 1973-76. The administrative files contain contracts pertaining to the program subgrant from the Pennsylvania Governor's Commission, Department of Justice, which administered funds allocated by the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Also included are a copy of the contract between the Council and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office which served as financial officer for the project grant. Additionally, the records contain correspondence and memoranda from officials of these agencies. Among these are letters from Yvonne B. Haskins, Regional Director of the Philadelphia Region, Governor's Justice Commission, concerning El Concilio's participation in the Philadelphia Regional Planning Council and other matters. Office files containing correspondence of the Council's Consumer Education Program director, Alvaro Gutierrez, and investigator Sonia A. Ortiz; memoranda; financial records, press releases, newsletters, and other printed items distributed by the program office. Most of the literature issued by the program is either bilingual or in Spanish only.
Series 5: Ombudsman (Consumer Protection) Program Records. 1970-1977 (Boxes 36-59): These files document Concilio's work in operating an ombudsman service for handling complaints brought by Spanish-speaking clients against landlords, auto sales businesses, and various other individuals and agencies for a variety of grievances. Included are few items pertaining to the operation of the Ombudsman program operated by the Fellowship Commission at the Council's headquarters from around 1970-72. Also included are contracts between the Council and the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs which sponsored the program beginning in 1973; proposals sent out by Carmen Bolden in search of alternate sources of funding in later project years from the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Philadelphia Urban Coalition, Philadelphia Foundation, and SmithKline Corporation (1974-76); correspondence with officers of the Economic Crime Unit of the City of Philadelphia District Attorney's Office concerning officers assigned to work with Concilio Ombudsman staff (1973); correspondence and memoranda of program director Roberto Rigal (1973-75) and supervisor of investigators Sonia A. Ortiz (1976); sample complaint forms; staff training materials; and financial records. Additionally, the files contain reports with aggregate data on characteristics of clients served. The progress reports along with other administrative files for the program are available for research use. The individual client files are not available for use at this time.
Series 6: Redirection Center Program Records. 1976-1979 (Boxes 60-62): This small but informative series sheds light on the Council's work with Spanish-speaking exoffenders. Most of the material is from 1976-77; there is also some information on 1978-79. Included are grant applications, contract agreements, reports, financial records, and office files. Of special note are the correspondence and memoranda of Center director Stanford Lamb, 1976-77. Lamb's files reflect his interest in networking with other organizations involved in welfare work in social and correctional institutions, including agencies providing services in such areas as domestic abuse and treatment of juvenile offenders. Included are discussion of a meeting with Community Legal Services focusing on the lack of bilingual personnel and prejudicial treatment of Spanish-speaking clients in hospitals and offices of the Philadelphia Department of Public Welfare. The series also contains exchanges between Council staff and volunteers and officials at institutions such as the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Several files concern the formation of a Latin Prisoners Rights Organization at Graterford. Portions of Series 6 are in Spanish. Those folders pertaining to specific clients are closed to users at this time.
Series 7: Senior Citizens Nutrition Program Records. 1973-1977 (Boxes 63-70): These records offer an illuminating look at the relationship between sponsors of social services for the elderly (in this case, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) and service providers). The files contain funding guidelines, applications, refunding proposals, manuals, reports, financial records, statistics on client use, financial records, and files of program head Carmen Aponte. Included are correspondence and memoranda from PCA program manager Matilde Burnick concerning the Council's subcontract and exchanges with Lincoln B. Wadsworth of the Philadelphia Baptist Association concerning the leasing of the First Spanish Baptist Church for program use.
Series 8: Veterans Outreach Program Records. 1972-1974 (Box 71): This series contains proposals and background information about the veterans program. Included is a proposal for a Spanish-speaking Veterans Outreach Program, under contract with the U.S. Department of Labor prepared by the National Puerto Rican Forum of New York in September 1972 which was a prototype for the Philadelphia program.
Series 9: Employment Training/CETA Program Records. 1975-1983 (Boxes. 72-75): This series contains files on employment training programs conducted by the Council under provisions of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973. Among these are records for Manpower CETA Grants/ Harrisburg, Contracts #0051 (October 1977-September 1978) and #9010 (October 1978-September 1979) which funded CETA Title I programs to provide classroom training services to participants. Also included are administrative files for the Council's contract with the City of Philadelphia Office of Employment and Training to operate a Direct Placement and Referral Service under CETA Title 1113 (1983). Information pertaining to the Council's Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, also operated under CETA provisions through the city's Office of Employment and Training, is found here.
Series 10: Employment Training/JTPA Program Records, 1983-1985 (Boxes 76-81): These materials pertain to employment programs operated by the Council under contract with the City of Philadelphia Office of Employment and Training as authorized by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). Signed into law in October 1982, the JTPA replaced CETA with a new program and delivery system to train economically disadvantaged persons for permanent, private-sector employment. The bulk of Series 10 consists of items related to the Council's "Hispanic Job Search Assistance" program conducted under contract with the city from October 1983-June 1984 (Contract (#A174103OHCD). Under this contract, Concilio attempted to place eligible applicants in a skilled/semiskilled or unskilled job developed by the Concilio project staff. Participants also received counseling assessment and job interviewing training through the program which was headed by Ovidio (Jack) Ortiz. Administrative records are available for research use. Applicant intake files are not available for research use at this time.
