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Latino Heritage Documentation Project

Documenting Latino Communities in New York

Growing Hispanic-Latino populations in New York

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 cities and towns, large and small, all over the state. Within the next decade Latinos will become New York’s largest minority population.

Inadequate documentation of Latinos in New York

Much of the documentation that records the rich history and culture of these diverse communities statewide is in danger of being lost. Only a handful of repositories in New York collect Latino materials as a matter of policy.

Latino Heritage Documentation Project

The State Archives is working with people from many sectors of the community concerned with Latino affairs in New York—the people who create, care for, use, and are the subjects of historical records—to identify the issues, people, organizations, and events that are most critical to document.

The Archives is also seeking appropriate repositories, community-based when possible, that are interested in collecting Latino records.

Documentation Plan

From the information we are gathering, the State Archives will develop and publish a Latino Heritage Documentation Plan to guide people who create or collect documentation in their decisions about what to keep.

The Archives will work with a range of people, organizations, and historical records repositories to begin implementing the plan to ensure that important resources are identified, saved, and made accessible.

Information available

The project has produced and made available here a Preliminary Guide to Existing Documentation of the Latino Community and a A Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History and Culture in New York State.

Who will benefit

Historical records of Latino communities in New York can be essential resources for many individuals and organizations, including:

  • Latino community leaders, scholars, legislators, governmental officials, and other policy makers
  • Members of Latino communities and groups interested in their own history
  • Teachers and scholars researching and helping students to understand Latino contributions to New York’s history and culture
  • Other citizens interested Latino history and culture.

Parameters of the Latino Heritage Documentation Project

Who are Hispanic-Latinos?

This project aims to preserve and make accessible the documentary heritage of New York’s Latino/Hispanic populations. The project is statewide in scope, and 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 descendants 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, Latina, Latino/a, Hispanic

Latino and Latina, the masculine and feminine forms in Spanish, are often shortened to Latino/a when the person referred to may be male or female. Latinos refers to both genders, and Latino is the adjectival form when the following noun is in English. These conventions are followed in this project’s documents. 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, and individuals and groups may have strong preferences for one term or the other. In this project, the terms Latino and Hispanic 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 claim 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-Hispanic identity for people with Hispanic surnames and ignore the diversity within this broad group.  

Priorities for documentation

For the purposes of this project, all Latino-Hispanic people fall within the parameters, but the primary emphasis is on self-identified Latino-Hispanic groups. Hispanics, like other population groups, participate in the full range of human activities. In each of the topics to document in New York History, from Agriculture to Transportation, Hispanics will find part of their history. But not all documentation can be saved and made accessible, and not everything is equally important. The task of this project is to identify and prioritize for documentation the topics and subtopics that are central to the history of Latinos in New York.

Important to document are communities, organizations, businesses, government entities, and groups of all kinds that are predominantly Latino in membership; Latino/a individuals who have made significant contributions or achieved prominence, either in Hispanic communities or mainstream society; and government entities, organizations, and businesses that serve or interact with Latino populations.

Products from the Latino Heritage Documentation Project

This project is part of the New York Heritage Documentation Project, which is also developing documentation plans for mental health and environmental affairs.