Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
This guide is statewide in scope, and the criteria it establishes for high priority documentation are based on statewide significance (see Deciding what to document and Criteria for Statewide Priorities). Furthermore, this is not a statewide "plan" that would attempt to say exactly what topics to document in what order. Rather, it is a tool to enable people to make informed decisions about what is important to document and how to go about it, based on the statewide significance of the topic.
The limitations imposed by the criteria of a statewide guide draw attention to the critical importance of Hispanic documentation planning at the regional level. There are numerous topics that may not merit inclusion in the statewide guide but are of great importance regionally or locally and belong in the historical record of Latinos in New York State.
The regional meetings that provided much of the data for the statewide guide revealed distinctive interests and concerns for documentation shaped by regional geography, history, issues, and organizations. It is the intent and hope of the State Archives that the statewide guide and its methodology will be used in each region of the state to generate more explicit and detailed regional documentation plans. The regional planning process would result in priorities and topics selected for documentation that reflect the specific needs and interests of the region. Therefore, this guide does not establish regional priorities.
The approach we have used in developing this statewide guide is designed to work also for regional or local planning. A major research library or cultural institution that serves a large region could use this as a guide both to method and to content in developing a regional Latino history and culture documentation plan. Similarly, a county historical society or museum, for example, could adapt this guides approach to documenting Latino communities in its county.
- Method (See Appendix B for how this guide was developed) The heart of the method is the involvement in the planning process of a wide range of people active in the Hispanic communities in the region. It should not be necessary to go through steps 1 and 2 of the method completely (defining the topic and its boundaries and determining the documentary universe), because those have been done in this guide (see Content below); however, it may be necessary to review and perhaps add to the this guides list of themes based on the history of a particular region. It will be important to prioritize topics for documentation (step 3), assess existing documentation in relation to the priorities (step 4), identify and prioritize actions to be taken (step 5), and prepare and distribute the plan (step 6). The criteria used in this guide for determining statewide priorities can be used in two ways to guide prioritization at the regional or local level:
- Local or regional topics that meet the criteria for statewide documentation should become local or regional priorities as well, for they will be contributing to filling statewide documentation gaps;
- Potential topics for documentation can also be evaluated using the criteria as applied to the region or locality. For example, has the topic "had major impact or influence" region wide or locally?
- Content This statewide guide provides a framework for thinking about the range of topics in Latino life and history in New York. The list of Subjects and Themes presented here should be used for regional/local documentation planning in conjunction with the Criteria. (See What To Document in Latino/Hispanic History)
The Archival Services staff at the New York State Archives can help people who are contemplating a regional or local Latino history and culture documentation project to think through the project and its relationship to the statewide guide. They can also provide guidance in seeking grant funding for documentation through the Documentary Heritage Program. (See Sources of Funding and Assistance and the contact information.)