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EFE NEWS SERVICES
History Of Puerto Ricans In New York Available In
February 9, 2000
Copyright © 2000 EFE NEWS SERVICES (U.S.) Inc. All Rights
Source: World Reporter (TM)
NEW YORK - The history of Puerto Ricans in New York can now
be accessed from the Puerto Rican Migration Archive which has
opened its doors after more than four years of preparation.
"These documents are part of our cultural and historic
heritage because they show the experience of Puerto Ricans in
the United States," chief archivist Juan Hernandez told EFE
"The documents offer information about the emigrants their
closest relatives. It also gives information about the circumstances
under which many people emigrated from Puerto Rico and the current
conditions on the island at the time," he added.
The archives contain reports on the four agencies created by
the Puerto Rican government until 1993, the activities they held
for the community, and an extensive collection of photographs,
some of which belong to renowned photographer Jack Delano.
According to the archive, many documents are still unavailable
to the public as their cataloging and preparation is a gradual
process which can last up to 10 years, at a cost of more than
one million dollars.
The Puerto Rican community has been present in New York for
decades and has played an important role in its social and economic
development, a contribution it made on farms, in factories, restaurants
and all kinds of industries.
The history of their migration is documented through 1993,
beginning in 1930 when the Puerto Rican government created the
Identification and Employment Office in New York, responsible
for issuing identification cards to the Puerto Ricans, many of
whom used them to prove they were U.S. citizens.
The archives include birth certificates, baptism certificates,
letters between relatives in New York and Puerto Rico as well
as letters from government officials on the island, among other
The identification cards included a photograph, a physical
description, fingerprints and had a "multiplying effect"
as they contained information about the person's family members
in terms of their marital status and who they lived with in the
city, Hernandez said.
In 1948, the Identification and Employment Office was replaced
by the Migration Division of the Puerto Rican Department of Labor,
which then extended its services to the Puerto Rican community
in New York with several programs, which included farm workers.
In 1989 then-Puerto Rican Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon made
that office part of the executive branch, thus creating the Department
of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States, whose
first chief, was the current Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
In 1993, the department was dismantled by Gov. Pedro Rossello
and became part of the Administration of Federal Affairs of the
Puerto Rican government in Washington.
It was at that moment that a group of Puerto Ricans worried
about the future of the valuable documents took steps so that
they would be entrusted to an independent organization.