The University of Arizona

Special Collections Acquires New Archives

By Gabrielle Sykes-Casavant, UA Libraries | October 21, 2011

UA Special Collections has acquired the archives of Humane Borders, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization.

The extensive Humane Borders collection documents the last decade of border issues in Arizona and provides researchers and students an opportunity to examine the roles of faith-based groups and other social welfare organizations in providing hands-on humanitarian assistance to migrants, as well as the roles of those organizations in the greater immigration debate.
The extensive Humane Borders collection documents the last decade of border issues in Arizona and provides researchers and students an opportunity to examine the roles of faith-based groups and other social welfare organizations in providing hands-on humanitarian assistance to migrants, as well as the roles of those organizations in the greater immigration debate.

Special Collections at the University of Arizona has recently acquired the Humane Borders "Fronteras Compasivas" archive, an important addition to the University's extensive Southwest and Borderlands holdings.

Humane Borders, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization, works in collaboration with more than 60 institutions, including churches, human rights organizations, corporate sponsors and legal advocacy groups, to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The organization also encourages the creation of public policies toward a non-militarized border with legalized work opportunities for migrants in the U.S. and legitimate economic opportunities in migrants' countries of origin.

The Humane Borders collection is available to the public upon request. Related information can be found in the Rev. Robin Hoover collection, also recently acquired by the University Libraries.

Founded in June 2000 with the specific intention of trying to minimize migrant deaths in the desert, Humane Borders maintains a number of water stations dispersed throughout the Arizona/Mexico border region, particularly in areas of high migrant traffic.

Since the organization's founding, more than 15,000 volunteers from around the world have come to Arizona to donate their time and effort to this cause.

Working with the U.S. Border Patrol, the Pima County Medical Examiner and the Mexican Consulate, Humane Borders has also developed a detailed map of the borderlands region depicting the GPS location of every migrant discovered to have died in southern Arizona while crossing the desert.

"It's visually stunning," said Rev. Robin Hoover, founder and President Emeritus of Humane Borders.

Begun in 2001 and showing the sites of migrant deaths through 2009, the map has become a useful tool in the organization's mission to dispense water, helping determine which areas are most traveled, and raising the awareness of local land managers and owners.

"Many migrant trails pass through public lands, and the organization can take this map to the people in charge, and say, 'Look, you've had this number of deaths here. We've got the water to prevent more. Let's work together,'" Hoover said. 

The archive includes a vast collection of media coverage of border issues, including newspaper clippings, video news clips and a number of recorded interviews, as well as a series of large color maps, reports on water stations, migrant rights, and the recent debates surrounding state legislation. 

The collection also contains notes from various supporters, "hate mail" sent to Humane Borders, and more than 1,000 photographs as well as a decade's worth of administrative files detailing the day-to-day operations of the organization.

The archive will become part of Special Collections' holdings, which offers students studying history, journalism, Latin American studies and other disciplines the opportunity to access important historical documents that chronicle the development of Arizona, Sonora and the greater Southwest.

Hoover and his wife, Sue Goodman, has assembled a vast archive of documents pertaining to border issues and migrant rights from the last decade.

"The Humane Borders archive reveals a particular window of American history," Hoover said.

In giving the archive to the UA, Hoover hopes to foster a greater understanding of the political and social pressures behind today's immigration debate. Another hopes is that the younger generation will come to "understand the roles of faith-based groups working on border issues," he said.

"Fifty years from now, when people come back to Arizona, it won't be to see the desert," said Hoover, who is currently completing a book on social theology along the U.S. southwest border. "It will be because this was their Ellis Island. This history needs to be preserved."

Contacts

Chrystal Carpenter

UA Special Collections

520-471-7342

carpenterc@u.library.arizona.edu


Gabrielle Sykes-Casavant

UA Libraries

520-307-0877

sykes-casavantg@u.library.arizona.edu