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Federal Writers' Project Interview, Family Case History, with a Male Immigrant from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, 1939

Interview with male immigrant from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, New York City, 1939
New York City Municipal Archives, NYCMA_WPA-FWP_B1_12
Document Description
Interview with a man from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, conducted by José Pastrana, reporter for the New York City Unit of the Federal Writers' Project, January 27, 1939. From Spanish Book—Life Histories (Part 1).
As you read the document, identify at least four Spanish words and their English translations.
What tone and which adjectives does the reporter use when describing the neighborhood?
Why did this man come to New York?  How did he get here?
What family events had a negative impact on this man?
How does the family support itself?
What are family members’ feelings toward President Roosevelt?
What role does the mother have in this family?
Historical Challenges
Research Puerto Rican history and try to answer the question: Puerto Rican migration––why the 1950s?
Research different waves of migration in the twentieth century and create a map showing these patterns.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Create a nutritional chart that shows the food groups among different Americans. Question whether certain health ailments facing Americans are more common among Hispanics than other ethnic groups.
Art: Using the description in the interview, draw a picture of what you think this family’s apartment looked like.
Matos-Rodriguez, Felix. Pioneros: Puerto Ricans in New York City 1892-1948. Arcadia Publishing, 2001.

Historical Context
Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony for almost four centuries until it was ceded by Spain to the United States following the Spanish-American War (1898). Today, it remains geographically and culturally part of Latin America despite its close ties to the United States. Almost all residents speak Spanish as their primary language.

Puerto Rican migration was facilitated after 1917, when U.S. citizenship was granted to all residents of the island. However, this change of legal status did not immediately produce a wave of migration. The largest migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States took place in 1945, after the end of World War II and after the island's transition from a plantation economy into a platform for export and factory production.

Puerto Rico is only one example of the larger pattern of workers’ migration from colonial or underdeveloped parts of the world to metropolitan countries. It is similar to the migration of North African workers to France; of Indian, Pakistani, and West Indian workers to Great Britain; and of Turkish workers to Germany.

Essential Question
Why do people migrate?
How does migration affect the migrant and the community into which they migrate?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this document and evaluate the significance of the information obtained from this interview.