When you visit the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s webpage and read the description of what we do, you’ll find a reference to additions to our collection of documents acquired in 2002 from The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. Although HSP has excelled in keeping and providing access to valuable documents about American colonial history, we do hold collections pertaining to Latino (or Hispanics) groups that have settled in Pennsylvania. The additions from The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies add even more records to HSP’s holdings related to the Latino experience in Pennsylvania, particularly that of organizations and individuals established in the Philadelphia area.
As a guide to researchers interested in subjects connected to Latinos in United States, or collections with papers produced by persons associated with major events in Latin America, we offer an inventory (by no means exhaustive) of what we at HSP have.
The John Rutter Brooke papers (Collection 0078) contain, among other things, documents about his roles as an important military commander during the Hispanic-American War, and as military governor of Puerto Rico and Cuba. The Joseph Sill Clark papers (Collection 1958) feature documents related to the 1965 US invasion and occupation of the Dominican Republic, and memorandums pertaining to Argentina’s 1960’s political situation. Sill Clark was mayor of Philadelphia and served as United States senator from Pennsylvania. The Adolfo Fernández Cavada diary (Collection Am .6956) was written while serving as Captain with the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 23rd Regiment; and includes a detailed personal account of the Battle of Gettysburg. Fernandez Cavada was one of three brothers born in Cienfuegos, Cuba who later joined the Union Army. Puerto Rico legal and government papers (Collection 0518) is an assortment of licenses to masters of vessels, passports, copies of government rules, regulations regarding ports, and similar legal documents issued by the Puerto Rican government.
Among the collections describing the Latino experience in Philadelphia we can mention the Nelson A. Diaz papers (Collection 3079), featuring documents produced while working as a Philadelphia attorney who served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and as general counsel for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. We also have the records for the Spanish Merchants Association of Philadelphia (MSS114), founded in 1970 by Puerto Rican businessmen in Philadelphia to distribute Minority Business Development Agency funds in the Latino community; the Puerto Rican Week Festival records (MSS119), produced by the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia; records for the Pennsylvania branch of Aspira, Inc. (MSS148); records for the Philadelphia Center of The League of United Latin American Citizens (Collection MSS149), founded in Texas as an advocacy group to increase educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans; papers for the Post #840 of the American Legion in Philadelphia (MSS165), whose membership was primarily Puerto Rican; The Latino Project records (MSS117), headed by attorney Luis P. Diaz, provided legal assistance and representation to Spanish-speaking groups and interests in Greater Philadelphia area; the Hispanic Federation for Social and Economic Development records (MSS116), non-profit organization serving Puerto Ricans and Latinos in Philadelphia; records for Fifth Street Merchants Association (MSS118), formed in 1975 to represent the interests of merchants within the so-called “Golden Block,” the Fifth Street corridor bordered by Lehigh Avenue and Allegheny Avenue in North Philadelphia; and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia records (MSS120), organized in 1962 as a liaison between the Spanish-speaking and non-Latino communities, and intended to coordinate existing Spanish organizations and to create new programs and activities for their constituents.
It’s worth pointing out that the Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds thousands of documents on the history of United Sates in general, and on Pennsylvania in particular. Hence, this is only a small sample of collections that may contain materials about Latinos in United States.