Collection ID: 1976.001

Collection context


Acosta, Flora, 1894-1975, Acosta, Magda, 1905-, Acosta, Ramon, 1880-, Acosta, Rosenda, 1908-, Ally, Trina, 1921-, Armas, Encarnacion, 1910-, Arroyo, Angel M., 1912-, Arroyo, Carmen R., 1909-, Barreto, Jaime, Bermudez, Justina, 1921-, Bonilla, Carmelita, 1908-, Carrasquillo, Magdalena, 1910-, Carrero, Jean, 1914-, Colon, Ramon, 1900-, Correa, Elba, Cortes, Esther M., 1910-, Cortiella, Mayda, Cresente, Mercedes, Cresente, Pedro, De Jesus, Pastor, 1889-, Diaz, Mercedes, Estepa, Julio, 1918-, Ferrell, Julio, 1893-, Festa, Josephine, 1927-, Figueroa, Rosario, 1902-, Fontanez-Soto, Santiago, 1905-, Fortun, Maria, 1899-, Garden , Maximina, 1914-, Giboyeaux, Jose Ramon, 1901-, Gonzalez, Carmen, 1926-, Guanhill, Elizabeth, 1924-, Guanhill, Pedro, 1915-, Hernandez, Julio, 1925-, Hernandez, Luis, 1920-, Homar, Lorenzo, Hostalaza, Emilio, 1900-, Irizarry, Honorina Weber, 1906-, LaRosa, Ramon, 1898-, Larrequi, Dicky, 1927-, Loperena, Felix, 1906-, Maisonet, Jovita, 1904-, Malabe, Orlando, 1919-, Marinez, Gumercindo, 1935-, Marrero, Luis, 1901-, Marti, Anaberta, 1915-, Marti, Nereida, 1934-, Martinez, Gregorio, 1906-, Medina, Felipe, 1896-, Melendez, Angel, 1897-, Melendez, Filomena, 1885-, Mercado, Peter O., 1909-, Mongtignier, Gilbert, 1938-, Mulero, Mildred, 1928-, Negron, Sophie, 1891-, Oliveras, Edna Rosado, 1934, Padron, Lucila, Perez, Nick, 1905-, Plasencia, Gonzalo, 1909-, Pratts, Francisco, 1902-, Ramirez, Encarnation, Ramos, Juan, 1908-, Ramos, Maria C., Rivera, Cecilia, 1903-, Rivera, Monte, Rivera, Pedro, Rivera, Tomas, Rodriquez, Juana Weber, 1897-, Rodriquez, Maria, 1911-, Rodriquez, Pedro, 1912-, Rodriquez, Ramon, 1902-, Rosado, Roberto, Ruiz, Mr., Santiago, Georgina, 1890-, Santos, William, Sepulveda, Ernesto, 1903-, Simmons, Rafaela, 1903-, Tejada, Gloria, 1925-, Torres, Clemente, 1905-, Torres, Mr., Torres, Olga, 1917-, Vazquez, John, Vazquez, Juan, Sr., 1912-, Velasquez, Carolina, 1911-, Vice, Celia M., 1913-, Villa, Betty, 1919-, and New York City Community College. Puerto Rican and Latin Studies Program.
The Long Island Historical Society initiated the Puerto Rican Oral History Project in 1973. Using funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, over seventy-five interviews were conducted documenting the experiences of Brooklyn residents who arrived from Puerto Rico between 1917 and 1940. This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted primarily between 1973 and 1975. Also included are newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets about Brooklyn’s Puerto Rican community, and administrative information on how the project was developed, carried out, and evaluated.
1.75 Linear feet and in four manuscript boxes and three audio cassette tape boxes
and Materials are in Spanish and English.
Preferred citation:

Identification of item, date (if known); Puerto Rican Oral History Project, ArMs 1976.001, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.


