“Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project”
Jennifer Snow, Digital Scholarship, Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, University of Connecticut
The 1898 Spanish-American War resulted in Spain ceding its ownership of Puerto Rico to the United States. 2017 marked the centennial of the Jones Act, assigning collective naturalization for Puerto Ricans. As noted in the website for the Puerto Rican Citizen Archives Project (PRCAP), “This was the first act providing for the collective extension of citizenship to a United States territory that was not meant to become a state of the Union. Yet, the Jones Act was neither the first or last law extending U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico.” The PRCAP project shines a light on the convoluted history of Puerto Rico’s status, as part of a larger project by University of Connecticut Political Sciences Professor Charles R. Venator-Santiago, exploring the nature of U.S. territorial law and policy. The 2018 CRL Primary Source Award for research goes to Jennifer Snow for her contribution to this project.
Professor Venator-Santiago approached the University of Connecticut library in 2016 with an ambitious goal: to centralize copies of all legislative documentation generated in the 119-year history of debates over Puerto Rican citizenship. Beyond simply creating a website aggregating these materials, he wanted to create a resource that would foster new research projects on Puerto Rico and its relationship to the United States.
Working within the library’s Scholars' Collaborative, an initiative helping researchers develop innovative digital projects, Jennifer Snow and Marisol Ramos set up a working group including library programmers Doug Neary and Rick Sarvas. Snow and Ramos cleaned up metadata and designed the website's information architecture, while the programmers implemented the back-end. Professor Venator-Santiago contributed contextual essays and bibliographies on different types of citizenship.
The core legislation contained in the PRCAP archive was initially identified through a reading of the Congressional Research Index (56th Congress to the present) and relevant legislative histories. The primary sources collected for in this project include bills, hearings, amendments, treaties, and laws housed at the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The resulting website features a searchable repository of federal legislation and related texts, as well as contextual essays and resource lists. Additional pedagogical tools are anticipated. The response to the project has been very positive, both within the University of Connecticut community and among scholars of Puerto Rican studies.
The PRCAP is part of a collaboration between the University of Connecticut’s Libraries and El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies; CENTRO: Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York; the Biblioteca y Centro de Investigación Social Jesús T. Piñero, Universidad del Este; Departamento de Ciencias Politicas, Universidad de Puerto Rico; and the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch.