The William Noé Field Archives in Walsh Library at Seton Hall has been awarded a $9,400 grant from the New Jersey Catholic Historical Commission to process the Father Raúl Comensañas Papers.
Father Comensañas served as a priest in Union City and the Hudson County area, where he was active in serving the Cuban exile community. His advocacy work—including a run for the House of Representatives— led local groups to connect exiles with immigration resources and edit Spanish language community newspapers.
Beyond telling the story of an extraordinary man, this collection documents the history of the growing Hispanic community in the Archdiocese of Newark. The collection includes correspondence from Father Raúl to his congregants, newspapers Father Raúl edited documenting issues facing the Newark Cuban-American community, and materials from the Republican party advocating for Hispanic issues in the early 1980s.
The grant covers supplies to rehouse the collection in archival-grade folders and boxes that will preserve the collection for future generations, and provides funds to hire an archival assistant to help SHU staff organize and describe the collection to prepare it for historians and members of the community to explore.
The department hopes to make the collection available to the public by Summer 2021, and plans to make the finding aid for this collection the archives’ first bilingual finding aid, to make it equally available to Spanish-speaking researchers. The materials are approximately 50% Spanish-language, and 50% English, and the department has found a bilingual student archivist to work with the collection.
The archives gratefully acknowledges the New Jersey Catholic Historical Commission for its support of this important project, as well as the donor, Jo Welker for entrusting these materials to its care.