Following up on BlackProGen LIVE’s Episode #31: People of Color in the Northeast and New Jersey, I offer a brief compilation of archival websites that can be helpful for locating additional details for genealogy and family history of Latinx & Caribbean POC in New York and New Jersey.
First, a little background….
Over time, as archives develop along with the growth of communities, a variety of materials can be located within state and city library systems, universities and institutions. New York and New Jersey have a number of significant archival repositories, of which some collections can be searched on line, and to gain the most, arrange for an in-person visit. Plan to check them out after exhausting initial sources such as census and vital records.
Why this matters for your family history…
Migration occurs in waves: interviewing elders and others within your family network may ease the process of where to look for records, and determining when ancestors turn up in a given location. During the nineteenth and early-mid twentieth centuries, voluntary migration began, and metropolitan areas offered opportunities for work, housing and education that many moved to, in hope of bettering their family’s situation, if not simply to resolve issues of flat out survival. This cycle was driven by the needs of labor and industry, and people clustered in small overlapping ethnic communities. Upheaval of a system, whether due to war, political instability or economic collapse can be part of the larger context of why ancestors moved to New York, New Jersey and other locations.
Understanding this larger context will help you as you write your family history.
As Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova note in their article on “Caribbean Immigrants in the United States”: “In 2014, approximately 4 million immigrants from the Caribbean resided in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the nation’s 42.4 million immigrants. More than 90 percent of Caribbean immigrants came from five countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago”[1.] Some movement to the states was due to restrictions on immigration instituted by British government on former colonies. The Haitian diaspora began in the 1920s-1930s, and New York City has the largest and oldest concentration of Haitians in the US. 
Each country’s history varies in terms of who and why different groups of people arrived and departed its shores. The reasons why can give additional clues for tracing your family’s movement across the globe.
Note that diasporic movement of populations means potential family connections can extend worldwide. Take a look at the interactive map on Migration Information – it provides information on contemporary migrations by country, depicted on maps, along with reports on different populations.
Hunter College: Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños
Has Online Public Access Catalog: https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/
Records of the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States, 1930-1933
https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/faids/pdf/OGPRUS.pdfThis 88 page guide in English and Spanish, includes community organizations, education programs 1943-1989, applications for Certificates of Identification 1930-1989, needed for Puerto Ricans to work in NYC. Note: the application records can include photographs and thumbprints.
As discussed on the program, if there are activists among your ancestors, then it’s likely that there are records from government agencies such as the FBI.
Ramon Bosque Perez’ testimony before Congressional Briefing gives an overview of the archival material held at Centro, which covers four decades. (The URL is long, so you may have to cut and paste into your browser.)
NYPL- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
Also, there’s a 1938 digitized manuscript, “Influence of the Haitian Revolution on N.Y”., also at the Schomburg, along with other archival materials from the Caribbean.
Lapidus Center for the Study of Transatlantic Slavery
Also has Livestream events for new books, and a podcast.
Guide to Puerto Rican Records at the National Archives, NYC– 94 pages
RG 186- Puerto Rico Records of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845
New Jersey is home to the seventh largest Latino population in the US, which increased nearly 40% between 2000-2010.
Library of Congress: Resources for local history and genealogy:
Newark Public Library
Puerto Rican Community Archives
Latino Oral History
BYU Guide on NJ (Ethnic identity not specified)
dLOC: Digital Library of the Caribbean
A great overview on Afro-Caribbean Immigration in NARA’s Prologue:
Damani Davis’ “Ancestors from the West Indies: A Historical and Genealogical Overview of Afro-Caribbean Immigration, 1900-1930s.”
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
West Indian Ladies Aid Society, 1915-1965
Benevolent society open to ‘all female Virgin Islanders; provided assistance with medical and funeral expenses.
Background information on history of sugar in Dominican Republic and Haitian workers, which contextualizes the impetus for migration:
“History.” Visions of Haiti: Documentaries of the Dominican Sugar Industry
Cyndi’s List- Caribbean/ West Indies
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands
Felix Matos-Rodriguez & Pedro Juan Hernandez, Pioneros: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1892-1998. Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 2001.
Virginia Sanchez Korrol & Pedro Juan Hernandez, Pioneros II: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1948-1995. Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
Virginia E. Sanchez Korrol, From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1917-1948. Greenwood Press, 1983.
Jesse Hoffnung-Garsof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950. Princeton University Press, 2007.
Regine O. Jackson, Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora. New York: Routledge, 2011.