The Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Taller Puertorriqueño invite the public to a launch party for the new, community-curated online exhibit: Neighbors/Vecinos: Exploring Philadelphia’s history through 200 years of Puerto Rican migration.
Food, music and conversation will set the scene to celebrate this important event that will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., September 18, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania 1300 Locust Street. Philadelphia, PA 19107.
For the past two years, a dedicated community group has been exploring the archives of Taller Puertorriqueño and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to uncover stories of migration, resilience, and adaptation from Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican history.
Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller) is a community-based cultural organization founded in 1974 as a workshop to teach printmaking to youth. Taller’s primary purpose is to preserve, develop and promote Puerto Rican arts and culture, grounded in the conviction that embracing one’s cultural heritage is central to community empowerment. Taller is also committed to the representation and support of other Latinx cultural expressions and common roots.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1824, is one of the nation’s largest archives of historical documents. They serve as Philadelphia’s Library of American History, with over 21 million manuscripts, books, and graphic images encompassing centuries of US history. HSP serves more than 4,000 on-site researchers annually and millions more around the globe who use its online resources. HSP is also a leading center for the documentation and study of ethnic communities and immigrant experiences in the 20th century and one of the largest family history libraries in the country. Through educator workshops, research opportunities, public programs, and lectures throughout the year, they strive to make history relevant and exhilarating to all.
This is a great opportunity to hear about their experiences behind the scenes, discover the histories they have explored, and reflect on the lessons for all of us who have made Philadelphia home.
The program participants did archival research drawing from the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Taller Puertorriqueño’s Eugenio María de Hostos Archives.
“It was important to us to allow the participants to identify the themes and questions that resonated with them as they connected with archival materials,” says Beth Twiss Houting, senior director of programs and services at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. “When the project began, the outcome was open-ended: would we create an exhibition, or a performance, or something else entirely? We wanted this group to tell us what sort of program they would want.”
For Carmen Febo San Miguel, MD—executive director of Taller Puertorriqueño—the project exemplifies Taller’s distinctive model of community programming, using art and education as a vehicle for understanding and preserving culture. “Stewardship of our archival records reflects our commitment to reveal and memorialize the history of the community we represent so all become aware of the events and people that have shaped the present within the neighborhood’s historical narrative,” she explains. “The focus of this effort has been to document those experiences through a thematic lens of neighborhoods, and more specifically, the role of economic forces that transform the neighborhood’s characteristics over time.”
The event is free and open to the public. There will be transportation from Taller at 6:00 p.m., returning by 8:30 p.m.