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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Pact signed to digitize island historical documents located in mainland US

By The Star Staff

The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP) on Tuesday announced the signing of a collaborative agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for the digitization of historical documents about Puerto Rico that are located in the mainland United States.

The agreement was signed by ICP Director Carlos Ruiz Cortés and Archivist General of the United States Colleen Shogan. To mark the agreement, a formal ceremony was held at the NARA Research Center in Washington, D.C., in which the acting archivist of the United States, William Bosanko; Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Executive Director Luis Dávila Pernas and the general archivist of Puerto Rico, Hilda Ayala González, participated.

With the alliance, the ICP will seek to identify and digitize historical sources located outside of Puerto Rico to promote greater access to shared documentary heritage. The project is possible thanks to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Puerto Rico, which is in its second phase, for “Cultural Rescue.”

“We continue to seek new access to information about Puerto Rico and expand the fundamental knowledge of our history,” Ruiz Cortés said in a written statement. “This information will be available both in the NARA online catalog and in the digital repository of the General Archive of Puerto Rico. This important digitization project adds to the one already carried out with the Ministry of Spain and the one we have with Family Search.”

The documents that are to be digitized represent only a sample of the great wealth of collections that are found outside the island and that are fundamental to understanding the relationships that have developed between Puerto Rico and the United States since 1898. During the selection of NARA collections, specialized personnel participated in the evaluation of documents, and part of the ICP work team, in addition to the executive director and the general archivist of Puerto Rico, included as evaluators the former director of the Arts Support Office, Albeyra Rodríguez and the coordinator of academic and virtual affairs, Pablo Crespo.

“This collaborative agreement also represents a commitment on the part of the National Archives to increase and improve access to the collections they guard through the inclusion of documentation from Puerto Rico in their internal digitization plans, reaffirming the importance of these efforts that we are carrying out together for the benefit of our communities of researchers,” said Ayala González, the island’s general archivist.

The digitization work, which began in February, is expected to be completed in November of this year, through the services of a company specialized in documentary heritage.

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