Series 11: Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program Records. 1984-1985 (Boxes 82-85): These items pertain to El Concilio's participation in a citysponsored employment program for disadvantaged youth. Files detail the stages in the development of the program from Concilio's standpoint such as securing the city contract; negotiating agreements with employing organizations to place Spanish-speaking youth at various worksites; budgets; and financial records. Administrative records concerning this program are available for research use; applicant intake forms and payroll records are not available for research use at this time.
Series 12: PhilaJob Program Records, 1985-1989 (Boxes 86-102): These materials document the Council's involvement in the PhilaJob summer youth employment program operated by the Private Industry Council of Philadelphia under the Job Training Partnership Act. Boxes 86-89 contain general information about PhilaJob, the Private Industry Council, and Council applications to participate in the program and are available for research use. Applicant intake files are not available for research use at this time.
Series 13: Puerto Rican Week Festival Records. 1976-1990 (Boxes 103-112): consist of the following subseries: Subseries 1, Administrative Records (1976-1990), Subseries 2, Correspondence (1984-89); Subseries 3, Financial records (1976-1990); and Subseries 4, Printed Material (1983-89), as described below:
Subseries 1: General Administrative Records, 1976-1990: These materials, dating chiefly from 1986-88, contain proposals to the board for many of the programs and activities held in conjunction with the festival such as the Latin Musical Concert and Cultural Night. There are extensive memoranda between the various committee members and committee heads. Also included are activities flyers, license applications, application forms for entering activities such as the Mini-Olympics, letters soliciting ads for the festival yearbook, materials concerning the Miss Puerto RicoPhiladelphia pageant, the 1987 pageant mailing list, and a list of pageant committee members.
Subseries 2: Correspondence. 1984-1989: These files consist mainly of exchanges between the festival board of directors and various individuals, organizations, and companies, most of which date from 1986-87. Correspondents include Acme Market, Anheuser Busch, Bell of Pennsylvania, Penn National Bank, the City of Philadelphia (including an official agreement between the City and the committee), Clement and Muller Inc., CocaCola, and Colt .45. The files also include greetings and proclamations from President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, governors and mayors of Puerto Rico, and United States senators and congressmen from Pennsylvania, which were featured in the festival agenda. Additionally, there is correspondence with agents of entertainers such as Erik Estrada. These records contain a list of all the companies which participated in the parade and activities as well as a list of companies which declined to participate.
Subseries 3: Financial Records. 1976-1990: These include receipts from various organizations and companies who purchased ads in the annual festival program booklets; sponsors of parade floats and other activities that were part of the festival; bank statements, bills, cash disbursements, canceled checks and checks received, expense reports, and income reports. The records include materials from 1976-78, 1985-88, and 1990. The records are most extensive for the years 1986-88.
Subseries 4: Printed Material, 1983-89: This subseries consists of copies of special Puerto Rican Week Festival issues of the newspaper La Actualidad which provided a lively pictorial record of the whole event. Subseries 4 also contains flyers and schedules. Copies of the annual Puerto Rican Week Festival printed program booklets are available in the Balch Institute Library (See Shelf List for a list of the years available).
Aspira of Pennsylvania, Inc. Records, 1969-1990. (Unprocessed). Balch Institute Library.
Diaz, Nelson A., Esq. Papers. (Unprocessed). Balch Institute Library.
Fifth Street Merchants Association Records, 19751-987. MSS 118. Balch Institute Library.
Hispanic Federation for Social and Economic Development Records, 1973-1985. MSS 116. Balch Institute Library.
Latino Project Records, 1963-1985. MSS 117. Balch Institute Library.
Puerto Rican Week Festival Records, 1979-1987. MSS 119. Balch Institute Library.
Rivera, Ramonita; and Rivera, Jose Papers, 1976-1991. Balch Institute Library.
Spanish Merchants Association of Philadelphia Records, 1970-1988. MSS 114. Balch Institute Library.
Temple University Library Urban Archives. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Clipping Files, "Puerto Ricans In Philadelphia," c. 1950-1980.
Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations: Celebrating 25 Years of Service. Philadelphia: The Council, 1988. Booklet published by the organization. (See Collection, Box 1).
Philadelphia Inquirer. Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia series, May 6-7, 1990. (Balch Institute Library: Vertical File).
Portions of these records consisted of thermofax duplicated sheets from the mid-1970s. These sheets have been reduplicated onto acid-free paper during processing to preserve information which would otherwise be lost. Thermofax is a non-stable medium in which the paper and copied image deteriorate over time. The thermofaxes have been disposed of except in instances where the original would not reproduce very well, in which case the original and a copy have been retained.
Some segments of the records have been photocopied because the originals had been water-damaged. In these instances, the originals have not been retained.
The records were grouped by project or contract when received by the Balch. Insofar as possible, the records have been kept in their original order.
The register of the records of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations
of Philadelphia is ninety-six pages long.