Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
What to Document in Latino/Hispanic History
The State Archives has conducted an online search of Hispanic documentation that resulted in the production of its Preliminary Guide to Latino Documentary Sources in New York State. The extent of existing documentation varies widely among the subjects discussed in this guide. There are probably none that would be considered well documented overall. Some components or aspects of a particular subject, however, may be quite well documented and not require new efforts. For example, the Historical Records of the Puerto Rican Migration, a collection recently acquired by El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, consists of records created by various agencies of the Puerto Rican government which operated in the U.S. from 1930-1989; it voluminously documents important aspects of the "migration and settlement patterns" subject.
There is a general pattern worth noting: While all Latino/Hispanic communities in New York are seriously underdocumented, the Puerto Rican community in New York City, the largest and oldest Latino community in the state, is by far the best documented to date. El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College has been collecting Puerto Rican documentation in its exemplary archives since 1972; it is the only archives in New York State that is devoted primarily to Latino documentation. Many of the states Latino scholars are themselves Puerto Rican and have focused their scholarship on Puerto Rican studies. Fifty-four percent of the collections identified as Latino statewide in the State Archives survey are in college or university archives; another 18% are in local or state government repositories. Generally, non-Puerto Ricans statewide and Puerto Ricans outside of New York City are the most poorly represented in the historical record. Moreover, the activities of non-profit organizations, unincorporated groups, individuals, and businesses are usually poorly documented, because these creators of records usually lack adequate resources, time, and/or understanding of the importance of documentation, and because few repositories deliberately collect in this area. One purpose of this guide is to improve the level of documentation in these areas.
When considering a particular topic for documentation, one of the first things to do is search this Preliminary Guide to determine the extent to which the topic is already documented.