CENTRO Announces Free Community Archiving Event for Puerto Rican Heritage Month

CENTRO will share resources with local communities to demystify the process of archiving personal materials and highlight the importance of preserving our shared experiences.

New York, NY – The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (CENTRO) has announced “Preserving Our Heritage: A Weekend of Community Archiving at CENTRO,” a dynamic three-day symposium during Puerto Rican Heritage Month (November) as part of its 50th Anniversary. This event, with the support of The Schomburg Center for Research, Lesbian Herstory, and The Whitney Museum, will take place from Thursday, November 9, 2023 to Saturday, November 11, 2023 at The Silberman School of Social Work Auditorium in El Barrio. The event will be free to enter and open to the community. 

“As we commemorate 50 years of CENTRO’s commitment to preserving the Puerto Rican experience in the United States, we hope to emphasize our collective responsibility to safeguard the stories, memories, and experiences of our communities,” said CENTRO Directora Dr. Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez.

“We believe that heritage preservation should not be confined to institutions alone, it should be accessible to all and we should be part of this process by empowering individuals to share and protect their familial and community histories. Our Puerto Rican heritage is a living history and this event is a crucial chapter in its preservation,” she continued.

“Preserving Our Heritage: A Weekend of Community Archiving at CENTRO” is dedicated to exploring the significance of preserving and documenting the historical memory of diasporic and minority communities, and will include multiple panels and a hands-on workshop. The goal of this symposium is to empower individuals and provide them with the knowledge and tools to initiate their archiving journeys immediately. Historians, community leaders, or those interested in preserving their own heritage are all welcome to join CENTRO to demystify the archiving process. Those interested can RSVP for free here.


Thursday, November 9, 2023

  • Preserving our Heritage: Opening Keynote
    Time: 6:00 PM (Virtual)

    Kick off the weekend of community archiving with a conversation on the importance of guarding our histories. Join CENTRO Directora, Dr. Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez in conversation with Joy Bivins, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on the shared responsibilities, challenges, and joy of archiving such rich and unique communities. This conversation is moderated by Dr. Briona Jones, Assistant Professor of English, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut.

Friday, November 10, 2023:

  • Archiving our Communities
    10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

    Join moderator Barrye Brown of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and panelists Amy Beth from Lesbian Herstory Archives, Azalea Camacho, Head of Special Collections at CAL State LA,  Stephany Bravo, Director of the Archivo310 microlab of the Mellon Diaspora Solidarities Lab, Danica Stompór from the Queens College Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library, and CENTRO Digital Archivist Lindsay Wittwer, as they explore the challenges, rewards, and lessons learned of collecting and documenting their communities’ histories. Each of the Community Archives represented in this panel document unique community experiences that we are excited to learn about.
  • Copyrights for Archival Materials
    11:30 AM – 12:45 PM

    Explore the process of donating and accepting treasured materials and the limitations that exist in the acquisition process. The transfer of archival materials can be difficult, especially considering copyright law.. This panel, moderated by CENTRO Digital Archivist Lindsay Wittwer, brings together Emma E. Frean of the Volunteers Lawyers for the Arts of New York, CENTRO Archivist, Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez, and, Candido Negron, who co-created and donated the HoMoVISIONES collection at CENTRO and learn some of the best practices in archival donations and agreements.
  • Archiving Art
    3:00 PM – 4:15 PM

    In the world of archiving, there’s often not enough contextual information available about collections that include photos, art, manuscripts, and creative works. This lack of data can make it difficult to give credit to the original creators. This panel discussion, moderated by CENTRO Archivist Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez with Farris Wahbeh of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Valerie Irizarry of En Foco, and Daniel Silva of El Museo, addresses  these issues of metadata and citation in arts archives. Panelists will also discuss ethical approaches to  using these treasured resources.

Saturday, November 11, 2023:

  • Preserving our Heritage: Community Archiving Workshop
    10:00 AM

    Jump start your personal archive today! Archiving your materials does not need to wait. Join CENTRO for an introductory workshop on preserving your materials. Bring up to five photographs, letters, or papers that you would like help digitizing! CENTRO Archives staff will help you digitize these items to be stored on your own CENTRO flash drive. 

Additionally, Members of XFR Collective and Community Archiving Workshop will be presenting an overview of audiovisual basics: the history of film and magnetic media (video and audio tape), format risks, and care recommendations. They will then introduce a video digitization setup with the minimum equipment needed to transfer magnetic formats like VHS, Hi8, and digital tape format MiniDV. Attendees will be invited to try out equipment and ask questions. Those who attend will be offered two free media transfers by XFR Collective volunteers, to be scheduled at a later date.