Documenting the Narratives of Puerto Rican Migration, 1945-1980

PRAC Director Aldo Lauria Santiago and Professor Ismael Garcia Colon (College of Staten Island & Graduate Center, CUNY) have been awarded a small grant for the organizing and digitizing documents related to migration at the Archivo General de Puerto Rico. The funding received from the US Latino Digital Humanities Center of Arte Publico Press will support 18-20 weeks of work recovering the stories and documentation of Puerto Rican emigration held at the AGPR.  With the support of AGPR Director Hilda Ayala and senior archivist Pedro Roig, the work will produce a publicly accessible digital archive that will be reproduced in three repositories and various guides and aides to the materials.  It will also help with the ongoing PRAC work of helping the AGPR identify and minimally catalog collections for public use.

Goals of the Proposed Work

We will place two paid interns for four to six months to process and digitize materials drawn from three collections held at the AGPR. These collections are known to contain extensive materials relating to the migration process between the World War II years and the 1980s including long letters written by migrants and their families to Puerto Rico government officials. These materials will include:

  • Requests and other correspondence relating to Puerto Rican migrant workers (including seasonal contract farm laborers) in the US held within the records of Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor
  • Reports and other data on the migration process produced by the Migration Division of Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor
  • Correspondence and other records relating to the internal discussions, debates, commissions, committees, and policies relating to migration produced by the Governors Office, the Labor Department, Fomento Economico, and other agencies, 1940-1980

Organizing and Digitizing

Based on the practices, access and collaborations established through the PRAC, we will recruit one student intern and one digital camera operator in Puerto Rico, drawn from the talent that already recruited as part of the Rutgers Puerto Rico Archival Collaboration in various projects. With our assistance during extended visits in August and December of 2024, the organizing intern will identify and prepare the sections of the Labor Department, Fomento, and Governor’s collections that include materials on migration and US communities. Professors Lauria Santiago and Garcia Colon have already identified a number of boxes from their own research and the
guides prepared by the Collaboration work have identified additional materials that are ready for digitization.

The camera operator will digitize these materials with a semi-professional camera capable of producing high resolution images (at least 300DPI) in compressed and TIFF format and present them in proper form with minimal meta data for collection origin and other basic characteristics.

Prof. Lauria Santiago will use Rutgers resources to complete the processing of images and post the digital materials to an Omeka-based website during 2025, part of the Rutgers Latino Studies Research Initiative domain for other projects at Rutgers. These projects include the Archive of the Department of Puerto Rican Studies, the Companion to a forthcoming Rutgers University Press book on Latinos in New Jersey (edited by Prof. Lauria Santiago), and the oral histories of Latinos in New Jersey developed by Professors Lilia Fernandez and Kathleen Lopez. The AGPR will also include this collection within its in-development public-facing digital archive.

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