Brooklyn Historical Society logo

Guide to the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories ARC.032

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201
718-222-4111
library@brooklynhistory.org


Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Cesar Garza

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Brett Dion 2017

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brooklyn Historical Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Creator: Marks, Morton
Creator: Velez, Tony
Title: Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories
Dates [inclusive]: 1924-1992
Dates [bulk]: 1986-1991
Abstract: Brooklyn Historical Society initiated the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project in 1988. Over fifty interviews were conducted to document the experiences of Brooklyn residents who arrived from Puerto Rico, Panama, Ecuador, and several other Central and South American nations in the latter half of the twentieth century. This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted between 1988 and 1989. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood demographics, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Also included are photographs and printed ephemera.
Quantity: 83.76 Gigabytes in 297 files, total running time: 38 hours, 19 minutes, 58 seconds (series 1).
Quantity: 2 Linear Feet in five manuscript boxes.
Language: Materials in English and Spanish.
Text [Box]: ARC.032 1 of 5
Text [Box]: ARC.032 2 of 5
Text [Box]: ARC.032 3 of 5
Text [Box]: ARC.032 4 of 5
Mixed materials [Box]: ARC.032 5 of 5
Call Phrase: ARC.032
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, 'Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn's Cultural Identity,' funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Return to Top »


Historical note

The Hispanic Communities Documentation Project was an initiative based at Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) in the late 1980s and directed by Dr. Morton Marks. In 1988 through June, 1989, the project sought to capture the cultural ethos of the Latino community in Brooklyn in a core collection of materials reflecting the Latino/a experience; through printed ephemera (e.g. handouts, fliers, clippings, restaurant menus) and the voices of community members themselves. At the heart of this collection stands a series of oral histories in which men and women of varying nationalities (Puerto Rican, Mexican, Ecuadorian, etc.) rendered the stories of their lives; as citizens of their place of origin, as immigrants in the United States, and as residents of Brooklyn, New York.

Though an official administrative history of the project does not exist, it seems to have been carried out as an expansion of the Puerto Rican Oral History Project, which BHS (then the Long Island Historical Society) initiated in 1973 and completed in the mid-1970s. Like the Puerto Rican project before it, the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project provides a substantial body of source material on the immigrant experience in late twentieth century America.

Return to Top »


Scope and Contents

The collection contains over fifty oral history interviews, thirty-three oral history interview transcripts, photographs, a VHS videotape, and a variety of printed ephemera, including newspaper clippings, fliers, handouts, programs, business cards, brochures, booklets and restaurant menus. The oral history narrators speak of the conditions in their homeland as they were raised and at the time of the interviews. They discuss the working conditions for themselves, their parents, and their children; contrasting experiences in their place of origin with their adopted nation. The narrators also describe the demographic shifts in their part of Brooklyn and the city at large, their support systems in political and religious organizations, and preserving and augmenting their cultures and ethnic identity.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged thematically into six series: 1) Publicized oral histories, 1988-1989, 2) Post-project oral histories, circa 1989, 3) Transcripts, 1988-1989, 4) Puerto Rican community papers, 1973-1991, 5) Other Latino/a communities records, 1950-1992, and 6) Photographs, 1924-1990. Interview recordings were originally made on compact cassette tapes and are housed separately from the papers.

Series 1: Publicized oral histories, 1988-1989 The materials in  Publicized oral histories constitute the bulk of the collection. The thirty-six interviews are arranged using the original order created at the time of the project, with narrators generally grouped according to their heritage. Interviews one through eight, and thirty-six, are with narrators from Puerto Rico. Interviews nine through thirteen are with narrators from Panama. Interviews fourteen through sixteen are with narrators from Cuba. Interviews seventeen through nineteen are with narrators from the Dominican Republic. Interviews twenty through twenty-two are with narrators from Mexico. Interviews twenty-three through twenty-five are with narrators from El Salvador. Interviews twenty-six and twenty-seven are with narrators from Nicaragua. Interviews twenty-eight and twenty-nine are with narrators from Guatemala. Interviews thirty through thirty-three are with narrators from Ecuador. The remaining interviews contain one narrator each from Colombia and Peru.

Series 2: Post-project oral histories, circa 1989 The materials in this second series of oral histories were not transcribed, abstracted, or indexed at the time of the project and have one of the following traits: Technical issues at time of recording, not a formal interview, no authorization from narrator, or restricted by narrator agreement.

Series 3: Transcripts, 1988-1989 makes up the physical bulk of the collection. The transcripts are arranged using the system of notation created presumably by Morton Marks whereby the transcript of each interview was assigned a three-part character string: H.O.H. = the abbreviation for Hispanic Oral History; 1 = the transcript's numerical position in the series of thirty-three; and [PR] = the acronym for the interviewee's nationality, in this case Puerto Rico. The nationalities represented in the transcripts also include Panama [PAN], Cuba [CU], Dominican Republic [DR], Mexico [MX], El Salvador [ELS], Nicaragua [NICA], Guatemala [G], Ecuador [EC], Colombia [COL], and Peru [PE]. In the container list names have been added to the preexisting folder headings for quick reference, but users are encouraged to consult the Abstracts of Transcripts in Box 1, Folder 1 for a brief biographical profile of each interviewee.

Series 4: Puerto Rican Community papers, 1973-1991 Puerto Ricans are the Latino/a group most represented in this collection. For that reason relevant items are assembled in Puerto Rican Community and arranged alphabetically. The bulk of the material derives from 1986-1991 and is ephemeral in nature. There are fliers and programs commemorating Puerto Rican cultural festivals, informational brochures (some in Spanish) on receiving health care, and miscellaneous publications such as those found in "Puerto Rican Studies Materials" (Box 3, Folder 7). This is the most substantive folder in the series; it contains bibliographies, a published monograph, and three back issues of  Centro, the Bulletin of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (New York, NY).

Series 5: Other Latino/a communities records, 1950-1992 contains a variety of material either connected to a particular Latino/a group or general in nature. The series is comprised of business cards, newspaper clippings, miscellaneous periodicals, sample menus from Brooklyn-based restaurants, a music cassette tape, as well as fliers, programs and booklets disseminated in connection with cultural and recreational events. The bulk date for these items is 1986-1990. All the clippings (Box 4, Folders 10-11) are photocopies and most were culled from Spanish-language newspapers in Brooklyn and beyond. The music cassette tape (Box 4, Folder 17) is entitled  Marc Rizo Plays Caribbean Danzas and was produced by the Manhattan-based South American Music Project. The periodicals folder (Box 4, Folder 8) consists of the July 11, 1988, issue of  Time and the April 9, 1990, issue of  Newsweek both of which feature articles on the Hispanic population in America.

Series 6: Photographs, 1924-1990 includes photographic images that were commissioned as part of the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project, as well as photographs that were donated to the project by members of Brooklyn's Latino/a communities. A substantial portion of this series is made up of photographs taken by photographer Tony Velez in the late 1980s, which were commissioned as part of the project. These include images documenting events in Brooklyn's Latino/a communities, including religious festivals, parades, and other community gatherings. Also included are individual and group portraits of various community members. The rest of the series is comprised of photographs donated by various individuals, including family photos, images documenting community life and events, and community organizations. Collectively, these photographs span the years 1924 through the late-1980s.

