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Finding Aid to the Nicaragua Information Center Records, 1980-1991
BANC MSS 92/807 cz  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Nicaragua Information Center Records,
    Date: 1980-1991
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 92/807 cz
    Collector: Nicaragua Information Center
    Extent: Number of containers: 20 cartons, 1 oversize box Linear feet: 25.3
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and Spanish

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Manuscripts Division. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nicaragua Information Center records, BANC MSS 92/807 cz, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • Selected printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Records of the Nicaragua Information Center were given to The Bancroft Library on October 12, 1992 by Rick Lewis.

    Organizational History

    Between 1980 and 1991, the Nicaragua Information Center played a leading role in coordinating activities in support of the Sandinista government and the people of Nicaragua and in opposing the policies of the United States government, which supported the Contra insurgency. During the 1980s, Nicaragua support work was a key focus of progressive political activity in the Bay Area and throughout the United States.
    The Nicaragua Information Center began as a student organization at the University of California, Berkeley. The organization moved off campus in 1981, and eventually grew large enough to support a full-time paid staff of five, in addition to many volunteers. NIC published Nicaraguan Perspectives, an important national magazine on Nicaragua between 1980 and 1991. NIC also formed the Berkeley-Leon Sister City Association in 1985.
    The Center provided alternative information about Nicaragua, coordinated opposition to U.S. policy in the Bay Area and much of the west, and played an active role both in raising material support for Nicaragua and facilitating travel by individuals to and from Nicaragua. In addition, the Nicaragua Information Center served as the Pacific Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Nicaragua Network from 1983 through 1992. In this role, NIC played an influential role in developing and coordinating national policy for the movement in support of the Sandinista regime. This included anti-Contra aid agitation and person-to-person exchanges. Through delegations and work brigades, the Center helped hundreds of people travel to Nicaragua. Working with various coalitions, the Nicaragua Information Center played a central role in the political struggle against aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and raising material support for Nicaragua.
    The elections in Nicaragua in 1990 brought about a transfer of power from the Sandinistas to a more conservative regime. This shift had a dramatic impact on the Nicaragua support movement, severely reducing financial support for organizations such as the Nicaragua Information Center which had been identified with the Sandinista movement. In June 1991, the Nicaragua Information Center closed its doors. While NIC continued to operate on a reduced level after this date, its lack of office space and funding have made its resources unavailable to the public.


    Excerpted from a background piece by Rick Lewis

    Scope and Content

    The records of the Nicaragua Information Center span the decade of its operation, beginning in 1980 through its closure in 1991. They consist primarily of NIC's operational, working files, including information about other organizations and political events of the decade, and its resource library, which was available for public use.
    The Nicaragua Information Center strove to collect and make available to the public information about Nicaragua by monitoring both the mainstream media and less accessible, alternative sources of information, including publications from Nicaragua and other countries. The Center hoped to empower activists interested in supporting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua by providing access to facts and perspectives on the situation in that country which could be used to counter the negative picture painted by the U.S. government and its Contra allies. The focal point of the Center's outreach to the public was the Clippings File, organized by subject. Since the emphasis was upon facilitating quick access to information, thereby fostering effective action, inconsistency and redundancy were acceptable, and even desirable, in the organization of the Center's files and Library.
    With only a small paid staff and heavy reliance on volunteer activists, as well as changing personnel and an increasingly broad scope of responsibility, changes in filing practices and strategies are obvious throughout. The organization of the collection attempts to preserve the internal structure of the Center's files. Unfiled documents, as well as documents collected by individuals active at the Center but organized outside the Center's own filing system have been integrated, with the ideal of preserving the integrity of that structure whenever possible. Duplicate materials have been minimized, although information about a given topic or event will often be found in more than one location within the collection.
    Series 1 of the Nicaragua Information Center's files was organized in congruence with the Center's committee structure. Since many activities of the Center were not generated by standing committees, but rather by ad hoc events committees, or through the Coordinating Committee, there is only a relatively small amount of material found here. More information about activities and events NIC coordinated or in which its members participated is filed in an Events section, which forms Series 2.
    NIC was governed by its coordinator, other paid staff, and its coordinating committee. The files of these administrative entities form the hub of Series 3: Internal Organization. Included here are office manuals, orientation information and other reference works including speeches, analytical papers and correspondence with other organizations, as well as records of the coordinator and coordinating committee. The dominance of the central administrative structure in the Center's existence is evident in the expansion of these files in preference to Events and Other Organizations files. During the early years, these records reflect the ongoing effort to keep abreast of changes in U.C. Berkeley campus regulations, and to supply documentation to justify NIC's status as a student organization. Fundraising, another major focus, is amply documented, underscoring the Center's energetic pursuit of foundation grants.
    Series 4: Other Organizations, consists of printed material and correspondence from many organizations involved both in Latin America support work and a wide variety of other political and social causes. The central importance of the Nicaraguan issue to the political left in the United States led to its inclusion with many other causes in broad coalition approaches. The Nicaragua Information Center was intersted in staying informed about and involved with other causes and organizatrions on the political left; activists around other issues were eager to link their causes to the prominent struggle being waged in defense of the Nicaraguan Revolution.
    Finally, Series 5: Clippings File, a collection of articles, pamphlets, and other miscellaneous publications, formed the heart of the Library that the Nicaragua Information Center maintained for the use of activists and scholars. Its holdings, in both English and Spanish, provided a concentration of material on many aspects of Central American economics, culture, history, and politics, including many obscure pamphlets and other documents from Niaragua. In addition, there are many issues of Nicaraguan newspapers, some magazines, and a large number of unsorted clippings. Although many of the clippings are taken from more obscure newspapers and journals, the Center regularly clipped from the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, San Jose Mercury News, Bay Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, and the major national news magazines. Insofar as was possible, unsorted materials have been integrated into the collection in proximity to material with related subject matter.