The Latin American Microform Project (LAMP), has supported the digitization of approximately 5,000 Puerto Rican Court documents dated between 1844 and 1900. These consist of legal court cases, mostly civil, from the Corte de Primera Instancia (appellate court) of the district of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In 2000, the University of Connecticut Thomas J. Dodd Research Center acquired these unique materials about the Arecibo appellate court district, which includes the towns of Arecibo, Barceloneta, Camuy, Ciales, Hatillo, Manatí, Morovis, Quebradillas, and Utuado.
The cases cover the full range of civil litigation that might have been brought to court during that period. Cases about disputes over economic holdings such as land, slaves, and livestock hold special interest. The collection is also a treasure trove for genealogists, historians, legal researchers, and other social-sciences researchers interested in understanding Puerto Rico’s social dynamic during the 19th century.
In 2008, the University of Connecticut received an inquiry from the General Archives of Puerto Rico regarding this collection. The Archives stated that this collection belonged to one of two 19th-century archival fonds, from the Arecibo district under their custody. In addition, the General Archives believed that these records should be returned to Puerto Rico based upon Puerto Rican Law #5 (1955), and its amendments, which established the General Archives and mandated that all Spanish colonial records be deposited at the General Archives. However, the Archives had neither the legal power nor proof to substantiate the claim that the records belonged to the Puerto Rican government. Therefore, they requested that the University of Connecticut photocopy the entire collection so that they could add it to their fonds to fill the gap in their incomplete Arecibo holdings. With LAMP’s funding assistance, the University of Connecticut has digitized all 11,254 pages of the collection.