Return to Top »


Access Points

Document Type

  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Magazines (periodicals)
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Photographs
  • Programs (documents)
  • Transcripts

Subject Topics

  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Communities
  • Cuban Americans
  • Documentary photography
  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ecuadorian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ethnic identity
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Language and languages
  • Mexican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Performing arts
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Salvadorans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Panama
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers with varied restrictions according to narrator agreement. Oral histories can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal. Research materials are open to researchers upon request and are accessible onsite at the Othmer Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. Please see the Oral History Note for guidelines on using Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history collections. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for oral histories:

[Narrator Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer First name Last name], Interview Date [Month day, YYYY], Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories, ARC.032, [Call number]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Apellidos, Nombre], Entrevista de historia oral por [Nombre y apellido del entrevistador], [día, mes, año], Registros e historias orales de Proyecto Para la Documentación de las Comunidades Hispánicas, ARC.032, [ID objeto]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Preferred citation for research materials, papers, and photographs:

Identification of item, date (if known); Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories, ARC.032, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials

In addition to this collection, Brooklyn Historical Society has other oral history recordings also related to those of Latin American, Puerto Rican, and Spanish-speaking heritage, or related to the residents of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn:

• The Puerto Rican Oral History Project records (1976.001)

• The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project Records (2010.019)

• New Neighbors: Sunset Park's Chinese Community records (1994.007)

• Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations oral history collection (2011.019)

For more information on these collections please visit our online finding aid portal.

Related collections located elsewhere include:

• Oral History Collection, 2013- at the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (100PR_OHPROJECT), Ceñtro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College, CUNY. Many oral histories are digitized.

Separated Materials

Master cassette tapes are stored separately from the collection.

 

Oral History note

Las siguientes historias orales son conversaciones íntimas entre dos personas quienes generosamente han consentido a compartirlas con el archivo del Sociedad Histórica de Brooklyn e investigadores. Por favor escuche con la intención con que las entrevistas fueron compartidas. Investigadores deben entender que:

1. La Sociedad Histórica de Brooklyn se rige por los Principios generales y prácticas óptimas para historia oral como acordadas por la Asociación de Historial Oral (2009) y se espera que el uso de este material se lleve a cabo respetando estas éticas profesionales.

2. Cada historia oral depende de las memorias y opiniones del narrador. Dada la naturaleza personal de la historia oral, los oyentes podrán encontrar que algunas opiniones o lenguaje utilizado por los narradores es objetable. De acuerdo la misión de preservación y acceso ilimitado, cuando posible, la Sociedad Histórica de Brooklyn presenta estas opiniones tal como fueron grabadas.

3. Transcripciones creadas antes del 2008 sirven como guía a la entrevista y no son consideradas exactas. El audio debe ser considerado recurso principal de esta entrevista. La transcripción puede incluir comienzos falsos, tropiezos verbales, pronunciaciones incorrectas y repeticiones comunes en conversación. Esta decisión ha sido tomada ya que la Sociedad Histórica de Brooklyn da prioridad a la voz hablada y también porque algunos investigadores encuentran información valiosa en estos patrones verbales.

4. A menos que estos patrones verbales sean pertinentes a su trabajo investigativo, se les exhorta a los investigadores a que corrijan la gramática y hagan otras modificaciones cuando citen, manteniendo el estilo de oratoria del narrador mientras editen el material para los estándares de escritura.

Oral history interviews are intimate conversations between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share these recordings with the Brooklyn Historical Society archives and with researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. Researchers will understand that:

1. The Brooklyn Historical Society abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association (2009) and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

2. Every oral history relies on the memories, views and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

3. Transcripts created prior to 2008 serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. It may contain natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, repetitions that are common in conversation, and other passages and phrases omitted from the transcript. This decision was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns.

4. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator's speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Documentation Project had three major components. Project staff went into Brooklyn neighborhoods and conducted oral history interviews with representative members of many Latino communities. The staff also collected from community members artifacts from the early, middle and late twentieth century that were significant to the Latino/a experience in Brooklyn. At the same time, the project photographer created a visual survey of the contemporary community.

Processing Information

Series 3 through 6 were minimally processed to the series level and a finding aid was created by Cesar Garza in 2006. In 2010, the finding aid was revised and entered into Archivists' Toolkit by Matthew Gorham. Accession V1997.076 was added to the collection by John Zarillo in 2014. A sampling of recordings and transcripts were digitized in 2011-2012. The bulk of recordings and transcripts were digitized by Brett Dion in late 2016. Series 1 oral histories received item-level processing and description in December, 2016 to February, 2017 by Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez, Voices of Generations project intern, and Brett Dion,  Voices of Generations project archivist. Series 2 remains unprocessed. The finding aid was input into ArchivesSpace by John Zarrillo in April 2017.

Where appropriate, diacritical marks used in the Spanish language have been applied to names referenced in the notes of this finding aid. In order to ensure that finding aid text remains searchable for all users, the marks have not been applied to record titles or to name headings.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series 1: Publicized oral histories, 1988-1989

Scope and Contents

The materials in Oral histories constitute the bulk of the collection. The thirty-six interviews are arranged using the original order created at the time of the project, with narrators generally grouped according to their heritage. Interviews one through eight, and thirty-six, are with narrators from Puerto Rico. Interviews nine through thirteen are with narrators from Panama. Interviews fourteen through sixteen are with narrators from Cuba. Interviews seventeen through nineteen are with narrators from the Dominican Republic. Interviews twenty through twenty-two are with narrators from Mexico. Interviews twenty-three through twenty-five are with narrators from El Salvador. Interviews twenty-six and twenty-seven are with narrators from Nicaragua. Interviews twenty-eight and twenty-nine are with narrators from Guatemala. Interviews thirty through thirty-three are with narrators from Ecuador. The remaining interviews contain one narrator each from Colombia and Peru.

Dones, Ana, 1988 September 23

Biographical note

Ana Dones was born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, circa 1934. At the time of the 1988 interview, she had lived in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn for thirty-five years. Dones came to New York when she was eighteen years old. She first lived in Manhattan but worked in Brooklyn, so she settled in Sunset Park to avoid commuting back and forth. Dones held a series of jobs in nearby factories. Once she was married and had four children, she was devoted to her family. She also dedicated herself to preserving and building the Latino/a community in Sunset Park, from the days when she was president of the Hatillo Star Social Club, a community center that sponsored team sports and dances. She was among the founders of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and once served as its madrina (godmother). She also worked for the Renewal Action Program, a service that provides food and shelter to the homeless. She was appointed treasurer of a women's charity group called Alianza de Damas Unidas de Brooklyn (The Alliance of United Women of Brooklyn). As of 1988, Dones was still very involved in community affairs in Sunset Park, and went to work as a student recruiter in a new neighborhood college.

Scope and Contents

As a resident of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn for many years, Ana Dones recounts its transformation into a Latino enclave, including the changes on Fifth Avenue, the area's main shopping street. She recalls when she did not feel comfortable speaking Spanish in the neighborhood, when signs in Spanish and Latin restaurants were uncommon, and she had to go as far as Manhattan to find tropical produce. She also gives an account of the chronology of the Latino arrivals in the neighborhood, beginning with Puerto Ricans, many from the town of Hatillo, followed by Dominicans, Mexicans and South Americans. Dones fears that there are pressures that will change the neighborhood again, this time coming from the many Chinese Americans and Korean Americans who were buying homes and operating businesses in the neighborhood. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Dones, Ana
  • Pascualy, Jose

Subject Topics

  • Clubs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Factories -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Rican women -x Political activity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Rican women -x Employment -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Societies, etc.

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Corujo, Amaury, 1988 August 15

Biographical note

Born circa 1949, Amaury Corujo came to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn from his hometown of Hatillo, Puerto Rico in 1967. He went to work in a hospital, and went from dishwasher to messenger to X-ray technician to interpreter, when he then became interested in public administration. He was made program director of U.P.R.O.S.E. (United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park), founded in 1966 by neighborhood ''pioneers" that included Efrain Rosa and Gonzalo Plasencia. Under Corujo's directorship, this organization grew into an umbrella service organization assisting neighborhood residents in a variety of areas, including tenant rights, housing and immigration services.

