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Mellon Foundation grants $1M to Rutgers/Puerto Rico Archival Collaboration

This funding will enhance the ongoing efforts to preserve and make accessible important collections and periodical publications.

The Rutgers/Puerto Rico Archival Collaboration recently announced that the Mellon Foundation, through its Presidential Initiatives, has awarded a $1 million grant to support the PRAC’s work over the next three years.

This funding will enhance the ongoing efforts to preserve and make accessible important archival collections and periodical publications from Puerto Rico. It will fund interns, workshops, and publishing for three years, and will support a conference on Puerto Rican history.

The grant also provides support for the training of young scholars in the humanities, the PRAC officials said.

“This support from the Mellon Foundation is a testament to the importance of preserving and interpreting Puerto Rico’s rich history,” said Aldo Lauria-Santiago, director of the Rutgers University Center for Latin American Studies. “We’re thrilled to continue our collaboration with our partners and expand the accessibility of these invaluable archives.”

In March 2022, Lauria-Santiago began a collaboration with sister institutions in Puerto Rico. This project aims to preserve crucial historical materials and facilitate research on Puerto Rico’s history.

The PRAC began with the Colección Puertorriqueña of the University of Puerto Rico Library, its Digital Collections held at the Colección Digital Puertorriqueña, and the General Archive and National Library of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña.

Since its inception, the PRAC has attracted several partners that have “significantly bolstered its impact,” including:

  • Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades: Extended digitization work at the General Archive of Puerto Rico (AGPR, in Spanish).
  • Arte Público Press’ Latino Digital Humanities Program: Supported the inclusion of migration-related materials in the digitization efforts at the AGPR.
  • Partnerships with the Yale Program in Ethnicity, Race and Migration; the University of Connecticut’s Puerto Rican Studies Initiative; and contributions from professors Zaire Dinzey Flores and Ismael García-Colon.

The Mellon Foundation’s grant will further advance these efforts, supporting the preservation and accessibility of Puerto Rican archival materials. This funding will enable the PRAC to:

  • Create and make accessible guides, finding aids and catalogs.
  • Expand collaboration sites beyond the AGPR and Colección Puertorriqueña of the UPR Library.
  • Enhance the digitization of valuable collections.
  • Train and assign more than 30 interns and support their professional goals.
  • Provide opportunities for interpretive essays on the collections and archival materials shared in the process, both by interns and established scholars.
  • Facilitate research access to these resources.
  • Develop frameworks for studying 20th-century Puerto Rican public records.

Sofía Feliciano will serve as PRAC manager in Puerto Rico, and the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University will receive support to enhance the grant’s administration.

The PRAC will continue to work with the AGPR and the Colección Puetorriqueña of the UPR Library, but its efforts will now include a dozen new archival sites, Lauria-Santiago said.

“PRAC is actively seeking additional partners, including foundations, researchers, and institutions with an interest in Puerto Rican history and the preservation of the archival record. These collaborations are vital for leveraging resources, enhancing research capabilities, and achieving mutual goals,” he added.

The program also organizes a summer internship program for graduate students, providing hands-on experience in archival work and fostering the next generation of scholars in Puerto Rican studies.

The Mellon Foundation grant will allow the program to fund multiple graduate students from the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico in the summers of 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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