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Bea González Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: Ryan Lynch, OHA
Date: Jan 2009

Biographical History

Bethaida Carmen "Bea" González (1954- ) was the first Latina elected to the Syracuse (New York) School Board (1991) and Common Council (2001), and was a candidate for mayor of Syracuse in 2009.

Bea González was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico in 1954 but moved with her family to central New York when she was three years old. For nearly a decade, her migrant farmworker parents moved frequently; González estimates that she attended thirteen elementary schools. By the time she reached middle school, González’s father entered a construction laborers’ union and the family settled permanently in Syracuse. The first member of her family to receive a high school diploma, she received her B.A. in political science and Latin American studies from SUNY Binghamton and an MPA from Syracuse University. In 1984, González began working for Syracuse University as an academic advisor; since then, she has held various positions in the university’s administration including interim dean of the college (2004-2007) and dean of the college (2007-present).

Bea González became active in community and Latino politics in the 1980s; by the early 1990s, education had also become a priority. She participated in local committees and wards and was a member of the Association of Neighbors for Latino Advancement (ANCLA), Spanish Action League, and Latinos Concerned for Latino Advancement. In 1990, González served on the mayor’s Latino Task Force and the Minority Affairs Advisory Council for the city of Syracuse. More recently, she co-founded the Onondaga Latino Caucus.

In early 1991, Bea González's service on the mayor's Latino Task Force drew the attention of Mayor Thomas Young, who nominated González to the school board after the board’s president resigned. The first Hispanic to hold a citywide position, González was elected to the board later that year, becoming the first Latina elected to a citywide office in Syracuse. González served as a commissioner of education (school board member) until 1994, when she decided to take a hiatus from politics to focus on raising her son. She reentered politics in July 2001 when she was selected to fill the vacant position of Syracuse Common Council president, becoming the first Latina to serve on the Common Council. After beating her opponent in a democratic primary, González narrowly won a four-year term as council president in November 2001. She was reelected to her second and final term in 2005. In January 2009, she announced her candidacy for mayor of Syracuse.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Bea González Papers consist primarily of materials from her 1991, 2001, and 2005 campaigns for Syracuse school board and Common Council president in addition to some of the many awards and honors that González has received in recent years. The campaign materials include correspondence, clippings, campaign postcards, donor lists, invitations, and endorsement materials in addition to programs, certificates, correspondence, and photos from events honoring González.

The collection includes programs from events where González spoke, and news clippings or complete publications where González is mentioned. Among the materials from other political campaigns are postcards, a letter from Senator Edward Kennedy thanking González for her assistance at a fundraiser for John Kerry, and correspondence, photos, and other memorabilia from the New York Electoral College of which González was a member in 2004 and 2008.

There are also a few personal items relating to Bea González and her family. Among them is a scrapbook containing school certificates, clippings, graded papers, a transcript, and other materials relating to Bea González and her siblings, Juan Jr., Lillian, Mary, Nereida, and Christine. Of interest are four 8x10 photos and one 5x7 photo that appear to depict Juan; a wedding photo that may picture González’s parents, Juan and Julia; and a certificate in Spanish, 1975, honoring Lillian for completion of the ninth grade bilingual program at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School in Syracuse, reflecting relatively early bilingual education in Syracuse.

Arrangement of the Collection

Collection is currently arranged alphabetically by subject and within that either chronologically or alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Onondaga Historical Association has several related collections:

Files of Latino Community Organizations and Individuals. Onondaga Historical Association 2006.122.
Records of ANCLA (Association of Neighbors for Latino Advancement) (Syracuse, NY). Onondaga Historical Association 2007.100.

Subject Headings


González, Bethaida.

Corporate Bodies

Syracuse (N.Y.). -- Common Council.
Syracuse University. -- Higher Education Opportunity Program.
Syracuse University. -- University College.


Families -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
Hispanic American women.
Hispanic Americans -- Education -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
Hispanic Americans -- Politics and government -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
Hispanic Americans -- Social life and customs -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.


Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Politics and government.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Programs (documents)
Sound recordings.


Civil servants.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Bea González Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Transfer from Onondaga Historical Association, 2009.

Table of Contents

Awards and honors





Printed materials