Juana Beatriz Gutiérrez co-founded the Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA) with several other women and a priest, Monsignor John Moretta. After co-founding MELA, she formed MELA-SI (Santa Isabel), becoming the president of that organization. Both groups worked to keep their communities and families safe by assisting others, organizing protests, and raising awareness within the community. Gutiérrez had nine children, all of whom assisted with MELA projects. She has received awards for her work within the community and today MELA is a well-known grassroots organization.
The records of the Mothers of East Los Angeles consist primarily of correspondence to and from Mothers of East Lost Angeles members, as well as newspaper clippings regarding the Mothers during their activities. It also contains flyers, magazine articles and certificates for achievements of MELA.
The Juana Beatriz Gutiérrez Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA) Collection consists primarily of correspondence to and from Mothers of East Lost Angeles members, as well as newspaper clippings regarding the Mothers during their activities. It also contains flyers, magazine articles and certificates for achievements of MELA. The collection is arranged in four series: Administrative Records (1984-2002), Community Activism (1978-2004), and General Correspondence and Enclosures (1985-2004), and Exhibition Materials (1987-2002).
Series I, Administrative Records, contains administrative information about MELA, consisting of flyers, summaries, statements, as well as calendars and newsletters distributed by MELA. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series II, Community Activism, documents many of the events coordinated by MELA and include materials such as correspondence, flyers, and newspaper clippings. It is divided into fifteen subseries: Education - Scholarships (1994-2002), Education - General (1987-2002), Environment - Ecology (1992-2003), Environmental Earth Fairs and Community Clean Up Programs (1993-2003), Environmental - Incinerators and Toxics (1988-2000), Environmental - Gas and Energy (1995-2002), Environmental - Air and Water (1987-2000), Environmental - General (1990-2004), Health - Lead (1993-2000), Health - General (1994-2002), Prisons (1983-1992), Political (1984-2004), Transportation (1991-2000), Labor (1990-2002), and General Projects (1987-2003). The materials are arranged chronologically.
Series III, General Correspondence and Enclosures, contains correspondence to and from MELA and/ or Juana Gutiérrez. This series also contains newspaper clippings and other enclosures about MELA and their achievements. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series IV, Exhibition Materials, includes items from previous gallery exhibits which highlight the history and accomplishments of MELA.