The Rhode Island Latino History Collections is housed in Central Falls, RI. It is the first comprehensive collection of archival collection that tells the complete story of the history of the Spanish-speaking people of Rhode Island.
This collection is part of Nuestras Raíces, a community oral history project started in 1991, and is managed by Marta V. Martínez, Community Oral Historian and Executive Director of Rhode Island Latino Arts.
Rhode Island's Latinos are very diverse. The information we collect includes not just stories of our Pioneers, but is now expanding to include all of the diverse and growing complexities and beauty of the Latino/Latina/Latinx communities in the state.
Latinos today are found in urban and rural communities all over the state, contributing enormously to the cultural, social, political, and economic fabric of Rhode Island. Within the next decade Latinos will become Rhode Island’s largest minority population, yet only a very few organizations in Rhode Island are actively collecting significant information about Latinos.
Much of the documentation that records the rich history and culture of these diverse communities statewide is in danger of being lost. Historical information is inadequately represented in the documentation of broad areas of Latino culture, including the fine arts, popular music and dance forms and folk and traditional arts. Similarly, information is extremely limited about Hispanic businesses and social, political, community, and religious organizations.
Responses to issues of immigration and migration, discrimination, economic opportunity, public education, health care, law enforcement, and social services by the Latino/Latina/Latinx people have been poorly represented in historical records. Even the substantial contributions of various Latino and Latina community leaders and politicians from Rhode Island at the local, state and even national level are seriously lacking adequate documentation.
This website and the collections in is only the beginning. It is up to the next generations of Latinx to continue adding to our story.