Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
What to Document in Latino/Hispanic History
To be considered priorities for documentation, topics should fall within one or more of these subjects AND meet criteria above for statewide impact and significance. Possible subtopics recommended for documentation includebut are not limited tothose listed under each subject.
The subjects listed below grew out of a series of regional meetings and conversations with numerous individuals in Latino communities throughout the state. While there was considerable agreement across the state on the important subjects to be documented, the emphases were sometimes different from one region to another. Because this is a statewide guide, it reflects primarily the topics on which there was wide statewide agreement. Regional planning processes are likely to result in documentation plans more accurately tailored to each regions history. (Notes from the regional meetings are available at the State Archives.)
The subjects described here are all considered extremely important to document. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Included in this category are visual and graphic arts and design, performing arts (music, dance, theater, performance art), literature, film and media arts, including folk and community-based arts, popular arts and entertainment, and fine arts. Also cultural and artistic traditions retained from the place of origin and new forms acquired or created in New York.
- Latino art and music forms: traditional and New York based
- Important Latino theaters, dance companies, musical groups
- Latino Literature, in Spanish and English
- Latino interaction with mainstream arts and popular culture
- Museums and other cultural organizations
- Important artists in all disciplines
Latino owned and operated small and mid-sized businesses have been a central facet of Latino history and community life in New York Latino neighborhoods helping to define the character of the communities and meet their everyday needs.
- Latino chambers of commerce and other business associations
- Latino-owned businesses
- Latino media: newspapers, magazines, radio, television
The topics listed here include both the struggles to establish bilingual education and Latino or Puerto Rican studies and their subsequent histories throughout New York State.
- Bilingual education
- Latino Studies in higher education
- Latino students experiences in elementary, secondary, and higher education
- Adult education, ESL
This includes a broad range of subtopics including activities, lifestyles, and changing ways of life of individuals, families and groups; distinctive aspects of living within various Latino communities and neighborhoods; and groups and organizations formed according to group identity for support, advocacy, recreation, or education.
- Domestic and family traditions and histories, genealogy
- Folk and traditional arts
- Food and cooking
- Community festivals, parades, and celebrations
- Hometown clubs and other social organizations
- Historical and cultural organizations, community centers
Activities, issues, and functions to be documented under this category tend to be of two types: (1) Community-based Hispanic organizations and programs that provide services within the community; or (2) Issues of access to services or opposition to policies and behaviors harmful to the community on the part of government or non-Latino businesses, organizations, and agencies. Included here are Latino activists and advocacy organizations that work for improved services, improved access to services, bilingual service providers, and the end of discrimination and other harmful policies and behaviors.
- Public health
- Mental health
- Social Services
- Environmental justice
This subject includes the origins of Latino communities in New York, their ongoing evolution and demographics; also the factors influencing peoples decisions about moving to and within New York. Factors may include availability of work and housing; family, friends, or community already at the destination; bilingual education and services; living conditions and quality of life.
- Origins and reasons for migration/immigration
- Settlement patterns at the state, regional, and local levels
- Migration within cities, between rural and urban settings, and between regions
- Communication, travel, and out-migration between NYS and places of origin
The occupational opportunities and preferences of Hispanics have varied widely from community to community in New York, but in particular communities certain occupations have been predominant for a time. For example, the Puerto Rican community in Syracuse was initially strong in hotels and restaurants, then construction, then factories, and so on. Some fields of occupation have been important for Latinos statewide; several are listed below. Discrimination and "tracking" based on race, language, or gender have been common; discrimination and struggles to oppose it are part of this subject for documentation.
- Characteristic occupational patterns within particular communities over time
- Agricultural work, migrant and settled; day workers
- Government/Civil Service Correctional services, health services, etc.
- The military
- Education and professions
- Organized labor Latino participation, leadership
- Law enforcement and corrections
- Job discrimination and unemployment
The documentation of Latino organizations and important community leaders is a likely component of each of the other subjects in this list. But the documentation of organizations and leaders across the spectrum of subject areas was almost universally considered a high priority subject in itself by participants in the development of this guide. It is possible for a documentation project to be focused on documenting the organizations and/or leaders in a Latino community rather than on a particular subject area. Also considered important was the documentation of Latinos who have achieved prominence in public life (in government, sports, the arts, etc.), regardless of whether their achievements were related to the Latino community or its issues.
- Latino community organizations throughout the history of the community, including once-important organizations that no longer exist
- Community leaders
- Latinos prominent in public life
This subject includes political, governmental, and judicial activity at the federal, state, and local levels that affects Latino communities and individuals; creation and administration of laws, provision of government services, and protection of the rights of citizens; elected and appointed public officials, government agencies and programs.
- Civic leadership
- Hispanic political clubs and organizations
- Community voter registration, political organizing and campaigning
- Hispanic elected and appointed officials from New York at the federal, state, county, and local levels
- Black and Puerto Rican Caucus and the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force
- International relations mutual influences of Latin American and US/New York State politics
- Impacts of federal, state, and local law and public policy on Latino communities
- Criminal justice system Law enforcement, the courts, the prison system
Religious denominations and groupings of all religious faiths and spiritual movements found in Latino communities are included here, as are spiritual practices outside the context of organized religion.
- Churches of all denominations: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal
- African-derived religions such as Santeria
- Community religious festivals and celebrations
- Family and domestic religious practice
- Church-based agencies providing social services, such as Spanish apostolates
Efforts to achieve or oppose social, economic, and political change, including grassroots efforts outside of mainstream organizations. Individuals, organizations, and activities that address issues such as civil rights, discrimination, education, and environmental justice that affect the community.
- Civil rights
- Environmental justice
- Community activism
Certain events of local, statewide, national, or international scope have either had important impacts on Latino/Hispanic history in New York or represent milestones in that history. Although documenting a national or international event is beyond the scope of this guide, there may be important New York State dimensions or ramifications that should be documented.
- Spanish American War 1898
- Puerto Ricans granted U.S. citizenship 1917
- Immigration acts of 1965 and 1986
- Events in Latin America leading to emigration: Cuban revolution (1959); Dominican rebellion and U.S. occupation (1965), wars in Central America, etc.
- Aspira Consent Decree (1973), which led to the Bilingual Education Act