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History of the Centro Archival Collections

The origins of Centro’s archival collections can be traced to the Puerto Ricans in New York: Voices of the Migration Project, 1980-1995 conducted by the Oral History Task Force.  The objective of this oral history project was to interview early Puerto Rican migrants, community leaders and garment workers as a method of capturing the history of the community.  Centro acquired the Jesus Colon Papers in 1983 and the Justo A. Marti Photography Collection in 1984 as a result of this project. 

Centro officially established the archives program to build upon these initial collections in 1989.  Centro has received funding from the New York State Archives’ Documentary Heritage Program to locate primary historical documents and potential donors.  This effort succeeded in acquiring the collections of Pura Belpré, Graciany Miranda Archilla, Genoveva de Arteaga, Ruth M. Reynolds, and the United Bronx Parents, Inc.  After subsequent grants for processing and describing the collections Centro was able to open the archival collections to external researchers.  Since then, the archives has created a unique collection dedicated to the dissemination of information from various Puerto Rican communities in the United States.

Centro Library & Archives has been recognized for its contributions in documenting the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. We received the Program Excellence in a Historical Record Repository award in 1994 by the Board of Regents, and the Debra E. Bernhardt Excellence in Documenting New York’s History award in 2002.  Our archival collections have been cited in numerous scholarly publications and exhibited in collaboration with various museums in New York City.

Resources published by Centro Library & Archives staff:

Pérez, Nélida. Two Reading Rooms and the Librarian’s Office: The Evolution of the Library and Archives. Centro Journal. Vol. XXI, Num. 2, Fall 2009. pp. 199-218.

Cruz, Nelly. La Creación y desarrollo del Archivo Puertorriqueño. Boletín del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas. Num. 6, 1991. pp. 190-208.

Hernández, Pedro Juan. Archivo histórico de la migración puertorriquena: Breve historia y estado del proyecto. Boletín del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas. Num. 6, 1991. pp. 209-232.

The Evolution of Centro’s Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, 1973-2012. The Latino(a)
Research. Vol. 8, Numbers 1-2, 2011-2012. pp. 85-98.