It will be the result of deep-dive research immersing 18 Philly residents in more than 1,000 documents, photographs, cassettes, maps, surveys, manuscripts: an online exhibit recording the milestones and migration of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community.

The collaborative project between Philly’s Taller Puertorriqueño and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has for the last 16 months poured through both organizations’ collections, with participants providing feedback as to which elements would help tell the story of how Puerto Ricans influenced local politics, business, and media.

“In this program, we’ve learned about the shifting of Puerto Ricans when they came to the U.S. and their work in the tobacco industry. Who knew?” asked Rossana Jaffe, 45, a Northeast Philly native of Argentinean background. She is one of the 18 members who are part of the curating process.

About 40 locals participate at the preview of the project's work at Taller Puertorriqueño.
Jesenia De Moya Correa
About 40 locals participate at the preview of the project's work at Taller Puertorriqueño.

The grant-based project funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage also offered its 18 participants the chance to talk with historians, tour murals in historically Puerto Rican neighborhoods, and visit the homes of Philly Puerto Ricans.

“The historic, cultural, and political events that these collections offer is a description of the migration process that Puerto Rico has gone through, that connects with the migration processes that other communities have also done to Philadelphia," said Carmen Febo San-Miguel, executive director for Taller Puertorriqueño.

The website launch party is June 26 at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on Locust Street. Free transportation will be provided if participants register through Taller Puertorriqueño.

Beth Twiss Houting, senior director of programs and services with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, noted that the exhibit will feature a compelling collection of documents it’s been holding onto for years — donations from private residents or organizations like the former Spanish Merchants Association — that will now be accessible by the public.