The addition of materials from Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) has opened a major research resource for the community at the Joint Archives of Holland, based at Hope College.

LAUP is a human service organization that provides advocacy for Hispanics in the greater Holland area. Its origins stretch back 40 years.

"If you're working in the research of Latino support groups in West Michigan, this is the collection you want to look for," said Geoffrey Reynolds, director of the Joint Archives.

The collection opened with a reception at the archives on Friday, Sept. 24. The event included remarks by Alfredo Gonzales, associate provost at Hope; Dr. James Bultman, president of Hope; and Lupita Reyes, who is chairperson of LAUP. It was scheduled in conjunction with national Hispanic Heritage Month and to precede the third annual "Hispanic Leadership Conference" that took place in Holland the next day.

The collection will be available to researchers at the college and in the community alike. As a resource for learning and understanding, Reyes said, the materials can assist in improving "the quality of life not only for Latinos in this community, but for the entire community."

LAUP was created in 1974 from three organizations: Bilingual-Bicultural Awareness Committee, Latin American Society and LaRaza Unida. The Latin American Society was the oldest of the three, having developed out of the "Alegria Latina" radio program that began on WHTC in 1964. LAUP reorganized in 2002 from a membership organization to a board-supervised human service agency.

LAUP's emphases include education, political and community involvement, cultural activities, hiring of minorities in government agencies and the private sector, housing, senior citizens programs and youth programs.

"We are about empowering Latinos in this community and other communities," said Lupita Reyes, who is chairperson of LAUP and has been with the organization since it began. "As long as they stand on the outside and do not have the tools to succeed, they will not become full partners and contributing partners to the community."

The collection ranges from material on events like the annual Fiesta celebration sponsored by LAUP, to information on LAUP's relations with community organizations and governments, to records of meetings, to correspondence, to a collection of more than 150 photographs. The materials cover from 1974 to 2003.

The Joint Archives of Holland houses the written and photographic archival collections of Hope College, Western Theological Seminary and other organizations that contract for archival services. Based at the college, the archives was established in 1988.

The Joint Archives is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., although the archives has closed through Sunday, Oct. 10, while it relocates from the Van Wylen Library to new quarters at the Theil Research Center at 9 E. 10th St.