Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State
Long a home for Puerto Ricans, New York has in recent years become a destination for immigrants from throughout Mexico, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Diverse and growing Latino communities are found in urban and rural communities all over the state, contributing enormously to the cultural, social, political, and economic fabric of New York. Within the next decade Hispanics will become New Yorks largest minority population, yet only a handful of repositories in New York are actively collecting Hispanic materials.
Much of the documentation that records the rich history and culture of these diverse communities statewide is in danger of being lost. Historical information is inadequately represented in the documentation of broad areas of Hispanic culture, including the fine arts, popular music and dance forms and folk and traditional arts. Similarly, information is extremely limited about Hispanic businesses and social, political, community, and religious organizations. Latino/a experiences with and responses to issues of immigration and migration, discrimination, economic opportunity, public education, health care, law enforcement, and social services are poorly represented in the historical record. Even the substantial contributions of various Latino/a community leaders and politicians from New York at the local, state and even national level are seriously lacking adequate documentation.
The New York State Archives, in cooperation with the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, has developed this guide as part of a statewide initiative called the New York Heritage Documentation Project. It is working to ensure the equitable and comprehensive documentation and accessibility of all of New Yorks history and peoples. The Latino Community Documention Project has involved working with people from many Hispanic and non-Hispanic sectors of the communitypeople who create, care for, use, and are the subjects of historical recordsto identify the issues, people, organizations, and events that are most critical to document. The State Archives is also seeking appropriate repositories, community-based when possible, that are interested in collecting Latino records. The project has been made possible by a major grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The main purpose of this guide is to help create a comprehensive, equitable historical record of New Yorks Latino/Hispanic populations, one that represents fairly the full spectrum of communities, facets of life, and activities that have contributed to New Yorks evolving history and culture. More specifically, the guide aims to:
- Provide guidance in documenting Latino history and culture to Latino and non-Latino people and organizations;
- Raise awareness of the importance of documenting Hispanic history and culture among the creators, custodians, and users of relevant records;
- Identify the priority areas for documentation of New Yorks Latino/Hispanic history and culture in the next decade and guide records creators, repositories, and funding sources in their decisions about what is most important to preserve and make accessible;
- Demonstrate an approach to documenting Latino populations statewide that can guide the development of local and regional plans.