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Guide to Puerto Rican Oral History Project records 1976.001

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Morgen Stevens-Garmon under the supervision of Chela Scott Weber, with revision by Brett Dion

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

Administrative History

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

Of the first sixty-nine interviews, nine were conducted between April and August 1973 before the project was shelved until 1974. The 1973 interviews were usually conducted in paired teams by Elba Correa, Mayda Cortiella, Pedro Rivera, Tomas Rivera, Ms.Torres, and Ms. Ruiz. Other than their names, little information is available about these interviewers. When the project resumed in January of 1974, it had difficulty retaining staff. Project coordinator Anthony Cucchiara hired two college students to conduct interviews. These students left the project after one month having conducted only one interview. They were replaced by Roberto Rosado, an instructor at NYCCC, who was able to carry out two interviews before leaving the project in May 1974. In June, another instructor from NYCCC, Monte Rivera, another NYCCC instructor conducted an additional seven interviews over the course of one month before resigning. Finally, Jaime Barreto, a Brooklyn Public School Coordinator, and John Vazquez conducted the remaining fifty interviews that comprised the project's original scope.

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

The interview with José Ramón Giboyeaux in the original scope was transcribed only. Two interviews in the original scope were found to have no extant content on audiotape or in transcription. It is not known whether interviews with Rosendo Acosta or Gregorio Martínez were erased by accident or entirely redacted on purpose.

Of the interviews done as part of Mr. Vazquez's course at NYCCC, four participants carried over from the original sixty-nine. Transcripts of two interviews in this series were possibly made as a result of the loan to Hunter College. Besides these two transcripts the rest of the interviews recorded for Mr. Vazquez's course are not transcribed. In 1983, four additional interviews were added to the collection, in transcript form only.

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