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Frank I. Sanchez Papers

Identifier: MSS-612-BC

Scope and Content

The Frank Sanchez Papers contain 13 alphabetically-arranged subject series, plus 4 series based on format of materials (newspapers, oversize, etc.). Researchers should check the format-based series for material relating to the various subject series. The largest series in the papers is "Community Organizing, Strategic Planning" which includes files for numerous organizations and foundations. "Political Activism" is also a significant series, containing most of the political redistricting materials of Sanchez v. King and later lawsuits. Additional documents on these cases can be found in the "Legal Services" series. The Sanchez Papers contain a wide range of documents, including personal notes and correspondence, organizational agendas, memoranda, organizational letters, flyers, brochures, newspaper clippings, newsletters, voting information, court documents, and numerous periodicals, newspapers, and published materials, as well as a folder of photographs.

This is the first collection to be processed for the Grassroots Activism Project (GAP) at the Center for Southwest Research, with special funding by UNM's Center for Regional Studies.

Series I, Civil Rights, consists of materials of a general nature related to issues of equal opportunity and race, along with organizational brochures, documentation, newspaper clippings and flyers describing local and national incidents of police brutality and discrimination against Mexican-Americans and other minorities.

Series II, Community Organizing, Strategic Planning, is the largest series in the collection and consists of letters, flyers, brochures, and reports from local and national organizations covering the depth and range of Frank Sanchez' grassroots involvement. Materials from foundations and organizations such as the Needmor Fund, the Youth Project, Campaign for Human Development, the Home Education Livelihood Program (HELP), National Network of Grantmakers (NNG), Volunteers in Services to America (VISTA), Re-Visioning New Mexico, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP) are included in this series.

Series III, Correspondence/ Notes, contains handwritten notes kept by Frank Sanchez as well as personal correspondence about mixed topics in the series such as community organization, education, and politics and government which, due to their interrelated content, were not separated into other series.

Series IV, Economic Justice, contains primarily material related to local and national grassroots participation in talks with the Mexican government and Mexican labor leaders as part of negotiations preceding the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Government reports and publications from Mexico's political parties as well as Mexican labor organizations are found in this series.

Series V, Education/School Reform, includes educational materials on bilingual and multicultural education, as well as court decisions, legal correspondence, and school board election materials related to the Roswell Independent School District. The series also contains letters and agendas about local and national organizations involved in issues of educational equalization of Mexican Americans in Portales, as well as Roswell.

Series VI, Energy/ Environmental Justice, contains brochures, letters and reports mostly relating to the construction of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico. General information about national efforts to protect the environment can also be found here.

Series VII, Health Care, contains letters and reports about the state of rural health care and community health services in New Mexico. Brochures and letters from local health care organizations such as the Chaves County Primary Health Care Planning Committee, and clinics, such as La Casa de Buena Salud, are contained in this series. Information about President Clinton's Health Care Reform proposal also forms part of this series.

Series VIII, Immigrant Rights, contains letters and petitions from local and national organizations regarding the 1980s campaign against immigration reform. The series also contains reports and correspondence against the construction of an "Alien Detention Center" in southern New Mexico.

Series IX, Labor Organizing, contains a wide rage of topics in the form of newspaper clippings, flyers, brochures and letters related to the Artesia strike, agricultural laborers and the United Farmworkers including articles about Cesar Chavez' visit to New Mexico, and the campaign against the Right to Work movement.

Series X, Land and Water Rights, contains correspondence and flyers from the Alianza Federal de las Mercedes and other documents from the Tonantzin Land Institute related to the protection of Hispano and Native American land and water rights in New Mexico and other parts of the nation.

Series XI, Legal Services, contains correspondence and court cases related to election districts discrimination, educational law and legislation, and the legal needs of rural communities. The series includes letters from organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and Southern New Mexico Legal Services.

Series XII, Political Activism, the second largest series in the collection contains correspondence, flyers, voting records, and brochures related to local election district cases, most importantly the documents related to the landmark redistricting case of Sanchez v. King including the decisive U.S. district court three judge ruling. The series also includes materials regarding the 1980s Central American political crisis.

Series XIII, Religion and Social Justice, contains foundation reports and correspondence mostly from United Ministries in Higher Education. There are also letters and information about grassroots support from local New Mexican priests and parishes.

Series XIV, Newspapers and Periodicals, is Sanchez' collection of primarily Chicano newspapers from New Mexico and around the U.S., as well as other community newspapers from the U.S. and other countries. It also includes a collection of magazines and other periodicals primarily covering topics represented in the subject series of this collection. A wide array of newsletters from community organizations can be found within their corresponding subject series.

Series XV, Memorabilia, contains a small amount of artifactual material, including bumper stickers and ephemera.

Series XVI, Oversize, is made up of oversize materials from the various subject series, shelved with the collection.

Series XVII, Maps & Posters, contains materials from the various subject series including redistricting maps.

Some materials in this collection are in Spanish.

An addition to the collection was processed in May 2001. The series in this addition parallel the original collection and overlap in date and subject matter. Series XVIII, Audiovisual, was inserted as a new series to reflect new materials acquired with the addition. This series contains audiotapes and videos from the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, El Teatro de la Esperanza, and the Shalan Foundation. It also includes an audiovisual kit which contains records and teaching manuals on the history of Mexican Americans.

An addition processed in February 2015 consists primarily of materials relating to redistricting in NM, 2001-2002.


