CENTRO Archives Collection Development Policy


The mission of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (CENTRO Archives) is to document the history of Puerto Rican communities throughout the United States. As stewards of these materials of enduring historical value, the Archives fosters inquiry, critical thinking and knowledge building through active engagement with our collections. 

General Scope

The Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora is committed to preserving materials created by individuals, organizations, and other entities as part of Puerto Rican communities in the United States in their original form, whether that is analog or digital. We aim to serve the research needs of students, scholars, and community members. To this end, the CENTRO Archives actively engages in donor stewardship and collection development in order to build its archival holdings for use by all researchers to preserve these materials for future generations.

Principles of collection development

  • Access. Materials are collected so that they may be used by any researcher regardless of background, research interest, educational attainment, or research goal. CENTRO supports the free exchange of ideas and information by promoting the widest possible access to our materials.
  • Documentation. Cultivating compelling evidence requires expertise on content and context. Stewards appraise potential acquisitions to determine which materials provide meaningful evidence of ideas, communities, values, and experiences. Stewards select materials so that communities may see themselves in the past by engaging with evidence found in archives. The Archives promote accountability; material evidence documents, reflects, and challenges assumptions about past knowledge and experience.
  • Inclusion. Collecting requires engaging in multi-voiced, inclusive perspective, broadening known networks, and being deliberate in the expansion of voices represented in the CENTRO archives’ holdings.
  • Decolonization. Developing collections on the Puerto Rican Diaspora requires identifying and reflecting on what colonial legacies, ideas and practices require dismantling and radical transformation. As part of this practice, CENTRO Archives strives to ensure collections remain within the communities in which they were created and facilitate identifying appropriate repositories within said communities.
  • Contextuality. Researchers benefit from access to collections archives that constitute dense networks of connected ideas, activities, historical actors, and work. The CENTRO Archives believes that these contexts enhance the research value of these materials, which is an important consideration in acquisitions decisions.
  • Reliability. The evidentiary value of archives requires transparent and shared understanding of how and why they were created, selected, and maintained. Sources of materials (including donors) must be responsible for documenting and disclosing materials provenance and any events that may complicate their authenticity.
  • Responsibility. Responsible stewardship requires full consideration of the ecosystem of materials already in our care to ensure that the CENTRO Archives maintains the resource capacity to collect and steward materials indefinitely.
  • Preservation. Access to materials over generations is only possible through the thoughtful stewardship of physical and digital content. CENTRO Archives will make reasonable efforts to ensure the preservation of materials held by the archives into the future.

Collecting Areas

The Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora collects personal papers, organizational records, audiovisual materials, and artwork of Puerto Ricans or about Puerto Ricans in the Diaspora. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal reflections on life, work, or important events
  • Diaries and journals, personal correspondence (paper and email), memoirs, scrapbooks and other memory books, blogs, recordings of conversations or events
  • Documentation of an artist or writer’s creative process
  • Drafts of writing, sketches and other preparatory artwork, artists’ statements
  • Direct evidence of significant events or work in the life of a person or organization
  • Photographs, press releases, speeches and other prepared remarks, unique research materials (e.g., datasets, fieldwork, interviews)
  • Evidence of the friendship, love, and family networks that influence an individual
  • Correspondence, social media, documentation of family life, photographs
  • Documentation that elucidates an organization’s composition and priorities
  • Founding charters, organizational charts, grant proposals, strategic plans, project plans, documentation of decision making (e.g., meeting notes, correspondence, reports)

Strengths and Focuses

The strengths of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora include, government and politics, community activism, education policy and bilingual education, labor, literature, poetry, music, dance, visual arts, photography and theater, with particular geographic focuses on New York City and surrounding areas. The Archives has significant holdings of oral history projects documenting communities in New York City, central Florida, California, Chicago and Philadelphia. CENTRO also holds the records of the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States, which extensively documents migration stateside throughout the 20th Century. 

What We Don’t Collect 

Below are the areas and resources that we either do not collect or are no longer collecting. Materials we do not accept generally fall into three broad categories: materials better suited to other repositories (noted in parentheticals), short-term or active records, and materials duplicative of our current holdings. On occasion, there may be types of electronic records or born digital content that we are unable to accept. 

  • Collections predominantly focused on the island of Puerto Rico.
  • Collections covering the broader United States Latine communities without a significant Puerto Rican focus.
  • Plaques, awards, and trophies
  • Large items that are better suited for museum displays
  • Materials exhibiting mold or exposure to rodents/pests 
  • Severely damaged or extremely fragile items
  • Material unrelated to or outside of our collecting areas
  • Materials to which access is restricted in perpetuity or for a period of time deemed by the Archives staff to be beyond a reasonable limitation
  • Personnel files of employees
  • Raw electronic big research data
  • More than three duplicate copies of items 
  • Most serial publications
  • Human and animal remains


Deaccessioning is an essential function and tool of collection development and curation. Material selected to be deaccessioned may be returned to the donor (based on donor agreements), gifted/transferred to a more appropriate repository, or discarded. In identifying materials for deaccessioning (whether organized and described or not) the Archives staff considers the following:

  • Does the material in question fall within the scope of our collection development policy and collecting practices?
  • Has the material deteriorated in such a way that it cannot be reproduced or is beyond being useful due to its condition? 
  • Have the materials been subjected to poor environmental conditions, resulting in mold, water damage, fire damage, or show evidence of being exposed to rodents/pests?  
  • Do any established externally imposed restrictions apply to the material?