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Alvarado (Blanca) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • Biography
  • Scope and Contents

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Blanca Alvarado Papers
    creator: Alvarado, Blanca
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2014.07.21
    Physical Description: 10 boxes (11 linear feet)
    Date (inclusive): 1939-2011
    Abstract: This collection includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, administrative papers, photographs, awards, and other memorabilia that document the political and personal life of Blanca Alvarado during the years she served on the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.


    This collection is arranged in nine series: Series I. Personal Papers; Series II. City Council; Series III. Vice Mayor; Series IV. Board of Supervisors; Series V. Mexican American Political Association; Series VI. Mexican American Corporation and Plaza; Series VII. Awards and Achievements; Series VIII. State and Local History; and Series IX. Photos.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections and Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections and Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    Blanca Alvarado Papers, MSS-2014-07-21, San Jose State University Library, Special Collections & Archives

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Sarah Corona in Summer 2017.

    Related Materials

    South Bay Second Wave Feminist Oral History Project, MSS-2006-06-30

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Copies of audiovisual materials are on the SJSU Special Collections hard drive.


    Blanca Alvarado was born in 1931 in the small mining town of Cokedale, Colorado. Her interest in activism is rooted in her time as a youth observing her father’s participation in the coal miners union in Cokedale. Following the closure of the coal mine where Blanca’s father worked, her family of 14 moved to California and began working in the fields of Santa Clara. During this time Blanca attended San Jose High School and began her pursuit of community activism in Santa Clara and San Jose. As a high schooler, Blanca was a member of Club Tapatío and participated in community service through the club. Blanca then became acquainted with local radio host and activist, Jose J. Alvarado. Jose hosted the first Spanish-English bilingual radio show in Northern California at the KLOK radio station and used his platform to speak to his Latino listeners about social justice and other issues concerning the Latino community in the Bay Area. Blanca eventually hosted her own bilingual radio talk show addressing similar topics at KLOK called “Merienda Musical.” Activism continued to be a significant part of Blanca’s life and provided the foundations for her political career. She worked with Cesar Chavez on the organization and foundation of the Community Services Organization. Blanca worked on the Chicano Employment Committee and the Opportunities Industrial Center. In the mid-1970s, she worked with Viva Carter in efforts to promote Jimmy Carter and his campaign for the presidency. Blanca was also the president of the San Jose chapter as well as an officer at the state level of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). Blanca became well known as an activist and an advocate for her community. In 1980, Blanca was elected to be the first representative of District 5 in the San Jose City Council. She remained the representative for East San Jose until 1994. As a City Council member, Blanca fought for equal representation for the Chicano community in San Jose. She had numerous projects and focuses in this office. Major projects and central issues from her time in City Council include the revival of the Poco Way neighborhood, the installment of the Quetzalcoatl statue in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, the creation of the Mexican-American Community Services Agency (MACSA) Youth Center, arts, housing, and youth issues. During her time in City Council, she also worked to establish the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Corporation. Nine years into her career in City Council, Blanca became the first Latina Vice Mayor in San Jose and continued to serve two terms. In 1995, Blanca was appointed to take the vacant seat in the Board of Supervisors left by Zoe Lofgren and was elected to this position in 1996. Blanca spent the next 12 years as the representative for District 2, which is composed of Downtown San Jose, South San Jose, East San Jose, and parts of Willow Glen and Evergreen. In this office, Blanca continued her efforts to foster the arts in San Jose, advocate for youth and minorities, and fight for other social and environmental justice issues. Blanca retired from the Board of Supervisors in 2008.

    Scope and Contents

    The Blanca Alvarado Papers consist of a variety of materials relating to the political career, activism, and personal life of Blanca Alvarado and her family. The contents of this collection relate primarily to Blanca Alvarado’s 28 years spent in local government and her accomplishments from this time. In addition to political papers, this collection contains materials related to Blanca’s life before and after her time in government. This includes her early activism, the activities and life of her husband, Jose Alvarado, and the activism of their children. This collection also consists of materials relating to the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Corporation, which Blanca helped create, as well as materials relating to California and local history and events. Types of materials included in this collection are administrative papers, correspondence, newspaper clippings, political ephemera, awards, CDs, and photographs.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Santa Clara County (Calif.) – Board of Supervisors
    Mexican American women politicians -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Mexican Heritage Plaza (San Jose, Calif.)
    City council members -- California -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Mexican American Political Association (Calif.)
    Radio stations -- California -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Public art -- California -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Municipal officials and employees -- California -- San Jose (Calif.)
    Alvarado, Blanca