Scope and Contents

Amaury Corujo begins the interview with his impressions of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and his dismay at the living conditions he found there among the area's Puerto Ricans. From his involvement with the rehabilitation of the neighborhood's housing stock, and as an area homeowner himself, Corujo's interview consists of detailed discussion on such issues as the industrialization of the neighborhood and the consequent dislocation of many of its Latino/a residents, as well as the gentrification process. He elaborates on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) scandal and its effects on efforts to rebuild the neighborhood. A good part of the interview is given over to the ways that Christmas is observed by the neighborhood's Puerto Rican community, including house to house visits, food, and music. He talks about the Fiesta Patronal in his Puerto Rico hometown of Hatillo, and the close links between there and Sunset Park. He speaks of the future of the Latino community in Brooklyn and his program, called the ''Leaders of Tomorrow." Corujo concludes by considering Nuyorican identity and the death of the "Jíbaro'' image, and how this change is reflected in music. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Corujo, Amaury

Subject Organizations

  • Sunset Park Redevelopment Committee
  • United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park

Subject Topics

  • Community development -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dominican Americans
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians
  • Puerto Ricans -x Cultural assimilation -- United States
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Ethnic identity
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Language
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs -y 20th century

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Fontanez, Angela, 1989 January 29

Biographical note

Angela Fontanez was born in the Bronx in 1943. As a child, she was sent to Puerto Rico to live with her grandmother. After several months, she returned to New York and went to live with her stepfather and mother on Washington Street in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, in one of the original ''pioneer'' settlement areas. Her family then moved to the Farragut Houses, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During this period, her family would do piecework at home, making jewelry. In her work as a producer for WNYC television, Fontanez has been involved in state-funded projects, one of which is a short film for young people that recreates the arrival of Puerto Ricans to New York at around the turn of the century. In her work on this project, Fontanez re-created an old cigar-making workshop, the kind that could have been found in Brooklyn at the turn of the century.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Angela Fontanez gives a detailed account of the schools, churches, and stores frequented by the Puerto Rican community in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Fontanez recalls growing up in the Farragut Houses, a public housing project in the Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood, in the fifties. She comments on the changes the neighborhood underwent; how, for example, supermarkets replaced small bodegas. She discusses the formation of neighborhood gangs during this period. This interview is a bridge to the pioneers' generation, since Fontanez' family was friendly with Jesús Colón and other figures of that generation. In closing, she describes the television work she's produced that was intended to educate young people—particularly Puerto Ricans—about migrant contributions to urban development. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Colon, Jesus
  • Fontanez, Angel

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard

Subject Topics

  • Factories -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gangs -- New York (State) -- Kings Country
  • Motion pictures
  • Navy-yards and naval stations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Public housing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Rican women -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social conditions
  • Puerto Ricans -x Employment -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Ethnic identity

Torres, Marilyn, 1988 November 8

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Torres, Marilyn

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Pascualy, Jose, 1988 August 25

Biographical note

José Pascualy, affectionately known as Monchito, was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and moved with his mother and four siblings to El Barrio-- or the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan--when he was a child. He later moved to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he owned and operated a flower and party services business. His wife owned a bakery in Sunset Park. Pascualy was active in his community; participating in civic groups such as Los Pioneros and the Fifth Avenue Merchants Association.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Jose "Monchito" Pascualy recounts his childhood in Manhattan's El Barrio and his adult life in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. He discusses the history of the Puerto Rican community and the civic group Los Pioneros. Pascualy describes several Latino/a and Puerto Rican parades such as the Pioneers Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the Hispanic Parade. He also mentions resistance to the organization of subsequent Puerto Rican or Latino/a parades from Sunset Park's local officials. He discusses generational differences between Puerto Ricans and highlights some Puerto Rican cultural traits. Pascualy also talks about immigration of other Latino/a nationalities as well as the growth of the Chinese American community in the area. He elaborates on the theme of gentrification of Sunset Park and the effect on its residents, especially those of limited means. He discusses the efforts made by merchant members of the Fifth Avenue Merchants Association to improve the neighborhood by bringing in more commerce to Sunset Park's Fifth Avenue. Interview in Spanish conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Pascualy, Jose

Subject Organizations

  • Fifth Avenue Merchants Association

Subject Topics

  • Gentrification -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -x Cultural assimilation -- United States
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Economic conditions
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs -y 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Societies, etc.
  • Race relations -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Falcon, Pablo, 1989 May 1

Biographical note

Pablo Falcón was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico and moved to the neighborhood of Santurce at ten years old. After having spent three years stationed in Panama with the United States Army during World War II, he relocated to the Bronx, New York as his family had already moved there. He spent nineteen years living in the Bronx, working at an electronics company, and later moved to the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn to work as a building superintendent. Falcón was a toy-maker since childhood; using his father's carpentry tools and materials to make toys for himself and his friends. He decided to showcase traditional Puerto Rican toys at a Three Kings Day celebration in Brooklyn and since then his craft gained enough popularity to be showcased in several venues such as El Museo del Barrio and the television show "Sábado Gigante." Falcón was an active member of the group Los Hijos e Hijas de María and the Guardian Angels Church on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Pablo Falcón talks about growing up in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. He narrates how he started making toys using his father's tools and materials as well as scraps he found around the house. Falcón also narrates how his toys gained popularity in the United States and how nostalgia played a role in this. He also compares the materials used in the construction of the toys in Puerto Rico and the materials he used in New York. He briefly discusses the ethnic composition of the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, his various employments, and the charitable activities of the church group Los Hijos e Hijas de María. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Hernán.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Falcon, Pablo

Subject Topics

  • Puerto Ricans -x Employment -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Societies, etc.
  • Toy making

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Santurce (San Juan, P.R.)
  • Sheepshead Bay (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Diaz, Carmen, 1988 September 8

Biographical note

Carmen Diaz was born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, to a restaurant-owning family. She was one of five children. Diaz lived in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn from 1970 up to the time of the 1988 interview. She became an active member of the community, and became involved with La Liga de Damas Unidas de Brooklyn (League of United Women of Brooklyn). Founded by Jose "Monchito" Pascualy, this organization worked toward the development of the Latino communities throughout the borough of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

Carmen Diaz relates anecdotes about her grandmother, a spiritual healer with a wide knowledge of medicinal plants and discusses details of plants and their use in curing various ailments. There is also a discussion of belief in witches in her hometown. Diaz also supplies a wealth of detail about folklore connected with the observance of El Día de San Juan, or Midsummer Day. She discusses some of the "pioneer" Puerto Rican women leaders in Sunset Park. During her many years in the neighborhood, she has seen Sunset Park undergo many changes. As she puts it, it has gone from an "American" barrio to a Hispanic enclave. The community's growth occurred so rapidly that many Latino/a children have had to be sent to schools outside of Sunset Park. Diaz discusses the ethnic composition of the neighborhood in the last part of the interview. Interview in Spanish conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Diaz, Carmen

Subject Organizations

  • Alianza de damas unidas de Brooklyn

Subject Topics

  • Dinners and dining -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medicinal plants
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs -y 20th century
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York Region -x Religion
  • Spiritual healing and spiritualism
  • Storefronts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Hernandez, Ismael, 1989 May 4

Biographical note

Ismael Hernandez was born circa 1970 in Quebradillas, a small town in the west of Puerto Rico. Hernandez came to New York as an infant where he attended school until the third grade, and then returned to Puerto Rico for six years. He came back to New York in 1985 at the age of 15 and lived with an older brother in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. His parents remained in Puerto Rico.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Hernandez discusses his Latino/a friends, as well as relations between African-American and Latino/a students at Bushwick High School, where he is a student. He talks about his experiences in the school's bilingual program, and about life in the neighborhood. He mentions Casa Borínquen, a local Latin dance club, and ''La Avenida de Puerto Rico," or Graham Avenue, so called because of the large number of Latino/a businesses there. Finally, he talks of his hopes of returning to Puerto Rico and continuing his education there, and of the impact American culture has had on him. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Hernandez, Ismael

