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Hispanic Heritage Month


Pictures & Records

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According to the Library of Congress on its National Hispanic Heritage Month web page:

"Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period."

In 2010, the theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is "Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America."

There are many resources available (listed below) for anyone interested in learning more or educating others about the proud heritage and history of Hispanics in the United States.

First, let's explore resources available on Footnote.

Hispanic records on Footnote.com

There are many titles and documents available on Footnote that enlighten us on the lives of Hispanics and their cultures. They include the following, which we'll provide examples of further down on this page:


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Naturalization petitions, oaths of allegience, and related papers include numerous immigrants with Hispanic origins.


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Many original and naturalized citizens of the United States with Hispanic ancestry applied for passports in order to travel for business or pleasure.

The passport shown here is for Juan Garcia, born in Madrid, Spain, on 1 Aug. 1864. He was living in New York and applied for a passport so he could travel as an exporter. His 1920 census record is shown in the "Census records" story later on this page.

FBI Case Files

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There is an entire series within the "Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922" which covers "Mexican Files, 1909-21."

Census records

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Hispanics have lived in the United States since long before it became a nation. The 1930 census also includes Spanish language forms for those enumerated in Puerto Rico.


Line 51 (top line) in the image of the 1930 Florida census shows Juan Garcia, a cigar maker and Cuban immigrant.

Line 43 in the image of the 1920 Brooklyn, NY, census shows Juan Garcia (noted above in the passport story), as a clerk in the "export trade."

The third and fourth images attached to this story are examples of Puerto Rican census images.


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Many photographs on Footnote feature people, places, and events from Latin America. The Fine Arts Commission series, with numerous historic images from the early 20th century, includes "Latin America" as a subject. Maps, festivals, cities, and scenes from many countries are included, bringing this vivid heritage to life, even in black & white.

Military records

Nearly every war in which the colonies or the U.S. was engaged included soldiers of Hispanic origins.

Specific titles to search include:

  • Civil War Pension Index
  • Civil War Widows
  • Navy Survivors' Certificates
  • Navy Widows' Certificates
  • Pearl Harbor Muster Rolls
  • Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Some titles elaborate on those who fought against Mexico in the Mexican-American War, including:

  • Mormon Battalion Pension Files

Learn more about the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) an this excellent PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/index_flash.html

Footnote subscriber "bgill" prepared a page addressing Hispanics in the Military. in which she briefly elaborates on Hispanics who defended the nation as well as Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Joseph H. De Castro who distinguished himself at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War.

Registro Central de Esclavos, 1872

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These schedules, written in Spanish, resulted from "ley Moret," an 1870 law granting freedom to certain slaves in Puerto Rico. Slaves are listed under the department and then under the municipality in which they resided. Information for each slave may include name, country of origin, present residence, name of parents, sex, marital status, trade, age, physical description, and master's name.

See what others are discovering in the Registro Central de Esclavos on the title page here.

Vital records

Check out the Texas Birth Certificates and Texas Death Certificates

City directories

Residents of thirty major U.S. cities are listed in the hundreds of city directories available on Footnote.


Hundreds of newspapers from large cities and small towns cover the lives and events of their residents. Hispanics are important members within many of these communities.

Related resources

A few of the many websites include:

The National Archives - links to Hispanic American Records available at NARA as well as links to Hispanic-American Genealogy on other websites.

The Library of Congress - a detailed listing of events and resources for Hispanic Heritage Month, including the Hispanic Reading Room.

Evergreen State College - a tribute to National Hispanic Heritage Month, including this map of Mexico and Latin America.

New Jersey, Department of State - statewide celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month.

State of Florida - recognizing Florida's Hispanic Heritage: Past, Present and Future.

State of Arizona - CASA of Arizona's tribute.

National Register of Historic Places - listing many properties significant for Hispanic heritage.

Wikipedia - National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Scholastic.com - resources for teachers.

Smithsonian Education - events, resources, and an Hispanic heritage virtual tour.

Contributor: HistoryLady19
Created: September 19, 2010 · Modified: September 21, 2010

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