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Puerto Rico: Hispanic Reading Room Research Guide

Digital Collections and Services

The Library of Congress has over 20 centers that provide research space and guidance for users to interact with collection items based on subject or format. The Hispanic Reading Room curates materials from 61 countries and/or regions in 26 different languages and in varying formats such as books, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and digital objects. The Hispanic Reading Room staff provides access to materials from the General Collections and helps point researchers to relevant items in other reading rooms. Selected digitized primary source materials from the Library’s collections are highlighted below along with links for further exploration.

Folklife, Ethnographic Materials

The Library's American Folklife Center houses one of the largest archives of ethnographic materials from the United States and around the world, which include extensive audiovisual documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions, and oral histories offering researchers access to the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from diverse communities.

The following webcast is an example of one of the many folklife-sponsored live performances presented at the Library of Congress. Gabriel Muñoz & Melodias Borinqueñas is a Puerto Rican folk music group from New Jersey. Using their unique sounds, the group introduces Puerto Rican folk music to the public.

Camilo J. Vergara, photographer. "We will rise" mural detail celebrating Puerto Rico after the 2017 Hurricane Maria. 2020. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Prints, Photographs, Visual Materials

The Library's Prints and Photographs Division is the repository for a rich collection of prints, photographs, and other visual materials on and about Puerto Rico from significant artists and photographers. Many of these items have been digitized and are available to researchers online. Many other visual materials are available to researchers in the Library's Prints & Photographs Reading Room.

Law, Legal Materials

The Law Library of Congress includes a vast collection on foreign legal materials, such as Constitutions, Codes, Session laws, Commentaries and indexes to laws, rules and regulations, Judicial court decisions and reports, and Legal bibliographies.

Access to legal materials related to Puerto Rico are provided by the Law Library, including:

Clara Barton Papers. American National Red Cross; Field operations: Ponce, Puerto Rico. [between 1863-1957]. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Manuscripts, Archival Materials

The Manuscript Division holds approximately sixty million items in eleven thousand separate collections, including some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history and culture and support scholarly research in many aspects of political, cultural, and scientific history. The Library's Manuscript Reading Room provides access to archival materials on and about Puerto Rico, including primary sources from cultural figures, authors, and politicians.

Selected Finding Aids

The selected finding aids linked below describe manuscript collections significant for researching Puerto Rico. Finding aids can be particularly useful when assessing the full contents of a manuscript collection.

Plano de la ciudad de San Juan de Puerto Rico. [Ca. 1770]. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

Cartographic Materials

The Library's Geography and Map Division has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 5000 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats. Many of these materials have been digitized and are available online. Materials that have not been digitized are available from the Geography and Map Reading Room.

Film, Video, Television

The Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division holds one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world, spanning the entire history of cinema. Many of these resources have been digitized and are available online. Access to these collection items, if not digitized, and research assistance is available through the Moving Image Research Center.

The following is an example of a 20th century moving image resource by the Division de Educacion de la Comunidad in Puerto Rico. Modesta (Antonia Hidalgo), a woman from the rural region of the island, rebels against her husband's (Juan Ortiz Jimenez) authoritarianism. She and other women of her community who suffer the same treatment organize the Liberated Women League to fight for their rights.

Leonard Bernstein with military musicians in Puerto Rico. Library of Congress Music Division

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Reading Room (part of the Library's Music Division) provides access to classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.

To hear recordings or interact with audio materials in the Library's collections visit the Recorded Sound Research Center which is part of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

Relacion del viage que hizieron las cinco fragatas de armada de Su Magestad, yendo por cabo dellas Don Pedro Tello de Guzman. 1596. The Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Rare Books, Special Collections

Rare materials about and from Puerto Rico in the Library of Congress collections are vast and filled with treasures. Researchers should visit the the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room to learn more about rare materials available online as well as special collections that contain significant resources on Puerto Rico.