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -x Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ecuadorian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Rican youth
  • Puerto Ricans -x Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs -y 20th century

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Wilson, Alonso, 1988 August 11

Biographical note

Alonso Wilson de Briano was born in 1930s Panama and became interested in music at an early age, due to the influence of his father, a choir master. Wilson attended the Conservatory of Music of Panama and then continued his studies at the National Institute of Panama. He wrote a number of musical compositions that received recognition, and was a member of the Cleff Melodiers, an all-male choral group that performed American spirituals. Wilson came to the United States seeking economic betterment and success in his musical career. In the mid-1950s, he lived briefly in Manhattan and in Roosevelt, Long Island, but when the rest of his family arrived they settled in Brooklyn. In 1958 he performed with a quintet called "Windsor Club" at the Carnegie Recital Hall in a program called "Modern Expressions in the Music of Panama.'' He then formed a Latin band and continued to perform with different groups in the Bronx. Following his graduation from Brooklyn College, he attempted to return to Panama but employment conditions forced him to return to New York. Wilson lived in Long Island in 1988, where he taught music in a local high school.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Alonso Wilson de Briano weaves high points of his personal journey and professional development with reverence for songwriters and musicians. The music that Wilson developed is known as Windsor style, and it combines Afro-Panamanian, Cuban, and West Indian musical elements. It sounds like a blend of mambo and calypso, and it was the popular music of Panamanian-West Indians arriving in Brooklyn in the 1950s. In Wilson's own words, Panama is a country ''with a foot in each side;" one coming from the Latino/a side and the other from the English-speaking West Indies. Wilson feels that Panamanian-West Indian culture is becoming more and more Latinized, both in Brooklyn and in Panama. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Wilson, Alonso

Subject Topics

  • Calypso (Music) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Composition (Music)
  • English as a second language
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Popular music -x Writing and publishing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cuba
  • Panama
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Samuel, Anesta, 1988 August 16

Biographical note

S. Anesta Samuel is one of the founders of the Dedicators, a club organized in 1953 with the aim of raising money for scholarships in the United States and in Panama. The organization is also devoted to the preservation of Panamanian-West Indian culture. Samuel was born circa 1919 in Panama to a couple who migrated from the West Indian island of Montserrat. Her father came to work in the Canal Zone, and she grew up in an all-West Indian settlement called Red Tank. While still a child, she resolved never to work for the Canal Zone government because of their discriminatory policies toward West Indians. There were also limited educational possibilities for West Indians, with little or no advancement beyond the eighth grade. While still in her teens, Samuel opened a beauty shop in the town of La Boca, the largest settlement of West Indians in the Canal Zone. The business did well enough to enable Samuel to open another beauty shop and a beauty school. She married in 1937, and continued to do well financially. After World War II, her husband decided to come to New York to study, and she accompanied him.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, S. Anesta Samuel relates notable moments of growing up in Panama and adapting to and thriving in new surroundings in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn for much of her life. Samuel discusses her efforts at sponsoring other Panamanian-West Indians who were coming to New York in search of opportunities. She describes the charitable work that she began with old friends, founding a club called Las Servidoras, which became a forerunner of The Dedicators, founded in 1953. Samuel considers the thinning out of distinctly Panamanian heritage in American life, and the efforts of the Panamanian-West Indian Heritage Association to preserve cultural elements. In closing, she acknowledges the generation gap between the Panama-born immigrants and Panamanian American youth. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Samuel, Anesta

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn College
  • Panamanian-West Indian Heritage Association

Subject Topics

  • Balls (Parties) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Beauty Shops
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Education
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Race discrimination
  • Spanish language
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Panama
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Russell, Carlos, 1988 August 10

Biographical note

Dr. Carlos Russell was born in Panama. Dr. Russell grew up in the two Panamas; the West Indian one and the Latino/a one. His parents were separated, so he lived in Panama City with his mother and would travel to the ''West Indian'' city of Colón to see his father. He studied at the National Institute in Panama and attended the Episcopal Church. In 1955 Dr. Russell left Panama and went to Chicago. There, Dr. Russell got involved in politics in the Panamanian-West Indian community and also in the Black American community. Later, after having spent a number of years in Brooklyn, he was instrumental in arranging the National Conference of Panamanians in the Poconos, and is a founder of ''El Bahiano,'' the first Panamanian-West Indian newspaper to be published in both English and Spanish. As a Dean of the School of Contemporary Studies at Brooklyn College, he along with others began to promote cultural activities and to participate more in Panamanian politics both here and in Panama. In 1988, he resided in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Dr. Carlos Russell recalls that he and his family were in the "diaspora'' of Panamanian-West Indians. His grandparents came from Barbados and Jamaica, and other relatives came from some of the French West Indies. He opines that in Panama many of the West Indians who spoke English in the past have now turned to Spanish because English speakers were looked down upon. In the seventies and eighties, however, things changed and some Panamanians of West Indian descent have been appointed to government positions. Dr. Russell thinks that most of the youngsters who come to the United States from Panama in 1988 are not as ambitious as his generation, and the few who are politically active identify more with Latin America than with the West Indies. This attitude is prevalent in Panama as well, where there is a major Latinization among the West Indian descended communities. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Noriega, Manuel
  • Russell, Carlos
  • Torrijos, Omar
  • Wason, Wilfred

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn College

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Education
  • English as a second language
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Political participation -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race discrimination
  • West Indian Americans

Fisher, Sylvia, 1988 August 20

Biographical note

Sylvia Fisher, in the United States as an adult since 1962, is originally from Panama. She is of West Indian descent. In 1988, she was a resident of the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and was an active participant in two dance clubs; Cornelia and Friendship Square Social. She married in Panama and raised three children in Brooklyn. Fisher was previously employed with two banks and performed accounting duties for a garment district business in Manhattan at time of this 1988 interview.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Sylvia Fisher elaborates on her experiences as a child in Panama. She mentions the Canal Zone and the schools that she attended there. Fisher discusses her early involvement with square dancing and its relationship with her Panamanian West Indian identity. She talks about the evolution of square dancing in Panama. She mentions some similarities as well as differences in the music and style of square dancing as it was known in Panama and the United States. She also cites examples of occasions where the square dancing club to which she belongs in Brooklyn, has performed. Fisher also references other Panamanian West Indian social clubs in Brooklyn that are trying to preserve this group's culture, particularly that of square dancing, and the difficulties these clubs are facing in their attempts to get young people interested in square dancing. Lastly, the narrator discusses her life in Brooklyn. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Fisher, Sylvia
  • Russell, Carlos

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Clubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • English as a second language
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Race discrimination
  • Societies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Square dancing
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Panama
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Kelly, Reynaldo, 1989 May 4

Biographical note

Reynaldo Kelly was born in Colón, Panama in 1970. Although Colon was originally an English-speaking city, Kelly was primarily a Spanish speaker who was learning English as a second language. His friends in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn were mostly Spanish-speaking, and his musical tastes were mostly Latin Caribbean.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Reynaldo Kelly discusses bilingualism in Panama, and bilingual classes at Bushwick High School, where he is a student. He talks about the changes he sees in his native city, which he visits every summer, and he also describes Carnival in Colón. He describes life in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn and his plans for future studies. He looks forward to returning to Panama, where his father still lives. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Kelly, Reynaldo

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Carnival
  • English as a second language
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York -x Conduct of life
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Panamanian Americans
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Panama
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Perez, Gerardo, 1989 February 3

