Collection Description

Culture Name

Puerto Ricans (Mainland)

Culture Description

Puerto Ricans referred to in this collection are descendants of people from the island of Puerto Rico who migrated from the island to the mainland United States. Puerto Rican migration to the United States began in the late nineteenth century. Puerto Ricans are distinguished among U.S. ethnic minorities by the fact that since 1917 they have migrated to the mainland as citizens of the United States.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Regional, Ethnic and Diaspora Cultures


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Puerto Ricans (Mainland) file consists of 49 English language documents, focused primarily on the Puerto Rican population of New York City from approximately the mid nineteenth century to the late 1980s. Although there is no single comprehensive work to cover all of the mainland Puerto Ricans, a brief overview dealing primarily with demographics, household income, economic gains, and poverty levels will be found in Rivera-Batiz (1996, no. 49). For a broad general coverage of the Puerto Rican population in New York City, see Rodríguez (c. 1991, no. 1), Fitzpatrick (1987, no. 2), Sánchez Korrol (1983, no. 3), Chenault (1938, no. 4), and Padilla (1958, no. 6). These documents cover the time period from 1900 - mid 1950s. Ethnographic themes dealing with migration, education, politics and political behavior, bilingualism, social problems, prejudice, labor and labor relation, socio-cultural change, assimilation, and religion appear in varying degrees in nearly all the works in this file. In addition there are certain topics given particular attention in this file, these being: spiritism in Harwood (1987, no. 8), Figueroa (1982, no. 23), Garrison (1977, no. 44); the drug culture in East Harlem, New York City, in Bourgois (1996, 1995, nos. 39 and 40); indigenous urban renewal projects in Sciorra (1996, nos. 52 and 53); social movements dealing primarily with environmental problems, and new uses of solar and wind energy, in Chodorkoff (1980, no. 25); and women's roles in the garment industry in Benmayor (1988, no. 37), Ortiz (1996, no. 47), and Vazquez Erazo (1988, nos. 58 and 60).

Where general information is presented on social and economic conditions on the island of Puerto Rico as a background for an understanding of mainland Puerto Rican ethnography, this information will appear in the NK05 Puerto Ricans (Mainland) file in the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) category 170.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding earch document.

The culture summary was written by Arlene Torres in September 2001. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in September 2001.

Overview by

John Beierle

alternative technology -- category 371

alternative technology movements -- category 318 and other relevant categories

ASPIRA -- an organization to promote education among Puerto Ricans -- categories 814, 871

ATAQUES (or ATAQUE DE NERVIOS) -- "the Puerto Rican Syndrome"; an expression of intense grief or anger in which a woman screams, falls to the floor, shakes, etc.; a form of induced hysteria sometimes attributed to spirits -- categories 786, 158, 787

BODEGAS (COLMADOS) -- grocery stores -- categories 444, 443; as structures , 347

BOLITEROS -- numbers game operators -- categories 525, 554

CAUSA -- a disembodied spirit that molests the living -- category 776

CENTROS -- spiritist "churches" -- category 794

CHARAS -- a group involved in vacant lot reclamation -- category 318

code-switching--category 191

COLONIA -- an urban nucleus marked by dense settlements -- category 361

consensual unions -- categories 583, 588

CUANDO -- Cultural Understanding and Neighborhood Development Organization; a youth run organization which sponsors a variety of cultural and education programs involved in passive solar heat in New York City, as well as windowbox greenhouses, and solar cold frames for gardening -- category 318

DESFILE -- parades -- category 541

EL BLOQUE--a city block--category 621

EL PROGRAMA ROBERTO CLEMENTE -- a service organization offering employment and housing opportunities to Puerto Ricans -- category 747

eleventh street movement -- a block association made up of tenant co-operatives involved in renovation of abandoned tenements -- categories 318, 362

environmental movements -- categories 318, 362, 369 (plus other relevant categories)

ESPIRITISTA -- see spiritist

FAMILIA UNIDA -- an extended family that acknowledges belonging to a "great" family -- category 596

LA BOLITA -- the numbers game -- category 525


LIMPIEZA -- spiritual clean-up -- category 783

MEND -- Massive Economic Neighborhood Development Program -- category 179 (sometimes 657 as well)

model city program (as related to Puerto Ricans) -- categories 657, 369

mutual aid societies -- category 456

Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico -- categories 657, 647

Puerto Rican Brotherhood of America -- category 575

Puerto Rican Community Development Project -- category 179

Puerto Rican Family Institute -- category 747

Puerto Rican Forum -- category 814

relations between mainland and island communities -- category 619

REUNION -- a ceremony or ritual done at a CENTRO -- category 755

SANTIGUADORES -- specialists in setting bones and in curing a form of indigestion called EMPACHO -- categories 756, 759

spanglish (Nayorican) -- a form of pidgin English-Spanish -- category 198

spiritism -- as a system of religious beliefs -- category 771

spiritist (or spiritualist) -- a practitioner who believes in mediumistic communication and the removal of harmful spiritual influences through the intervention of mediums -- categories 756, 791

tenant's cooperatives -- categories 476, 362

the New Deal -- categories 179, 185

TRABAJITO -- a spell or ritual -- categories 754, 789

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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