He General Archive of Puerto Rico It is, in many ways, the memory palace of Puerto Ricanness. Contained in its large rooms and thousands of boxes, the history of Puerto Rico is stored in the documents, letters, articles, books, photos, sounds and videos that hundreds of historians, academics and citizens have used to research and then add chapters. to the narrative that shapes the country and identity.
“The General Archive has all the documentation of historical value produced by the Government of Puerto Rico. The oldest book that we have, which is called the Acts of the council of the city of San Juan, a series of writings that records how Puerto Rico became Puerto Rico, and we are talking about since 1722 and we have documents from up to 10 years ago from an incredible number of agencies, from the Department of Health, from the Police,” explained its director. Hilda Teresa Ayala Gonzalez.
Since its founding in 1955, the Archive has been one of the most important spaces in the preservation and care of the materials that shaped the country. But beyond its function as a source of materials for academic study, it also serves a civil role of great importance.
“We have documents on everything that has to do with the economic development of the country, social development, political development. The General Archive is also the depository of everything known as notarial protocols, that is, the books produced by lawyers where our deeds are, which are more than 60 years old, also reach the General Archive of Puerto Rico. And these are used on a daily basis by citizens to carry out their legal claims, their wills, suggestions, etc.,” said the archivist.
According to what Leida Santiago wrote for a special publication carried out during the 65th anniversary of the Archive, the idea of a general Puerto Rican archive was managed from La Fortaleza by Governor Luis Munoz Marin and had the support of politicians and the intellectuals of the epoch.
Data available on its official website goes into detail about some of its contents. The Music and Sound Archive, for example, contains 15 thousand pieces of music by more than 700 composers and 10,000 recordings. As for sheet music, there are over 1,000 pieces in the public domain by more than 400 authors such as Braulio Dueno Colon, Fernando Callejo, Hector Campos Parsi, Jaime Pericas, Juan Morel Campos, Manuel G. Tavarez, Maria Teresa Lara, Monserrate Ferrer, Rafael Duchesne , Simon Madera and Tomas Milan.
“It also maintains a very vast collection of not only textual documents, but also audio of the first musical recordings from Puerto Rico in our history. We have photographic documentation. These photographs capture the evolution of the country from our agricultural development, our development of modernization. And we also have an audiovisual collection of videos, so that not only can people learn about its history by reading a document, but they can also learn about this history by watching photographs, listening to audio or watching a video that includes important moments and figures such as Pablo Casals, we have Pura Belprewho is a librarian, and many other events within the country,” said Ayala Gonzalez.
The director emphasized that the monetary value of the Archive’s contents is incalculable, since each piece is unique.
The building also contains the National Library of Puerto Ricowhich is responsible for protecting all publications made in the country.
“The archive has over 90,000 cubic feet of documents. There are millions of documents. It has more than 10,000 audiovisual resources, over 500,000 photographs, more than 40,000 scores and music objects as well. It is also there what is known as the Police folders. We have extraordinary resources. And the most important thing is that they are unique in the country. In the General Archive, what exists, exists only in that space“, he explained.
Almost 70 years since its founding, the General Archive of Puerto Rico has demonstrated its undeniable importance as a resource to safeguard Puerto Rican memory and, according to Ayala Gonzalez, this is a task that all the people who work there take very seriously.
“We go out of our way for that Archive and for that Library, because we recognize that what we have is unique, is precious and belongs to the people of Puerto Rico and we assume the responsibility of ensuring that not only these generations, but the next ones, can also to have and enjoy this same benefit, this same right of access to information, access to our history, access to our culture,” he said.
As explained by the director, the archive services are available to all people interested in learning more about the history of the country, especially for those who wish to consult primary sources for their research, productions or publications. For guidance and to request services, you can contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The General Archive and National Library of Puerto Rico faced an electrical failure on October 27, affecting the power supply. The ICP assured that it is taking measures to address the emergency, working on energizing the building and cooling it. The director of the General Archive, Hilda Teresa Ayala Gonzalez, detailed steps, including energy stabilization and gradual air conditioning to preserve historical documents.