Biographical note

Gerardo Perez, alias ''El Viejo Yayo," is originally from Guanabacoa, Cuba. When this 1989 interview occurred, he had lived in Brooklyn for twenty-four years with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson. A restaurant entrepreneur by nature, Perez had spent most of his life working in restaurants.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Gerardo Perez discusses his family's business in Cuba as well as in the States. He details in depth how he started his present restaurant, El Viejo Yayo. As Perez tells his story, he provides some insight into the effects of the Communist Revolution on his family and, to some extent, on the country as a whole. In addition, the dilemma of national dislocation, sponsorship and immigration is highlighted. He talks about his journey through Spain and Costa Rica before arriving in Brooklyn. Perez recalls his difficulty with learning English as a second language. Throughout the interview, he also mentions some cultural customs that his family has brought over from Cuba, and still practice today. Perez sees other problems that are affecting quality of life in New York City, and particularly Brooklyn. Crime is his main concern. He elaborates on how drugs and the number of robberies have escalated in the past few years, and what the police force is doing about it. However, Perez provides some insight into how the various restoration projects, in the past as well as in the late 1980s, have helped make Brooklyn a livable, growing borough. Interview conducted by Lucia Rodriguez.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Perez, Gerardo

Subject Topics

  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Cuban Americans
  • Dinners and dining -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Language and languages
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cuba
  • Miami (Fla.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Gomez, Olga, 1989 February 28

Biographical note

Olga Gomez, married and the mother of two children, is originally from Cuba. A longtime resident of the borough when the interview occurred in 1989, Gomez lived first in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn and then in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

Olga Gomez begins the interview by giving details on Hispanics in Brooklyn's history who can be classified as "pre-pioneers.'' She mentions a couple of Cubans who came in the early 1900s to Brooklyn to live, work, and study. She also talks about her political involvement in the Latino/a community. She elaborates on why she is a Republican and also shares her feelings about being a woman in politics. She gives her viewpoints on the topic of the Hispanic identity. In doing so she talks about Spanish heritage. She analyzes the educational opportunities of the Latino/a in the United States. Gomez looks at programs like bilingualism and special education in relation to the Latino/a student. She also comments on Latino/a organizations in Brooklyn, in addition to activities like parades that they sponsor. According to her, the Latino/a people in Brooklyn are moving forward; socially, economically, as well as politically. Interview in Spanish conducted by Lucia Rodriguez.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Gaston, Mariana, 1988 December 15

Biographical note

Mariana Gastón was born in Havana, Cuba in 1949 to a Cuban father and a Mexican mother. In 1961, after spending a year in Mexico, her family arrived in the United States. After living for fourteen years in different cities in southwestern Virginia, where her father taught architecture at various universities, she came to New York to study. Gastón is a graduate of Manhattanville College. At the time of the 1988 interview, she resided in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Mariana Gastón draws on her experiences to provide insight into the development of relationships between Cubans living in Cuba and those living outside the country. She describes her role in the founding of a multicultural and multi-ethnic public school in Brooklyn, where she was also a teacher. She further discusses her involvement with two magazine publications that attempted to examine the historical process and aftermath of the revolution, as well as her participation in the Brigada Antonio Maceo. The publications sought to open the process of dialogue and reconciliation, while the Brigada was actively involved in the reunification of family members living in the United States and Cuba, and even sponsored a trip back to Cuba that is the subject of the documentary Fifty-five Hermanos. Gastón also reflects on the social and economic evolution of the different racial groups of Cubans in the United States. Additionally, she covers topics such as the early migration of Cubans to Brooklyn and the old Cuban community in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn; and the displacement of families due to gentrification. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Gaston, Mariana

Subject Topics

  • Cuban Americans
  • Education
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Musicians
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Spanish language

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cuba
  • Havana (Cuba)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Miami (Fla.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Duran, Amantina, 1989 March 28

Biographical note

Amantina Durán originated from the district of Loma Prieta, San José de las Matas, Dominican Republic. After arriving in New York City, she first lived in Manhattan and moved to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she resided when the interview took place in 1989. Durán attended the Church of the Transfiguration along with many nearby Dominican Americans. With her two daughters in college, she studied English at Solidaridad Humana, a school on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Amantina Durán names her motivations for moving; one of her reasons for living in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn is its proximity to the Church of the Transfiguration. She states that many Dominicans from her hometown also live nearby. At the church, a group from Loma Prieta and from other small neighboring towns meet on a regular basis. They contribute to a fund that offers financial aid to needy members. Durán discusses the Church's Nuestros Ninos Day Care Center, where she sent her daughters, thus allowing her to go to work in small factories in lower Manhattan. She discusses changes in Williamsburg; once heavily Puerto Rican, but populated instead by those of Dominican and Mexican heritages at the time of the 1989 interview. Finally, she talks about the problems of drugs, gentrification pressures, and conflicts between Williamsburg's Latino and Jewish communities. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Duran, Amantina
  • Walsh, Peggy, Sister

Subject Organizations

  • Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Dominican Americans
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Day care centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Ethnic identity
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Language and languages
  • Puerto Ricans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Guzman, J.R., 1988 August 30

Biographical note

J.R. (José Rafael) Guzmán was born in Monte Christi, in the north of the Dominican Republic. He came to the United States as a child, as a result of his mother's political activity against the Trujillo regime. They had first gone to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 1952, where the family had relatives, and then moved to upper Manhattan in the mid-1950s. Guzmán lived at 135th Street and Broadway until 1965. At the time that the area became heavily populated with Dominicans, Guzmán left the neighborhood and moved to the Bronx. While studying engineering at the University of Puerto Rico in 1967, he was drafted and sent to Vietnam, although not yet a United States citizen. After his release from the Army, he attended Lehman College, where he studied art. While still at Lehman, he took a job as a graphic artist, and in 1978 he started his own company. At the time of the 1988 interview, he worked with Roman and Tannenholz, an advertising company in Manhattan. Guzmán moved to the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1982, where he owned a home that he renovated himself. Some years before this interview, he obtained citizenship.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, J.R. (José Rafael) Guzmán recalls events and places leading up to his life in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Among his memories of the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan are the different ethnic gangs. The Puerto Ricans had one, but the Dominicans did not. He discusses the ethnic composition of the neighborhood, as well as the influx of Dominicans and other Latinos into the neighborhood. He mentions that the older store owners are usually Puerto Rican, but that the younger owners, especially of bodegas and record shops, are often Dominican. He senses some animosity between the two groups. As a member of the Sunset Park Restoration Committee, Guzmán is involved in community affairs but observes the lack of Latinos in that committee. He feels that Sunset Park will remain Latino because of the large number of Latino/a home owners. Interview conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Guzmán, J.R.
  • Trujillo Herrera, Rafael

Subject Organizations

  • Sunset Park Restoration Committee

Subject Topics

  • Bodegas |z New York (State) |z New York
  • Dominican Americans
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Music -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Musicians
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race identity
  • Spanish language
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -x Veterans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Dominican Republic
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Castillo, Diogenes, 1989 May 4
Castillo, Diógenes

Biographical note

Born in the Dominican Republic in the early 1970s, Diógenes Castillo was a student at Bushwick High School when this 1989 interview took place. He first lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side in the mid-1980s before moving to the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Diógenes Castillo describes what occupies his time as a high school student, including his work in a bodega in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. He talks about that neighborhood's Latino Caribbean culture, including Casa Borínquen, a dance club. Interview conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Castillo, Diógenes

Subject Topics

  • Bodegas |z New York (State) |z New York
  • Dominican Americans
  • English as a second language
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York -x Conduct of life
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Music -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Nightclubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Andon, Esperanza, 1989 January 4

