The San Juan Daily Star
Reference room at General Archive named for historian Picó
By The Star Staff
The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP by its Spanish initials) on Thursday named a reference room at the General Archive of Puerto Rico (AGPR) after Fernando Picó, immortalizing the legacy of the historian and writer.
“We are honored to be able to announce the new name of the Reference Room of the General Archive of Puerto Rico, in honor of a great historian such as Fernando Picó. The Archive was like his second home, where he dedicated many hours of research for his most important works,” ICP Director Carlos Ruiz said in a written communication. “Puerto Rico owes Picó a great debt. We hope that with recognitions such as these, they will help this and future generations to better appreciate the important legacy that he left to all Puerto Ricans.”
The AGPR Reference Room is where researchers receive an initial orientation on services and where documents are provided. The room has a reference library where researchers study archived documents.
“Fernando Picó was a tireless defender of the General Archive as an institution and its importance for research in Puerto Rico,” Hilda Teresa Ayala, the general archivist of Puerto Rico. “It is a great honor for us to pay tribute to him in this way.”
The newly named reference room joins the Ricardo Alegría Room, which includes the folklore collection donated by Don Ricardo to the National Library, and the Wenceslao Morales Room, where the photography archive is located, both recently announced. In this way, the ICP continues to recognize the legacy of great cultural curators.
Fernando Picó was a distinguished historian, writer, priest and educator born in 1941 in Santurce.
He pursued a career as a professor at the University of Puerto Rico for more than 40 years, while simultaneously carrying out a religious mission as a Jesuit. His passion for research on the history of Puerto Rico in primary sources and the dissemination of his findings constitute a great legacy to the history of Puerto Rico. In 1979 he published his book “Libertad y servidumbre en el Puerto Rico del siglo 19,” described as a “a masterpiece of the New History in Puerto Rico.”
Picó is considered one of the pioneers of the “New History” school in Puerto Rico, with which he broke with the traditional approach that gave priority to rulers and people in power as protagonists of history.
The new history gave visibility to the working class, slaves, women and figures in history that were not previously studied. One of Picó’s investigations in this movement was “Bitter Coffee: The Small and Medium-Sized Coffee Growers of Utuado in the Second Half of the 19th Century” (1981). In 1987 he published his “General History of Puerto Rico,” which was awarded by the Society of Puerto Rican Authors. His children’s play “La peineta colorada” won first prize at the Pen Club of Puerto Rico in 1992. The Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities distinguished him as “Humanist of the Year” in 2005 and he received the Medal of Culture from the ICP in 2015.