Social media, especially Instagram, is a way for internet denizens to stay in the know. On the photo-sharing app, ‘grammers can get briefs on local, national and international news. Foodies can discover recently opened restaurants. The celeb-obsessed can see what their fave entertainers are up to in real time. Beauty and fashion lovers can stay current on the latest trends. Activists learn where the next protest will take place. And everyone gets a little laugh between all the updates with a hilarious meme. But while the app’s instant camera and live videos keep users up to speed on all things today, some users are also turning to the platform to memorialize disregarded histories.
Sprinkled throughout Instagram are digital archives of decades, neighborhoods, and subcultures that remind users of the good ol’ days and inform younger ‘grammers of former times they might not learn about in textbooks. 90s.era, for example, sparks nostalgia among its more than 460,000 followers each time it drops new photos and videos of the TV shows, movies, songs, album covers, entertainers, and commercials that made up the decade. Lesbian Herstory Archives’ posts about queer women as well as vintage texts, articles, pins, garments, and posters that educate followers of the movement’s everyday heroines and struggles. While The Art of Shade, an archive of casual celebrity disses, just entertains.
Among the Instagram repositories are several remembering the cultural and regional histories of Latinxs, from our contribution to music and fashion to our long-time presence in neighborhoods that are now experiencing gentrification. Here, 10 Instagram accounts archiving Latinx and Latin American history that you should be following.
Created on April 3, the Archivo De La Memoria Trans is an Instagram account remembering trans Latinas of years past. According to the page’s founder, María Belen Correa, its goal is to protect, construct and reclaim the trans memory. Currently, it features more than 40 photos taken from the 1940s to the 90s. Images include a beautiful collage of an Argentine trans woman, a colorful and joyous group shot of trans mexicanas, women holding anti-trans violence protest signs, and several scans of trans women happily embracing male partners. But most of the shots show the women modeling, in sexy lingerie, charming gowns, or stylish ensembles that could still be found on the pages of fashion magazines.
Veteranas and Rucas is one of the earliest accounts documenting Latinx history. Launched in 2015 by Guadalupe Rosales, it’s described as a “throwback honoring the women raised in SoCal & the preservation of our culture.” More than 132,000 followers tap through the account, admiring black and white images from the 20s and 50s as well colorful scans taking us from the 70s to the 90s.
The photos and videos range from mall shots to wedding photography to familiar girl gang photos – all showcasing the fierce style and attitude of Latinas from Southern California, traits that the photos prove remain intact throughout each generation. Rosales, an East Los Angeles native, started the account while living in New York as a way to create space for her community to reconnect and reminisce. While it began with personal photos of herself and her crew, she now also takes submissions from followers.
Rosales, a clear admirer of all things SoCal Latinx culture, is also the woman behind Map Pointz Project, an Instagram archive of the party crew/rave scene coming out of Southern California in the 90s. While not as popular as Veteranas and Rucas, with close to 18,000 followers, the account is still a major hit. Its nostalgic posts include several vibrant scans of old party fliers, tickets, and wristbands. But it’s also not short on fly brown girl crews, with members often donning lots of red lipstick, slicked hair, black fishnets, and lots of leather. Sprinkled along the familiar house party poses are also videos of DJs spinning classic 90s tracks and people dancing.
Spanishharlem_1975 uses photography to document the history of East Harlem, a historically predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York City that remains largely Latinx but faces gentrification.
“My peoples stand up, I’m bringing y’all classics,” writes the founder in the account’s description, and they do. The account, which launched in 2014, features quintessential scenes from El Barrio: old Latino men playing dominos on the sidewalk, teens using streets as their baseball field and children dripping in water from fire hydrants. The pictures also highlight former shops that no longer exist, subways that have since been remodeled, and street art that has survived over the years.
In Austin, Texas, another city resisting gentrification, ATX Barrio Archive is documenting historically POC barrios to preserve and celebrate their cultural heritage. The account, which started in 2016, posts old news clips and articles of people and moments, including a piece from 1916 on the growing number of Mexican tenants and a newspaper story on a Latino victim of a school shooting in 1967, as well as advertisements for Tejano restaurants, old Selena memorabilia, classic tunes and immigration rights protests. But ATX Barrio Archive doesn’t just publish images of olden times. Alongside scans of dated IDs and yearbook photos are present-day shots of black and brown Texans organizing in Austin and repping their cultures proudly.
Founded in 2013, the Hip-Hop Photo Museum aims to preserve the genre’s cultural purpose with photography capturing the emotion and the resistance that existed during its birth. The account’s images aim to reintroduce the historical and social contexts of hip-hop that has been removed as the genre, and culture, has become commercialized. Alongside African Americans and West Indians, Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans, helped create hip hop, and, as such, the Hip-Hop Photo Museum includes several images of Boricua breakdancers, street artists, emcees, DJs, poets and street youth who were a part of that culture-making.
While The Brazilian Curator is a creative content marketing studio, its account features photos and videos of people, music, art and moments important to Brazilian history. It introduces followers to national icons like Caetano Veloso (a composer, singer, guitarist, writer and political activist) as well as Cartola (a singer, composer and poet who helped birth and popularize samba) and shares images of little-known pop culture moments, like when Muhammad Ali hugged Brazilian soccer player Pelé at his goodbye match in 1977 and said, “My friend. Now there are two of the greatest.” Alongside these older images and stories are current photos and videos of Brazilian art and life.
Rock Archivo de LÁ is a digital archive of the “rock en español” scene in Los Angeles. The goal of the account’s creator, Jorge N. Leal, is to understand how and why Chicanos and Latinos in the area become involved in the culture. For his research, he posts photos of local “rock en ñ” event posters, concert tickets, CDs, album covers, punk art, and band tees. He also gathers images and videos of artists and bands performing, recording and hanging out. While Leal’s focus is research, his photos, which he posts regularly, are very nostalgic, and, as he jokes, could totally inspire an old crew to get their band back together.
Firme Hinas is a digital archive dedicated to the Firme Hinas Party Crew, which was established in Los Angeles in 1994. The account features hundreds of photos of Latina friends kicking it at the beach, cruising in lowriders, posing for professional 90s mall photos, and shaking their asses at packed house parties. The outfits, from denim mini skirts and halter tops to sunflower print dresses and backless heels, as well the makeup, mostly black-winged eyeliner and bold red lips, along with the crunchy curls, scrunchies and big hoops, will totally be familiar to every 90s Latina party girl.
Vintage Latinas is an Instagram archive of “the badass chingonas of our families past.” Started in December of 2016, the creator, who is Mexican-Nicaraguan, posts black and white images of the women in her own family. Some are laughing with friends and relatives, while others are giving a fierce pose for the camera. The scenes range from beaches, vintage cars and old bridges in Mexico to dressing up in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Currently including scans of old photographs and passports, the account encourages followers to submit their own vintage images of the elder Latinas in their lives.