Biographical note

Esperanza Andón is from Piaxtla, Puebla, Mexico. She and her husband immigrated to New York in 1972, and found work in Brooklyn. They then began to bring their children from Mexico. Andón founded a marathon race in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She is also a cook, and prepares regional Mexican specialties at home and distributes them house to house in the Mexican sections of Brooklyn, and at the Mexican American community's sports events at a park in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Esperanza Andón discusses the early days of her life in Brooklyn, when there were few Mexican products in the bodegas, and she had to travel to Casa Moneo on 14th Street in Manhattan. She recalls that in 1978, Mexican products began to appear in a Dominican-owned bodega on Myrtle and Franklin Avenues, and then in Mexican neighborhoods all over the borough. Andón describes in detail the origin of Brooklyn's Guadalupe Day ceremonies, beginning at the Guadalupe church in Manhattan, then through a series of Brooklyn churches, before finally finding a home at All Saints Church in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. She describes the regional costumes, including the china poblana and inditos, worn in the Guadalupe procession. Andón also recounts her inspiration to develop a marathon race; her way of keeping a promise to the Virgin of Guadalupe, after having health and immigration status issues. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Andon, Esperanza

Subject Organizations

  • All Saints Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Bodegas |z New York (State) |z New York
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic identity
  • Festivals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Mexican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Music -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Running races

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mexico
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Soriano, Amado, 1989 February 12

Biographical note

Amado Soriano was born in Piaxtla, a village in the state of Puebla, Mexico. His father was a school teacher. Soriano moved to Mexico City in 1965 with his brother and worked in a publicity agency. He came to New York City in 1971, at first living with friends in the South Bronx. He found work in a private restaurant in the Wall Street area of Manhattan (where he continued to work when the interview took place in 1989). In 1971, he moved to the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Soriano is an active member of several important Mexican organizations in Brooklyn; including la Sociedad Guadalupana, dedicated to organizing the services for Mexico's patron saint and held every December, and the Comite Pro-Construccion Capilla Cristo Rey en Piaxtla, a group raising funds to build a chapel in his hometown in Puebla.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Amado Soriano recalls many of his biographical details; from his youth in Piaxtla, Puebla, Mexico and as a young man in Mexico City and New York City. He speaks about the Virgin of Guadalupe ceremonies. Soriano details his son's participation, in that he dances with Los Tecuanes, a group of masked dancers who perform on the Virgin of Guadalupe's day. Soriano recounts the history of these dances, from their Mexican Indian origins, as well as the origins of the town of Piaxtla. Finally, he describes the growth of the Mexican community in Brooklyn. The interview closes with a reading of a composition, "Saludo Guadalupano." Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Soriano, Amado

Subject Organizations

  • All Saints Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Churches -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community identity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Festivals
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Mexican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Music -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Borough Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mexico
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Rojas, Miguel, 1989 March 16

Biographical note

Miguel Rojas was born in Piaxtla, Puebla, Mexico, and came to Brooklyn in 1980. His father came to New York in the late sixties, and founded the first Mexican bakery in the borough, located in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. His family were among the first Mexicans to come to that neighborhood. The Rojas bakery makes several kinds of Mexican breads.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Miguel Rojas recalls the major biographical details of his life. He looks back on the family immigrating to New York City and relocating from Manhattan to Brooklyn. He identifies quality of life issues as they apply to the Latino/a community; schools, small business, food, and job opportunities. Rojas details the business model of his bakery; they sell not only to repartidores—people who sell Mexican food door to door—but also to bodegas in Mexican neighborhoods. He describes the distribution of the Mexican community in Brooklyn. He discusses how the work is shared by his family members in the bakery, and how difficult it is to study at Pace University while managing a growing business. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Rojas, Miguel

Subject Topics

  • Bakeries -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Bakery employees -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic identity
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Mexican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mexico
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Aguilar, Jose, 1989 February 11

Biographical note

José Aguilar left El Salvador in 1980, when a relative was killed in the civil war and he began to fear for his own safety. He came to New York City via Mexico, and lived first in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens. Aguilar found work in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, but was picked up by immigration authorities and jailed. His fine was paid by a sister of the Church of the Transfiguration, and he was released. The church helped him find work, and his first job was at a summer camp in Upstate New York. Aguilar found an apartment in "Los Sures'' in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, not far from the Church of the Transfiguration.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, José Aguilar examines the difficulties of attending school to learn English while working and trying to survive economically. He speaks of the illusions that many Salvadorans have that they will live in the Manhattan skyscrapers they have seen in pictures, but end up in poor areas of Brooklyn. But in spite of difficulties, he feels that the community of Salvadorans that has fully formed near the church provides a support system that makes life more bearable for him. Aguilar observes that the Church of the Transfiguration has helped so many Central Americans, and as a result, many people arriving from there head directly to the church. Interview in Spanish conducted by Lucia Rodriguez.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Aguilar, Jose

Subject Organizations

  • Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ethnic relations
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Mexican Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Salvadorans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • El Salvador
  • Far Rockaway (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Ramirez, Mario, 1989 February 2

Biographical note

Mario Ramirez is from the town of Armenia, not far from the capital of El Salvador. His mother, fearing for his safety because of the civil war, sent him to Guatemala when he was only fourteen. This began an odyssey that was to last many years and that took Ramirez all through Central America, Mexico and the United States, often just a few steps ahead of the immigration police and sometimes living off the land. At the age of twenty, he found his way to Brooklyn and the Church of the Transfiguration. Ramirez found work in a factory, and then as a sexton in another Brooklyn church, where he also lives. When the interview took place in 1989, he was studying to be a building superintendent.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Mario Ramirez recalls his travels, many jobs, and hardships along the way. As a refugee from civil war in El Salvador, Ramirez remembers first entering the United States in Texas. He went back to El Salvador, but the civil war had worsened, and his mother sent him to Mexico City where a brother-in-law was living. He tells of crossing once again into Texas, and eventually finding work in the oil fields of Louisiana, and in agricultural work in the American South. He journeyed back and forth across the United States for six years. Ramirez recounts being helped by a priest at the Church of the Transfiguration when he arrived in Brooklyn. In the late 1980s, he made a trip back to visit El Salvador, and by then was established enough to help his family financially. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Ramirez, Mario

Subject Organizations

  • Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Church work with immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Salvadorans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sports -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • California
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico
  • Texas
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Guzman, Julia, 1989 March 6

Biographical note

Born in Mexicanos, a suburb of San Salvador, El Salvador, Julia Guzmán was proprietor of Los Churros Restaurant on lower Fifth Avenue in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. She left El Salvador in 1973, and had originally planned to join her relatives in California. However, a friend convinced her to come to Brooklyn. In 1987, after having worked in Brooklyn factories and as a housekeeper, Guzmán decided to open a Salvadoran restaurant. Los Churros became a popular gathering spot. At the time of the interview in 1989, Guzmán was planning to move the restaurant to a larger space within Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Julia Guzmán recounts her early days on Bergen Street in Brooklyn, when there were few Salvadorans in the area. She speaks of the growth of the Salvadoran community in Brooklyn, and especially in Jamaica, Queens. She also discusses the political situation in her country, and the difficulties the civil war there has created. Guzmán describes the success of her Los Churros Restaurant; especially on weekends, when a large, pan-Hispanic crowd comes to eat the Salvadoran specialties and to dance to live music. Finally, she recounts the story of how her hometown of Mexicanos received its name. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Guzman, Julia

Subject Organizations

  • Los Churros Restaurant (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • El Salvador -- History -- Civil War
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Music -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurateurs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Restaurants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Salvadorans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • California
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Rosales, Ana, 1989 March 16

