Centro Library and Archives Historical Preservation and Research Partnership Program Fall 2016-Spring 2017

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library and Archives seeks Partners to collect, archival material, conduct research, and disseminate new knowledge about the history of Puerto Rican individuals in communities in the United States.

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Centro Library


The migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States extends over a period of more than 150 years. Political exiles, artisans, cigar workers, merchants, students and others had been settling in New York since the last third of the 19th century.

In 1917, both the granting of citizenship and the need for workers during World War I increased the migratory flow. By 1930, there were over 50,000 Puerto Ricans in New York City.

This is a brief chronology of key dates in the history of Puerto Rican migration to the U.S. and the history of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. A more comprehensive chronology of Puerto Ricans in New York City will be available on the Centro website this Winter.

 Photo Source: The Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (unless specified).  


Junta Revolucionaria
(standing) Manuel Besosa, Aurelio Méndez Martínez, y Sotero Figueroa  (seated) Juan de M. Terreforte, D. Jose Julio Henna y Roberto H. Todd Source: La Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico 
Puerto Rican flag designed in New York City by Puerto Rican exiles fighting to end Spanish colonial rule on the island.

"Our Flag Raised in Puerto Rico"
The New York Times, July 27, 1898

War declared between Spain
and the United States.

The Spanish American Cuban War ends with the Treaty of Paris placing Puerto Rico under American control.

General Nelson Miles, who led the invasion of the island, changes the spelling of Puerto Rico to Porto Rico. U.S. officials and writers continued using it until 1932.

Governor Charles Allen and his cabinet,
Hollander, Garrison, Hunt, Elliot,
Brumbaugh and Russell
Source: La Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
The Foraker Act establishes a civilian government in Puerto Rico and makes all U.S. federal laws effective on the island.


Source: The San Juan News,
January 6, 1904

"Porto Ricans are not Aliens"
U.S. Supreme Court decides that Puerto Ricans can travel to the United States freely without going through immigration. The case of Isabel Gónzalez, was brought forth by a woman who arrived to New York City in 1902 and had been detained at Ellis Island.

"Mr. Yager announces The Bill Jones
will be signed tomorrow, March 2nd"

The United States enters
World War I.

The Jones Act:
Puerto Ricans are made U.S. citizens.

Joaquin Colón with his family
(Olimpia, Joaquin, Joaquin Jr. and Mauricio)

Founding of the Club Democrático de Brooklyn led by J.V. Alonso and Joaquin Colón. Later one is also founded in Harlem led by Domingo Collazo and J. C. Cebollero.

  Liga Puertorriqueña e Hispana,
The Jesús Colón Papers

Liga Puertorriqueña e Hispana

at Wadleigh High School in Manhattan.


Republican candidate Victor Fiol Ramos runs for City Council in the 17th district (Spanish Harlem), but does not win.

The Employment & Identification Office
Migration Division

The Employment & Identification Office opens as a branch of the Government of Puerto Rico's Department of Labor on 116th Street in New York City. It is under the direction of J.M. Vivaldi.

Application for a Certificate
of Identification

The Puerto Rican legislature approves changing the use of "Porto Rico" to its original spelling of Puerto Rico. Congress ratifies the change.

García Rivera campaign flyer,
The Oscar García Rivera Papers
Finding Aid available

Oscar García Rivera is elected to the State Assembly. He becomes the first stateside Puerto Rican elected to political office in the United States.

Piñeiro visits City Hall

Jesús T. Piñeiro becomes the first
Puerto Rican Governor of Puerto Rico designated by President Harry S. Truman.


Cabranes and Inez Mendoza de Muñoz


Bureau of Employment and Migration of the Government of Puerto Rico opens in New York City on December 5, 1947. Manuel Cabranes serves as its first Director.


   Muñoz Marin campaign photo

Luis Muñoz Marin becomes the first Puerto Rican elected Governor of Puerto Rico.

Government seal of Puerto Rico

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico created.


Torres campaign poster,
The Felipe N. Torres Papers
Finding Aid available

Felipe N. Torres wins seat in the New York State Assembly, representing the Bronx (Morrisania and Mott Haven). He receives the support of the Bronx Democratic machine.

Valentín with Congreso de Pueblos,
Puerto Rican Day Parade

Attempts to eliminate English test for voting started by Congress of Puerto Rican Hometowns, led by Gilberto Gerena Valentín, and the Association of Puerto Rican Lawyers. The tests were abolished by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Badillo campaign flyer

Herman Badillo becomes Borough President of the Bronx. He is the first Puerto Rican to hold this position.

"Boricuas Ocupan Colegio en el Bronx"
Source: El Diario La Prensa,
18 de febrero de 1970

City University of New York (CUNY) students take over City College to demand Open Admissions, Puerto
Rican Studies programs and more inclusion of Puerto Rican faculty, staff and students.

Herman Badillo, Evelina López Antonetty and Jose Serrano,
Records of United Bronx Parents, Inc.

Badillo becomes the first Puerto Rican (voting member) elected to Congress. He represents the Bronx.

PRLDEF 1991 Annual Report cover,
Records of PRLDEF

Puerto Rican Legal Defense and
Education Fund (PRLDEF) founded

Aspira Leadership Program patch

Aspira of New York City vs. Board of Education of the City of New York. The settlement of this case led to the Aspira consent decree which mandated bilingual education to k-12 students in New York City.

Centro 20 years anniversary poster
The Centro Papers
Finding Aid available
Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (Centro) founded.