UNT Archives receives collection from photographer of local Latino community

Saturday, March 3, 2007

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- When more than 350,000 people, including many Latinos, marched in downtown Dallas last April in protest of proposed immigration reform laws, journalist José L. Castillo was there to capture the day on film. He's photographed many events in the Dallas-Fort Worth Latino community for the last two years, despite having no formal training as a photographer.

"I bought my first camera in 2000 and started taking it everywhere," said Castillo, a Katie Award-winning correspondent for the international EFE News Service and a freelance writer. "A picture can say much more than a story."

Although some Spanish-language newspapers have published his photos, Castillo has an archive of 2,891 unpublished photos taken between July 2004 and this past July. He recently donated his collection to the University of North Texas Archives as the José L. Castillo Photograph Collection.

The UNT Archives will formerly accept the donation during a ceremony March 2 (Friday) at 6 p.m. in the Archives, Room 430 of UNT's Willis Library. The library is located one block east of Highland Street and Avenue C.

In addition to Castillo, guests will include Enrique Hubbard-Urrea, Consul General of Mexico in Dallas and a former ambassador with the Mexican Foreign Service, as well as representatives from the Willis Library. A reception will follow the ceremony in the library's Rare Book Room, Room 437.

The event is part of the National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies Tejas Regional Conference, which will take place at UNT March 1-3 (Thursday-Saturday).

Library staff members are working to make Castillo's photos available on UNT's Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu), which provides students and others with a digital gateway to collections in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private collections.

Maintained by the Digital Projects Unit of the UNT Libraries, the portal contains more than 100,000 pages of primary source materials, and includes items such as maps, books, manuscripts, diaries, photographs and letters.

In addition to including photos of protests and political events in the Latino community, the Castillo collection includes photos of community and political leaders (such as Salvador Espino of Fort Worth City Council District 2) taken at meetings and other events over several months. Castillo has also photographed festivals, Latino soccer leagues and other gatherings in the North Texas area.

"We are 20 to 30 years behind in archiving the history of the Latino community in North Texas," Castillo said. "I hope that my donation will encourage other photographers and reporters to place their images and materials in the Archives, so in 10 years our kids will be able to access it and learn about historic events."

Dreanna Belden, coordinator of grants and development for the UNT libraries, said the photos will be placed into categories and will be easily searchable via keywords. They will have captions in both English and Spanish.

Castillo, a native of Lima, Peru, has been the Dallas-Fort Worth correspondent for EFE News Service, the world's largest Spanish-language news agency and the fourth largest newswire in the world, since 2004. He has also worked as a freelance reporter for El Diario La Estrella, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Spanish-language daily newspaper; Latin Trade Magazine in Miami; HOY newspapers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles; and La Republica in Lima. In addition, Castillo is the founder of Atlanta Latino Newspaper, a bilingual weekly.

Castillo's connection to UNT began when he met Dr. Roberto Calderón, associate professor of history and director of the Department of History's Mexican-American studies minor. He interviewed Calderón for a story about the need to archive the history of Mexican Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and had also photographed him at the immigration reform protests.

Castillo said Calderón provided him with information to donate his photographs to the UNT Archives.

"EFE has only published 5 percent of the photos I've taken. I thought, ‘What good is it going to do for me to hold onto a file of unpublished photos?'" Castillo said.

Calderón said he hopes the Castillo collection will lead to UNT establishing a full archive of Mexican-American and Latino history. He notes that the collection is the largest collection of photographs depicting the history of Mexicans and Latinos in this region that was donated to a public or private university in the Metroplex.

"The gifting of a photographic collection of this size and significance is unprecedented in our region, and we hope José's wonderful archival gift sets the example that many others may follow," he said.

Michelle Mears, UNT archivist, said the Castillo collection is the first entirely digital photo collection the Archives has received.

"Most people think historical events happened a long time ago, but the protest marches that happened last spring were definitely historical events," she said. "We could see the photographs were going to be of general interest, so we decided to include them on the portal so they could be used by as many people as possible, including schoolchildren."

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108