Biographical note

Born in Juigalpa, Nicaragua, Ana Rosales first came to Brooklyn in 1974 when her first husband—a military officer—was sent by the Somoza government to study at Pratt Institute. She returned to Nicaragua in 1978, on the eve of the Sandinista revolution. Her husband was in the interior fighting the guerrillas when Rosales decided to leave the country; afraid of what the revolutionaries might do to the wife of an Army officer. After many immigration and travel hurdles she arrived in Miami, where she was assisted by the Red Cross and Miami Cuban Americans. Rosales then came to the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn with her three small children and stayed with friends. By 1989 she remarried, and was living with her family in a church-owned building near the Church of the Transfiguration in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Ana Rosales recalls the major biographical details of her life. She remembers her youth in Nicaragua, as well as her challenging attempts to flee the country during wartime. Her path included being stuck in Managua, crossing into Honduras, returning to Managua, flying out of El Salvador, and entering the United States. Rosales recounts her family's adapting to the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. In desperate financial straits, she was given the address of the Church of the Transfiguration by a social worker. She tells of her meeting with Sister Peggy Walsh and other church people, who helped her by providing an apartment in "Los Sures'' within the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and encouraged her to find work. Rosales speaks about working in a clothing factory, and attending Boricua College to study English. She also describes getting a position as a teacher's aide at a day care center. Interview in Spanish conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Rosales, Ana
  • Walsh, Peggy, Sister

Subject Organizations

  • Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua -- History -- Revolution, 1979
  • Day care centers -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • English as a second language
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nicaraguan Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Public welfare -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bay Ridge (New York, N.Y)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • El Salvador
  • Nicaragua
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Vega, Francisco, 1989 March 25

Biographical note

Francisco Vega was born in Granada, Nicaragua, and later moved to the capital of Managua. He was involved there with a number of businesses, including factory supplies. Under suspicion from the Sandinista government of having been in the Somoza army, he left Nicaragua in 1985, sponsored by a friend who lived in Brooklyn. After staying with this friend at first, he moved to Queens, where he lived for three years before moving again to the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. He resided there when the interview took place in 1989. He was able to find a job with a company that cleans restaurant equipment. He then set up a similar company of his own, where he employed many Latino/a workers.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Francisco Vega recalls the immigration experience that makes up a major part of his life story. He speaks of his pride at the fact that, having gone through a period of great hardship, including some weeks when he lived on the street, he is now self-employed and doing well financially. He describes his attempts to bring his children from Nicaragua, and to settle his problems with the immigration authorities. He also speaks of his relatives who live in the Nicaraguan communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Vega, Francisco
  • Walsh, Peggy, Sister

Subject Topics

  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Nicaraguan Americans -- Employment -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Nicaraguan Americans -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • California
  • Greenpoint (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Queens (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Lopez, Jorge, 1989 April 9

Biographical note

Jorge Lopez is from Livingston, on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. He emigrated in 1970, and came to live in Brooklyn, where he had some relatives. Lopez worked in customs in his port city of Livingston. After arriving in the States, he first found work as a garage mechanic in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and then went to work on the borough's docks. He was also an active member of St. Michael's Church.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Jorge Lopez discusses the Guatemalan colonies in Brooklyn, Jamaica, Queens, and New Jersey, where there are large Guatemalan communities. He describes a Guatemalan club that prepares for the Hispanidad Parade in Manhattan every year, and speaks of the numerous Guatemalan soccer leagues; who play other soccer leagues of the Latino Brooklyn community. He describes his work at the docks on Brooklyn's waterfront, and talks of the growth of the Guatemalan community in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to Lopez, this growth was aided by the arrival of Mexican produce since Guatemalan cuisine resembles Mexican cooking. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lopez, Jorge

Subject Topics

  • Guatemala
  • Chinese Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ethnic identity
  • Guatemalan Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • International cooking
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipping -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sports -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Martinez, Antonio, 1989 April 23
Martinez, Antonio

Biographical note

Antonio Martinez is from the Guatemalan coastal city of Livingston. He has lived in the borough since the late 1960s; first in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn was his permanent home. He worked as a movie projectionist in his home city, but found it difficult to obtain a license and continue this work in New York because of his difficulties with English. He became a hospital worker and has worked in the borough's hospitals for many years. Martinez is an active member of St. Michael's Church in Sunset Park, and participates in a Bible study group. He became active in Sunset Park community affairs as well, working with the Community Board Services and with local block associations. He brought the ''Green Thumb" program to Sunset Park, which turns vacant lots into vegetable gardens.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Antonio Martinez relates much of his personal history. He describes the changes in Sunset Park since his arrival, and notes that it went from an essentially Puerto Rican neighborhood to the multicultural area that it is today. He also discusses the role of block associations in the maintenance and improvement of the housing stock. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Martinez, Antonio

Subject Topics

  • Guatemala
  • Catholic Church -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Community development -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Guatemalan Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Melendez, Homero, 1989 March 10

Biographical note

Ecuadorian American Homero Melendez served as president of the Comité Cívico Ecuatoriano, an umbrella organization that groups together all the Ecuadorian associations and clubs in the New York City area. Melendez immigrated to New York City in 1970, and lived for a time in Manhattan's El Barrio. From the mid-1970s to the time of the 1989 interview, he was a resident of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and he speaks of the changes he has seen there since his arrival; especially the influx of Ecuadorians. A certified accountant, Melendez found work in factories as a mechanic when he first arrived in New York. He began to study English, and became an accountant for the Malabe Shipping Company in Brooklyn, where he spent five years. In 1989 he was working as a manager for a large company that imports footwear from Spain.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Homero Melendez gives a detailed account of the Comite Civico Ecuatoriano's history, fundraising activities, social events, and their efforts on behalf of the sick and needy in his home country. He describes the founding of the Ecuadorian Parade in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, which has a large Ecuadorian community. He names several Ecuadorian-owned businesses in his home turf of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. In closing, Melendez relates some of his personal history; including career moves and learning English. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Martinez, Antonio

Subject Organizations

  • Comite Civico Ecuatoriano

Subject Topics

  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Clubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ecuadorian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipping

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ecuador
  • New Jersey
  • Queens (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Paz, Luis, 1989 March 11

Biographical note

Luis Paz served as president of an organization of Ecuadorians dedicated to securing voting rights for Ecuadorians living abroad, who as of the late 1980s, were not permitted to participate in their country's electoral process. Paz is also a member of Profesionales Ecuatorianos en el Exterior (PROECUA), an organization of Ecuadorian professionals that was founded in 1979. When the interview took place in 1989, he was residing on Fourth Avenue at 62nd Street in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Luis Paz describes the history of the struggle for voting rights in Ecuador, which has included appeals to the United Nations and the World Court, as well as the role of the Ecuadorian American community in Brooklyn and the other boroughs in Ecuadorian politics. He explains the proliferation of Ecuadorian associations, which number in the hundreds in the tristate area, and the founding of the ''dean" of these associations, the Ecuadorian Sporting Club, which was over fifty years old at the time of the 1989 interview. Paz speaks of his reasons for living in Brooklyn, and describes the main Ecuadorian neighborhoods in the borough. Finally, he discusses the need for political mobilization among all the groups of Hispanic heritage in the borough, to give them a representation in local politics. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Paz, Luis
  • Roldós Aguilera, Jaime

Subject Topics

  • Clubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Community organi-ing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ecuadorian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Ecuadorians -- Suffrage
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Professional associations

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ecuador
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Madrid, Francisco, 1989 March 13

Biographical note

Francisco Madrid was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and immigrated to New York City with his family in 1970, settling on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. He attended high school in the evenings, studying English, and worked in small factories by day. He was drafted, and rather than enter the Army, he joined the Navy, where he spent three years. During that time he was able to perfect his English. After his military service, he enrolled at Brooklyn College, planning to study economics. His interests shifted to theater, and he began to take courses in the theater department. In 1981, he started teaching bilingual classes in a Brooklyn public school, and gained a master's degree in bilingual education. He was then admitted to a doctoral program in educational drama at New York University. In 1989, he was teaching in a heavily Latino/a populated school in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn with students from the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Francisco Madrid recalls his biographical highlights. He speaks of racial tensions during the early seventies in the Armed Forces, and of relations among Black, White, and Latino sailors. Madrid delves into his professional teaching experience; he has applied his dual interests in education and drama to his classroom work with children, dramatizing abstract ideas such as racial prejudice and social problems, such as the drug epidemic. Madrid describes the racial composition of where he lived; the Ditmas Park and Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn in the late 1980s. He ends the interview with an assessment of Latino theater in New York City. Interview in Spanish conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Madrid, Francisco
  • Tamayo, Nelson

