Days of digging through archival collections in all kinds of places will usually turn up one or two documents that give a glimpse of Puerto Rican experiences in Florida at a time when social research attention given to Puerto Ricans in the U.S. was largely focused on northern U.S. communities. In this section, we will from time to time present one such document together with a brief account of its historical context. We invite you pursue the research lines you find in the document and help us to make this a collaborative effort at unearthing Florida Puerto Rican histories. We also invite you to submit your own intriguing discovery that you may have run across in your research.
As an example, here is a document from the Archivo General de Puerto Rico in San Juan (Fondo: Oficina del Gobernador; Tarea: 96-20; Caja 269: Correspondencia General, Emigración, 1932-47). When Robert Gore was inaugurated as Governor of Puerto Rico in 1933, he came to Puerto Rico from Florida and brought a wreath for Ponce de León’s tomb. Although originally from Kentucky, Gore spent his winters in Florida, where he had acquired newspapers. In his inaugural speech, he suggested that bringing Puerto Ricans to Florida was a possible path to resolving both Florida’s need to populate its vast lands and Puerto Rico’s “population problem.” The archives in San Juan have a small collection of letters to Governor Gore from several people of all kinds of backgrounds, each with their own plan for making good on the Governor’s idea.
Uploaded - 2010.
July 5, 1933
Mr. Robert H. Gore
Our Dear Governor:
We every one here signed is head of a big family. Each one of us has a family compound from five to ten kids in each family.
We are ten good American citizen families. Our occupation is agriculture laborers. All catholics and belong to the white people race.
We are sure you are going to send us soon to Florida. We have not property in Porto Rico. We hope to be in Florida in a pretty soon.
God bless your project of prosperity in our country and let you realize the emigration project to Florida. We hope to be the first ten families enlist to emigrate to Florida. We will start to help you in your emigration project. In God we trust that everything will be right.
Yours very truly and fellow citizen.