El Teatro Campesino, a theater group based out of San Juan Bautista, California, has been putting on productions for 50 years. The group, whose name translates to “the farm-worker’s theater,” grew out of Chavez’s United Farmworkers of America union. The UFW’s Great Grape Strike of 1965 set the stage, literally, for Luis Valdez to apply his theatrical talents in order to tell the story of the Chicana/o campesinos. Since 1965, the group has used its art to advocate for Chicanos across the United States.
The objects that comprise the El Teatro Campesino Digital Library belong to the collections of Marymount Manhattan College’s Archive, housed on 221 East 71st Street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side at the school’s main building and library.
After his death in 2000, the family of William B. Harris donated his papers to the college, and it is in the archives that the objects in the ETC Digital Library are found. The collection of papers donated to MMC by the Harris family is massive in scope, due to William’s careful filing system of newspaper clippings and other print media about people and shows relevant to his work. Along with thousands of newspaper clippings, 96 unpublished scripts are included in the William B. Harris collection at the MMC Archive.
It is within the Clippings series of the collection that we find the “Valdez, Luis” folder, containing objects relating to the playwright and founder of El Teatro Campesino. I selected this collection within the series for its visual value and potential for exploring the course theme: The Economization of Information & its Effect on life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness.