Saturday, February 14, 2015

Puerto Rican WWI Era Research, PartI

U. S. Employment service Bulletins, published weekly

War Time Labor Shortage.  
Where Was Your Ancestor?
In 1918, the U.S. A. government began recruiting its new Puerto Rican citizens (as of March 1917) as mainland laborers. The idea was to place workers in New York and other states to assist with the shortage of war time in manufacturing, railroad, agriculture, construction, etc. Initially the goal was to register approximately ten thousand people, but that increased to over seventy-five thousand registered Puerto Ricans agreeing to the .35¢ per hour plus military housing/boarding and transportation via military vessels. Your ancestors may have been one of these registered laborers.  

Where to Begin?
Like all genealogy research, gather as much data as possible on your ancestor. This information should include full name, sibling’s names, parents, etc. Since names are quite common, determine distinguishing characteristics - occupation, city, nickname, etc.

6 Vital Record Collections
  1. New York National Archives (NARA). The Guide to Puerto Rican Records in the National Archives, New York City, is a great place to begin your Puerto Rican ancestor research. 
  2. Civil Records. Vital records  of births and deaths were recorded, in Spanish at the local Puerto Rican “Oficina del Rigistro Civil.”  Visit “Puerto Rico, Civil Registrations, 1885-2001 in the catalog or locate in the subscriber database.
  3. Newspaper Search. The New York Puerto Rican newspapers reported news of its community. Although much was in Spanish, these OCR digitized copies are easily available with the New York Public Library database resources, or other comprehensive historical/genealogical libraries that hold newspaper database subscriptions (i.e. Midwest Genealogy Center, MO. -  library card will get you home access).
    - La Democracia
    - La Correspondencia de Puerto Rico
    - El Tiempo y Union Obera

  1. Passenger Lists.
    - Puerto Rico, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1901 – 1962,
    - National Archives Record Group (RG85) Manifests of Ship Passengers Arriving at San Juan, PR in Transit to Other Destinations, 07/01/1921 – 06/30/1947 (microfilm only)
    - RG 85.3.1 Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at San Juan PR 10/7/1901 – 6/30/1948

  1. Military Records. Selective Service System draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 are digitally available on
  2. Consular Records and Passports.  Many Puerto Ricans worked in neighboring countries, (i.e. Dominican Republic).  For easier entry and exist many applied for their U. S. passports.  Visit U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 on For Puerto Rico, this collection holds records from 1907-1925. This is a good place to begin your passport research, but know that more information on Consular Records will be shared in Part II.
Thinking of a warm romantic island on this cold Valentine’s Day.
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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