  • 1951-2008 (bulk 1970-1996)


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Frank Ismael Sanchez built a career as one of New Mexico's most active grassroots community organizers through his work with a wide range of local, regional, and national organizations. Born in Roswell, New Mexico, on July 16, 1950, he has resided in that city all his life, making Southeastern New Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. the focus of his organizational activities. It was in Roswell, through his father's labor organizing activities as a construction worker, that Sanchez learned the importance and impact of grassroots organizing. These experiences influenced his goals to work against the various racist and discriminatory practices affecting Mexican-Americans in this region. He obtained a bachelor's degree from the Colegio Tlatelolco in Colorado where he majored in Political Science and Education. He also attended Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales, where he was a co-founder of the Association to Help Raza Advance (AHORA), a Chicano student organization whose agenda supported the development and incorporation of a culturally relevant Mexican-American curriculum along with the recruitment of minority students at ENMU. AHORA's goals, along with those of Sanchez', expanded out of this academic context to incorporate educational reforms at the community level.

Community based activities led Sanchez to organize and become a co-founder of the Chicano Youth Association, circa 1969. This organization was successful in confronting discriminatory educational practices in the Portales, New Mexico school district. The accomplishments of the Chicano Youth Association are exemplified by the landmark case, Serna v. Portales Schools, which set a national precedent for the institutionalization of bilingual education.

From these local beginnings Sanchez' work expanded to incorporate numerous issues affecting the Mexican-American populations of the Southwest. For a period of four years during the 1970s, he began his involvement in community organizing, welfare rights initiatives, community centers, and Chicano theater as Southeastern New Mexico's Regional Supervisor for Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA). Following VISTA, Sanchez was the Educational Coordinator for the Home Education Livelihood Program (HELP) in Southeastern New Mexico. Through HELP Sanchez continued to pursue his interests in educational issues by supporting curriculum development programs for migrant and bilingual children. During this period he co-founded El Centro de la Familia (1973) a multi-issue community organization and center. Subsequent work incorporated labor, health, and political issues affecting Mexican-Americans, including a year of community rights organizing for the Valle del Sol Housing Corporation, and four years directing the activities of five rural community centers established by the Concilio Campesino del Sureste (Southeastern New Mexico Farmworker Council). This work involved him directly with issues and organizations affecting migrant workers, including the United Farm Workers. Sanchez also worked for the Roswell Job Corp and the Joy Senior Citizens Center during this period.

During the 1980s, Frank Sanchez became active in organizing around issues concerning the representation and participation of Mexican-Americans in politics. As co-founder of Southern New Mexico Legal Services in 1976, he was the only non-lawyer board chairperson of a legal services organization in the country during this period. In this capacity, he began to work against the state's system of gerrymandering, bringing suit against the state of New Mexico (1982) challenging the legislative redistricting law in coalition with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP). This lawsuit, Sanchez v. King, marked the first time that the 1982 Voting Rights Act was used in this manner in New Mexico. The effort involved a diverse coalition of local constituencies contending the political disenfranchisement of Mexican-Americans in the southern and Native Americans in the northern regions of the state. Sanchez went on to spearhead a series of voting rights lawsuits throughout the 1980s and 1990s which successfully challenged legislative, school board, city council, county commission, judicial, and other voting districts in New Mexico. Many of Southeastern New Mexico's first Mexican-American elected officials were voted into office at high levels of local government after this, including State Legislator Barbara Perea Casey, Mario Torres, and Vicente Gallegos.

Simultaneous to these political efforts, Sanchez furthered his community organizing interests through national foundations. Beginning with his work for the Youth Project (founded by the Center for Community Change and later known as Partnership for Democracy during the 1990s) his ten year tenure with this foundation covered the six states of the southwest providing grants and technical assistance to a wide range of community organizations. Later on, Frank Sanchez became the Field Representative for the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP) for two years, followed by a position as the Program Director of The Rural Initiative for the New Mexico Community Foundation, 1995-1997. In 1997 he began his current position as the Roswell based Program Officer for the Needmor Fund, a family foundation based in Boulder, Colorado. Sanchez has also been active in numerous boards and committees for organizations such as: the Multicultural Alliance, the Chaves County Primary Health Care Center, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, the Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, and the New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund. He has served as a consultant for a number of organizations and foundations including the New Mexico Conference of Churches, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, as well as the Woods Fund of Chicago.

Frank Sanchez' extensive and prolific career earned him numerous recognitions and awards. His redistricting achievements culminated in a Lifetime Achievement Award from New Mexico's de Colores Hispanic Culture Festival. Other awards include: Don for 1995 from the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce; the New Mexico Solidarity Award from Re-Visioning New Mexico; and the Farewell Award from the Shalan Foundation for social and economic justice.


94 boxes (90 cu. ft.) + 2 oversize folders

Related Archival Material

Underground Newspaper Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Francisco E. Martínez Papers Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Toney Anaya Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Bruce Trigg Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Tonantzin Land Institute Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Joel Nossoff Chicano Movement Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. League of United Latin American Citizens, Council #8003, Silver City, N.M. Records Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Ray Armenta League of United Latin American Citizens papers Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Connie Martinez League of United Latin American Citizens papers Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Joseph W. Trujillo League of United Latin American Citizens papers Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Refugia Castillo League of United Latin American Citizens papers Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Maximo Martinez League of United Latin American Citizens papers Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. League of United Latin American Citizens, Council #8026/206, Carlsbad, N.M. Records. Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Original Beta tape, reel to reels and VHS tapes stored in B3.

Issues of El Papel were removed from collection for cataloguing into CSWR general collection, April 2013.

Processing Information

Most recent addition processed February 2015.

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed material, 98 boxes, B3-8B and along north wall. Added December and March 2019. Donor's contents notes included on each box. Boxes and large bins are flimsy and must be reviewed by archivist before being pulled.
Finding Aid of the Frank I. Sanchez Papers, 1951-2008
Edited Full Draft
Processed by Mariela Nuñez-Janes, Michele Anaya, Juan Buriel and Pat Padilla
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131