Scope and Content:

The collection contains transcripts for sixty-four interviews, printed ephemera including newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets, and administrative materials. The collection is arranged thematically into three series: 1) Transcripts, 1973-1975, 1983, 2) Puerto Rican Community, 1960-1983, and 3) Administrative materials, 1968-1984. Interview recordings were originally made on compact cassette tapes and are house separately.

Series I: Transcripts, 1973-1975, 1983 makes up the bulk of the collection. There are transcripts for fifty-nine of the sixty-nine original participants and an additional five transcripts from interviews conducted outside the original scope of the project. For a complete listing about translations, participants, and dates of the interview, please see the Index file in this series. Abstracts of the interviews conducted with the original sixty-nine are also included in this series. Folders are organized according to the project number assigned to each narrator. Each folder contains all available transcripts for that interview. See separate appendix for inventory of recordings.

Series II: Puerto Rican Community, 1960-1983 consists of printed ephemera related to the Puerto Rican Community. Items include brochures, booklets, and fliers for Puerto Rican Studies programs at academic and cultural institutions in the New York City area and in Puerto Rico. Newspaper clippings in this series are divided into those focusing on New York’s Puerto Rican community and press on LIHS’s Puerto Rican Oral History Project. This series also includes a booklet published in English and Spanish entitled “Danger in Puerto Rico.” The work is by Ramon Colon, one of the original sixty-nine interviewed for the project.

Series III: Administrative materials, 1968-1984 includes all retained materials that went into the funding and implementation of the project. Several folders in this series are devoted to information about the project’s participants. Interviewer John Vazquez created critique forms for all the sixty-nine original participants. Those worksheets and any background information material collected on narrators are included here and organized according to the project number assigned to the individual. Background information on those narrators outside the original scope of the project are filed together and arranged alphabetically. These materials were most likely generated as part of course taught by Mr. Vazquez at New York City Community College. Any information worksheets filled out on individuals who were not interviewed are filed separately. Also found in this series is information on project personnel, financing, and other oral history projects. A file of project reports consists of updates from three different perspectives: project coordinator Anthony Cucchiara, interviewer John Vazquez, and student worker Julio Gonzalez.

Biographical / Historical:

The Puerto Rican Oral History Project began with grant funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. Awarded in 1973, the purpose of the grant was to conduct interviews with Puerto Ricans who settled in Brooklyn between 1917 and 1940. Sixty-nine individuals were interviewed as part of the original scope of the project with each individual assigned a number identifier from 1 to 69. The number of participants later expanded due to the continued interest of project interviewer John Vazquez. Mr. Vazquez, the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Studies at New York City Community College(NYCCC), taught an oral history course in the Spring of 1975 that required his students to interview Puerto Rican residents of Brooklyn: these interviews are also included in the collection.

Of the original sixty-nine interviews, nine were conducted between April and August 1973 before the project was shelved until 1974. The 1973 interviews were usually conducted in paired teams by Elba Correa, Mayda Cortiella, Pedro Rivera, Tomas Rivera, [Mr.] Torres, and [Mr.]Ruiz. Other than their names, no further information is available on these interviewers, and their relationship to LIHS is unknown. When the project was picked back up again in January, it had difficulty retaining staff. Project coordinator Anthony Cucchiara hired two college students to conduct interviews. These students left the project after one month having conducted only one interview. Next hired was Roberto Rosado, an instructor at NYCCC. Mr. Rosado was able to carry out two interviews before leaving the project in May 1974. In June, another instructor from NYCCC, Monte Rivera, joined the project and conducted seven interviews before leaving at the end of the month. A new hiring search produced Jaime Barreto, a Brooklyn Public School Coordinator. Mr. Barreto was joined by John Vazquez in August, and individually, the two conducted the remaining fifty interviews that comprised the project’s original scope.

Interviews were conducted in Spanish, English, or both. In 1974, Maria C. Ramos and William Santos were hired to transcribe and translate interviews. These transcriptions are handwritten. Additional interview transcriptions come from a typed series which were done by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College when the interview tapes were on loan to that institution in 1984. Typed transcripts are in the language of the interview, without English translation. There is some overlap between handwritten transcriptions done by Ramos and Santos and those from the Hunter series resulting in interviews with multiple transcripts attached to them.

Of the interviews done as part of Mr. Vazquez’s course at NYCCC, three participants carried over from the original sixty-nine. Transcripts of two interviews from this group were possibly made as a result of the loan to Hunter College. Besides these two transcripts the rest of the interviews recorded for Mr. Vazquez’s course are not transcribed.

For specific information on language and availability of transcription for individual interviews, please see the Index file in Box 1.

Acquisition information:
Materials contained in this collection were generated through the efforts of the Long Island Historical Society.
Processing information:

Collection recieved first full processing in the Spring 2009 by Morgen Stevens-Garmon, archival intern.


Transcripts in Series I are arranged according to the original project number assigned to each narrator. Those transcripts outside the original project are in chronological and alphabetical order. Folders in Series II and III are arranged chronologically and thematically when appropriate.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Indexed Terms

Armed Forces
Citizenship |z New York (State) |z New York
Depressions |y 1929
Factories |z New York (State)
Korean War, 1950-1953
Local transit |z New York (State) |z New York
Parades |z New York (State) |z New York
Political clubs |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Rican families |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Rican poetry
Puerto Rican women
Puerto Rican women |x Employment |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Rican women |x Political activity |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Rican women |z New York (State) |z New York |x Social conditions
Puerto Rican youth
Puerto Ricans
Puerto Ricans | z New York (State) |z New York |x Social condititions |y 20th century
Puerto Ricans |x Cultural assimilation |z United States
Puerto Ricans |x Education |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Ricans |x Employment |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Ricans |x Health and hygiene |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Ricans |x Housing |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Ricans |x Poetry
Puerto Ricans |x Race identity
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York Region |x Religion
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |v Interviews
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |v Newspapers
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Economic conditions
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Ethnic identity
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x History |y 20th century
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Intellectual life
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Language
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Music
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Politics and government |y 20th century
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Social life and customs |y 20th century
Puerto Ricans |z New York (State) |z New York |x Societies, etc.
Race discrimination |z New York (State) |z New York
Race relations |z United States
Racism |z New York (State) |z New York
Wages |z New York (State) |z New York
Work environment |z Puerto Rico
Work environment |z United States
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1939-1945
Hunter College. Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
La Prensa.
Long Island University.
Museo del Barrio.
New York City Public Schools.
Pfizer Inc.
Puerto Rican Merchants Association.
Puerto Rican Writers Association.
Puerto Rico Winter League (Baseball league).
Universidad de Puerto Rico . Centro de Investigaciones.
Colon, Jesus, 1901-1974
Cruz, Celia
Dennis, Antonia
Grevi, Santiago
Kelly, James
Tapia, Carlos
Weber, Louis
Astoria (New York, N.Y.)
Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
Cobble Hill (New York, N.Y.)
Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
Flushing (New York, N.Y.)
Fort Greene (New York, N.Y.)
Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
Ponce (P.R.)
Puerto Rico
Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)
San Juan (P.R)
San Lorenzo (P.R.)
San Tulce (P.R.)
South America
Staten Island (New York, N.Y.) |v Maps
Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
United States |x Emigration and immigration
Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)



Open to researchers without restriction.


Brooklyn Historical Society archives and manuscripts must be examined on site. Appointments to examine archives and manuscript materials must be made in advance by contacting the Archivist through e-mail at For access to interview recordings please e-mail Sadie Sullivan, the Oral Historian, at Please contact the Brooklyn Historical Society to learn of any additional conditions of access and use.


Identification of item, date (if known); Puerto Rican Oral History Project, ArMs 1976.001, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States