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Ecuadorian Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • English as a second language
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race discrimination -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ditmas Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • East New York (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ecuador
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ocean Avenue (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Gallardo, Martha, 1989 May 4

Biographical note

Martha Gallardo, a student at Bushwick High School, was eighteen at the time of this 1989 interview. Born in Porto Viejo, Ecuador, she first came to New York City at the age of eight. She returned with her family to the coast city of Guayaquil, Ecuador but came back to New York to live in Queens, and finally (or at the time of the interview) to the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Martha Gallardo describes her student life, the relations between Latino/a and non-Latino/a students, and her interest in the Jehovah's Witnesses faith. Interview conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Gallardo, Martha

Subject Topics

  • Ecuadorian Americans
  • English as a second language
  • High school students -- New York (State) -- New York -x Conduct of life
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Public schools -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Religion -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Student life and customs -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ecuador
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Maldonado, Enrique, 1989 May 4

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Maldonado, Enrique

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Jimenez, Elba, 1989 April 6

Biographical note

Elba Ramos Jimenez was born in the highlands of Peru, and was raised in small towns there until her family moved to Lima. She worked in factories by day and attended high school at night. Jimenez came to New York in 1964, and lived first with her sister in the Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In the 1970s, she became involved with the Gowanus-Boerum Hill Housing Association, and later with the Altura Coalition, which fought for tenants' rights and against urban renewal and real speculation. For many years Jimenez worked in Brooklyn factories, but went to work in a day care center after her daughter was born. Her involvement with local politics led to her election as a Jessie Jackson delegate to the Democratic Party convention in San Francisco in 1984. In 1989, she was an instructor of bilingual education in a public school.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Elba Ramos Jimenez recounts her major biographical events. She recalls following family to New York, explaining that her sister had migrated to New York in the 1950s, and was sending part of the salary she earned in sewing factories back to her family in Peru. Jimenez discusses her community activist role, mentioning the community groups active in their opposition to the destruction of most of the low-cost housing in the Gowanus and Boerum Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn. She also shares some details of the Peruvian communities of New York and New Jersey, and of the Peruvian Independence Day Parade held in Paterson, New Jersey every year. Interview conducted by Marcelo Herman.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Jimenez, Elba

Subject Organizations

  • Gowanus-Boerum Hill Housing Association

Subject Topics

  • Community development, Urban -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hispanic Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Peruvian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Atlantic Avenue (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Peru
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Ramos, Belen, circa 1989

Biographical note

Belén Ramos was a Puerto Rican artist who danced and sang guaracha, bomba, plena, and calypso. She performed alongside several prominent figures in Afro-Caribbean music such as Tito Puente, Ruth Fernández, Ramón Rivero Diplo, Ismael Rivera, and Rafael Cortijo. Ramos performed in Puerto Rico, as well as New York—in numerous venues including the Palladium and Carnegie Hall—although she worked in factories during her first years in New York. Ramos also performed with the United Services Organization (USO) during World War II. Ramos' son was her dance partner and her sister was an Afro-Caribbean percussionist. She resided on 53rd Street in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn when the interview took place, circa 1989.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Belén Ramos lists several of the venues she's performed in as well as the orchestras and singers she's collaborated with during her artistic career in Puerto Rico and the United States. Ramos, with the help of José "Monchito" Pascualy, mentions many Latin clubs and theaters in Manhattan's El Barrio and the Bronx. She also describes performing for the United Services Organization (USO) during World War II and travelling internationally with her act. Ramos mentions some anecdotes from Puerto Rico, such as interacting with Felisa Rincon de Gautier (Doña Fela) and several instances of racism towards her and her children. Ramos interjects her narration with verses of Bomba and Guaracha songs. Interview in Spanish conducted by Morton Marks.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access is available onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires permission from BHS by contacting library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Pascualy, Jose
  • Ramos, Belen

Subject Topics

  • Bands (Music)
  • Dancers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Musicians
  • Nightclubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Puerto Rican women
  • Puerto Ricans -- Race identity
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State)
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Race discrimination -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cuba
  • San Juan (P.R)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Return to Top »


Series 2: Post-project oral histories, circa 1989

Scope and Contents

The materials in this second series of oral histories were not transcribed, abstracted, or indexed at the time of the project and have one of the following traits: Technical issues at time of recording, not a formal interview, no authorization from narrator, or restricted by narrator agreement.

Series 3: Transcripts, 1988-1989

Scope and Contents

The materials in Transcripts constitute the physical bulk of the collection. The transcripts are arranged using the system of notation created presumably by Morton Marks whereby the transcript of each interview was assigned a three-part character string: H.O.H. = the abbreviation for Hispanic Oral History; 1 = the transcript's numerical position in the series of thirty-three; and [PR] = the acronym for the interviewee's nationality, in this case Puerto Rico. The nationalities represented in the transcripts also include Panama [PAN], Cuba [CU], Dominican Republic [DR], Mexico [MX], El Salvador [ELS], Nicaragua [NICA], Guatemala [G], Ecuador [EC], Colombia [COL], and Peru [PE]. In the container list names have been added to the preexisting folder headings for quick reference, but users are encouraged to consult the Abstracts of Transcripts in Box 1, Folder 1 for a brief biographical profile of each interviewee.

Series 4: Puerto Rican community papers, 1973-1991

Scope and Contents

Puerto Ricans are the Latino/a group most represented in this collection. For that reason relevant items are assembled in Puerto Rican Community papers and arranged alphabetically. The bulk of the material derives from 1986-1991 and is ephemeral in nature. There are fliers and programs commemorating Puerto Rican cultural festivals, informational brochures (some in Spanish) on receiving health care, and miscellaneous publications such as those found in "Puerto Rican Studies Materials" (Box 3, Folder 7). This is the most substantive folder in the series; it contains bibliographies, a published monograph, and three back issues of  Centro, the Bulletin of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (New York, NY).

Series 5: Other Latino/a communities records, 1950-1992

Scope and Contents

Other Latino/a communities records contains a variety of material at times connected to a particular Latino/a group, at times general in nature. The series is comprised of business cards, newspaper clippings, miscellaneous periodicals, sample menus from Brooklyn-based restaurants, a music cassette tape, as well as fliers, programs and booklets disseminated in connection with cultural and recreational events. The bulk date for these items is 1986-1990. All the clippings (Box 4, Folders 10-11) are photocopies and most were culled from Spanish-language newspapers in Brooklyn and beyond. The music cassette tape (Box 4, Folder 17) is entitled  Marc Rizo Plays Caribbean Danzas and was produced by the Manhattan-based South American Music Project. The periodicals folder (Box 4, Folder 8) consists of the July 11, 1988, issue of  Time and the April 9, 1990, issue of  Newsweek both of which feature articles on the Hispanic population in America.

Series 6: Photographs, 1924-1990

Scope and Contents

The series includes photographic images that were commissioned as part of the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project, as well as photographs that were donated to the project by members of Brooklyn's Latino/a communities. A substantial portion of this series is made up of photographs taken by photographer Tony Velez in the late 1980s, which were commissioned as part of the project. These include images documenting events in Brooklyn's Latino/a communities, including religious festivals, parades, and other community gatherings. Also included are individual and group portraits of various community members. The rest of the series is comprised of photographs donated by various individuals, including family photos, images documenting community life and events, and community organizations. Collectively, these photographs span the years 1924 through 1990.

Return to Top »