Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
Defining Our Terms
This guide aims to help preserve and make accessible information about the documentary history and culture of New Yorks Latino/Hispanic populations. It is statewide in scope. Latino/as have settled in nearly all parts of the state, often in communities or neighborhoods with shared place of origin. These populations include migrants, immigrants, and descendents of people from Mexico, Central America, South America, Puerto Rico, and the rest of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean who live in New York State. Also included are immigrants and descendents of people from Brazil and Spain.
Latino and Hispanic are broad terms that encompass a great diversity of culture, history, experience, and identity. In New York, both are generally used to denote the same populations, but they have different connotations. Individuals and groups may have strong preferences for one term or the other (in this guide, the terms are used interchangeably). Individual Latinos may identify strongly with their places of ancestral origin, from the level of village to nation or possession, they may feel part of a pan-Latino identity, or they may not have a strong sense of Latino identity. Mainstream institutions and governments tend to assume a general Latino/a-Hispanic identity for people with Hispanic surnames and ignore the diversity within this broad group.
For the purposes of this guide, all Latino/Hispanic people are included, but the primary emphasis is on self-identified Latino/Hispanic individuals and groups. Hispanics, like other population groups, participate in the full range of human activities. In each of the topics to document in New York *, from agriculture to transportation, Hispanics will find part of their lives, part of their history. But not all documentation can be saved and made accessible, and not everything is equally important. The task of this guide is to help identify and prioritize for documentation the topics and subtopics that are central to the history of Latino/as in New York.
*See the New York Documentation Topics Framework, a comprehensive, annotated list of eighteen topic areas to consider for documentation in New York history, prepared by the New York State Archives. A summary list of the topics is found in the Appendix.
For the purposes of this guide, documentation consists of valuable information about Latino history and culture in New York that may be found in a wide range of formats (paper, photographs and slides, motion picture film, audio- and videotape, computer disks and tape) typically collected by archival repositories. Many kinds of documentation may have important historical value, for example:
- Diaries, correspondence, photographs, slides, tapes and other sound or graphic records that document family or community life, events and activities
- Minutes, summaries, or transcripts of meetings, hearings, or conferences
- Correspondence, including email files, of people in responsible positions
- Reports, grant proposals, position papers, academic papers, and other unpublished documents that present what an organization does and why or that discuss issues pertaining to Latino populations
- Program announcements, broadsides, flyers, and other publicity materials related to events, programs, or services
- Legal briefs and other supporting documentation related to litigation
- Maps, photographs, slides, tapes and other sound or graphic records that document the people or activities of a group or organization
Three-dimensional artifacts also tell important parts of the story, and much of the information in this guide will be useful to those collecting such objects. The focus of this guide, however, is on archival documentation. Organizations that are committed to collecting material culture may want to consult with one of the following organizations or other museum professionals for guidance:
- Museum Association of New York State
- Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies
- Upstate History Alliance
- Western New York Alliance of Historical Associations
(For contact information, see www.nysmuseums.org.)