Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
At the heart of the process was the understanding that different organizations and groupsgovernments, businesses, non-profit and community organizations, ethnic groups, and individuals and people in different regions of the state may have very different perspectives on their history and culture and different ways of thinking about and documenting their activities. No single group of archivists, scholars, or other experts could be expected to fairly represent the diversity of New Yorks Hispanic populations in establishing statewide priorities for documentation.
Therefore, the State Archives worked with people from many regions and many sectors of the communitythe people who create, care for, use, and are the subjects of historical recordsto identify the issues, topics, events, organizations, and people that are most important to document in New York.
The method used to create the plan included the following steps:
- Conducting background research to identify critical developments, trends, events, functions, legislation, individuals, and organizations in New Yorks history of Latino communities. The results of the research are summarized in the report, "Latino Communities in New York State: An Historical Outline."
- Defining topics and subtopics for potential documentation emphasis through dialogue with subject experts and individuals active in different facets of life and work within New Yorks Latino communities.
- Identifying existing documentation to determine what historical records already exist for New Yorks Latino communities in archives, libraries, and other repositories. A summary of the documentation assessment is provided in the "Preliminary Guide to Latino Documentary Sources in New York State."
- Consulting with the field for advice on identifying the major topics, issues, events and trends in Latino history and experience, establishing priorities for documentation, and locating important collections that might be in danger of being lost or destroyed. The process included numerous meetings and telephone conversations with individuals and a series of six regional meetings of eight to twelve people each, with representation from state and local government, non-profit organizations and activists, business, education, social services, religion, the arts and journalism, and repositories such as libraries and historical societies.
- Determining priority documentation needs by comparing existing documentation with the topic areas considered most important by people in the field and identifying the critical gaps in the historical record.
The following table summarizes the method used to develop this plan. Although the steps outlined below follow a logical sequence, they do not take place in strict chronological order. Several run concurrently, and the results of "earlier" steps are often revised on the basis of information gathered in "later" ones. This methodology is intended to be applicable to documentation planning in any topic area and at a statewide, regional, or local level.
Step 1. Define documentation topic and determine its parameters.
- Draft definition of the documentation topic and its parameters the boundaries of the topic.
- Consult with subject experts, researchers, and records creators to develop and validate definition.
Step 2. Conduct background research to determine documentary universe.
- Identify significant developments, trends, events, functions, legislation, individuals, and organizations within defined parameters.
- Prepare historical overview of topic from secondary sources
- Conduct preliminary online search of existing documentation
- Consult with subject experts, researchers, and records creators for additional information and validation and on how to organize and subdivide the topic. (Use individual meetings, focus groups, email and phone as appropriate.)
- Develop a list of topics and subtopics that need to be documented.
Step 3. Prioritize topics/subtopics.
- Establish a project advisory group to provide formal advice on project progress.
- Define criteria and method for prioritizing topics and subtopics.
- Define documentation levels from minimal to extensive collecting
- Prioritize topics/subtopics according to criteria. Identify documentation levels for the topics/subtopics.
- Consult with subject experts, researchers, and records creators to refine and validate priorities.
Step 4. Assess existing documentation in relation to priorities.
- Compare existing documentation with priority topics and subtopics to identify documentation needs
- Define and identify documentation gaps and the levels of documentation needed to address them.
- Publish initial findings and solicit additions and corrections from readers
Step 5. Identify and prioritize actions needed to address documentation needs.
- Identify the most important steps to be taken, who should be involved, and how to begin implementation.
- Identify records creators and repositories as potential partners in action.
- Plan short- and long-term actions to address gaps in the documentary record.
- Take immediate action to save selected important and endangered records.
Step 6. Prepare and distribute documentation plan.
- Draft plan identifying priority areas for documentation, extent of documentation, key individuals/groups to be documented, potential partners, and actions needed to achieve documentation goals.
- Review plan with key contacts, including records creators, repositories, and users, to validate conclusions.
- Distribute and publicize the plan widely, particularly among constituent groups.