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Papers of Latino Activist and Politician, Nelson Merced, Available for Research

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Archives and Special Collections Department
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(617) 373-2351
Archives and Special Collections

Papers of Latino Activist and Politician, Nelson Merced, Available for Research

Nelson Merced (far right) and campaign worker (center) speaking with a voter about Merced's candidacy for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, ca. 1988. Photo: © 1988 DON WEST.

The historical papers of Nelson Merced, the first Latino member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, are now open for research. A guide to the collection is available online at:

Nelson Merced was born to Puerto Rican immigrant parents in New York in 1948 and moved back and forth with his family several times before joining the United States Navy in 1965. After leaving the Navy, he lived in Puerto Rico with his parents and was active in the squatters' rights movement in San Juan. Returning to the United States in 1971, Merced came to Massachusetts in 1976. He worked for the Boston Department of Public Welfare, did graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and took the position of the director of La Alianza Hispana in 1981. In 1988, he was the first Latino elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He held this position until 1992, running a successful re-election campaign in 1990. In 1994, Merced took a position as the CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción just prior to the organization's proposed merger with the Escuelita Agueybana Day Care Center. The merger never took place and, in 1996, Merced left the organization. In 2005, Merced took a position as the Director of National Initiatives and Applied Research with NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit sponsored by Congress.

The papers date from 1966-2002 and document Merced's campaigns as well as his activity in the State House. The focus of the collection is his work as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, including his involvement with organizations like the Massachusetts English Plus Coalition, the Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus, and the Mauricio Gaston Institute. During his time in the House, Merced was active in the campaign to promote and protect bilingual education in Massachusetts as well as working for immigrants' rights and the reform of the Boston Public Schools. The collection includes extensive correspondence files as well as subject files, voting records, legislative and publicity material, newsletters, and reports.

The Nelson Merced collection is open for research Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., in the Northeastern University Libraries Archives and Special Collections Department, 92 Snell Library, Boston, Massachusetts. For a list of the Department's special collections, see:

Archival Collections