Puerto Rican Hartford
From Amanda Guzman
We continue our speaker series with Elena Rosario, a current PhD candidate in History at the University of Michigan and emerging public historian interested in the post war settlement of Puerto Ricans in Connecticut beginning in the early 1950's.
She enters the class conversation as we continue a section on community with a topic closer to home - Hartford - as the site of the Trinity College campus and as the capitol of the state of Connecticut from which some of our class hails. This transition to our local context is a critical counterpoint to earlier discussions of traditional urban sites of diaspora like New York and Chicago with the perspective of farm worker migrants.
Moving between archival photographs, newspaper reports, and agency memos, Rosario narrates the multi-decade Puerto Rican shift from island migrant to Connecticut resident. Outlining the Farm Labor Program, she contextualizes the birth of Connecticut's diaspora within the historical milieu of Operation Bootstrap and the emergence of local agencies (i.e. Connecticut Shade Tobacco Growers Agricultural Association and the Migration Division) as promoting the migration of Puerto Rican male heads of household who had experience with agricultural hard labor.
Rosario describes how although Puerto Rican permanent settlement was never an intended policy goal, Puerto Ricans began to form community networks that continue to persist today. Despite language and housing discrimination, Puerto Ricans organized locally around social issues such as bilingual education as well as group events, most notably, the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The conclusion of the talk, grounded in Rosario's entangling of personal experience and research, drew the students into a larger discussion about the legacies of silences in the archives, community-engaged practice and the implications of positionality as a scholar.
- Amanda Guzman
To learn more about Elena Rosario's work:
Indexing work completed by Trinity undergraduates, Lindsay Dowty and Claire Leamon. To access the indexing chapters for this talk, click the icon at the top left of the video.