Member Spotlight: Center for Puerto Rican Studies

by Ms. Madonna Hernandez, Archives Assistant, Center for Puerto Rican Studies

09242013_centrospotlight.pngThe Library and Archives at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies is devoted to collecting, preserving, and providing access to resources documenting the history and culture of Puerto Ricans in the United States. This year marks their 40th anniversary.

The Centro Library was formally established in 1973 as an integral component of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro). Centro is a research institute dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. Its mission is to produce and disseminate relevant interdisciplinary research linking scholarship to social action and policy debates, and to contribute to the betterment of our community and enrichment of Puerto Rican studies.

The Library and Archives provides services and programs to the scholarly community as well as the general public. Constituents are diverse and come from the United States and abroad (Spain, Japan, France, etc.). Access to holdings information is facilitated through mail, email, telephone, the online public catalog CUNY+, databases, and through our website.

The Library and Archives also promotes Puerto Rican history and culture through traveling exhibitions and other public programs. The Centro Library collection includes books, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, and music. It also holds theses and dissertations, extensive holdings of historical newspapers and periodicals in microform, and a rare book section.

09242013_centrospotlight2.png Materials are acquired in English and Spanish and in all areas of the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. A major strength of the library is its works on the history of Puerto Ricans in the United States, particularly in the Northeast region. Although dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience, Centro also acquires some materials related to other Latinos in the United States.

The media collection contains mostly documentary and feature films as well as sound recordings. With the exception of our film collection, our materials are non-circulating. 

The archives, known as the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, were formally established in 1989. Documents include personal papers, records of organizations and institutions, photographic collections, broadsides, programs, and ephemera. Among the collections are the records of civil rights organizations, the papers of activists, writers, artists, scholars, educators, and elected officials.

Special features of the Archives include its photographs documenting Puerto Rican life in the U.S. throughout the twentieth century, art prints/posters by artists from New York and Puerto Rico, and sound recordings of Puerto Rican popular music. Databases for these collections are available on-site.

Finding aids or guides, intended as maps to the archival holdings, introduce researchers to the indivdiauls and organizations included in the collections, and allow them to identify and ably request spcific domcuments contained within indvidual collections needed for research. Finding aids are available on the Centro website.

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary, Centro is currently promoting a sponsorship drive. Plans to host a public celebration of the occasion are under way.


Photo credits: Andre Lee Muñiz