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West Coast Puerto Rican Elders/California Oral History Project

Califonia-Oral-History-Project

The Puerto Rican community in Northern California goes back to November of 1900 when Puerto Rican workers were being transported to Hawaii for contract labor in the sugar industry. Many died from disease from the grueling trip by ship and train. On their arrival in San Francisco, some continued to Hawaii and made their lives there. Fifty of the first group of migrants refused to board the ship to Hawaii and founded the San Francisco Puerto Rican Community.

The purpose of this collection is to share the history of the Puerto Rican diaspora on the West Coast. Interviewer Aurora Levins Morales is a writer born in 1954 in Maricao, Puerto Rico. In 1976, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where her writings reflected the many social justice movements of that time. Ms. Levins Morales strived to make visible those who have been absent from history books. Addressing the importance of giving voice to the oppressed, Ms. Levins Morales argued that traditional historical narratives have had devastating effects on those it has silenced. In 1998 she was approached by the Western Region Puerto Rican Council to carry out research on the Bay Area Puerto Rican community. Ms. Levins Morales did extensive research on the history of Puerto Ricans in California, collecting several dozen oral histories, and preserving early documents of the San Francisco Puerto Rican community.

To access this collection's finding aid, please visit the California Oral History Project Collection.

Items in this audio collection

Daniel Chamorro Oral History, CD 1

Interview with Daniel Chamorro, a Puerto Rican who would go on to move to San Francisco, California and host a popular radio show that would span for two decades. Mr. Chamorro discusses growing up in the 1930s. He talks about his childhood, his family and his parents work as agricultural laborers. He approaches the memories of the tough economic times with good spirits and talks about his…

Daniel Chamorro Oral History, CD 2

Continuation of interview with Daniel Chamorro. Once in San Francisco, Mr. Chamorro worked in a paint factory and as a machinist. He went on to pursue his passion for radio and became the host of a popular radio show. Mr. Chamorro discusses the evolution and multi-national appeal of his show, and how he pushed the show ahead for two decades. Mr. Chamorro also discusses how he had to have part-time…

Ogao Family Oral History, CD 1

This oral history features Aurora Levins Morales interviewing the Ogao family. Rose Ogao talks about her mother who moved from Puerto Rico to Hawaii in 1900, as well as talking about her siblings and their experience growing up on a sugar plantation in Hawaii. In 1951, Ms. Ogao and her husband moved to San Francisco.

Language: English

Josephine Santiago Oral History, CD 1

Aurora Levins Morales interviews Josephine Santiago, in which she talks about her grandparents who emigrated with their five children from Puerto Rico to Hawaii to work on a plantation. After finishing their contract in Hawaii, the family moved to San Francisco.

At eighteen, Ms. Santiago married a Hawaiian Puerto Rican named Tony Santiago. Living in San Francisco, she started working for the…

Josephine Santiago Oral History, CD 2

Continuation of Josephine Santiago interview. She discusses the lives of her aunts, uncles, and parents in California. She also talks about her experience growing up in Depression era San Francisco.

At eighteen, Ms. Santiago married a Hawaiian Puerto Rican named Tony Santiago. Living in San Francisco, she started working for the post office, where she worked for 26 years.
She helped found the…

Josephine Santiago Oral History, CD 3

Continuation of Josephine Santiago interview. She discusses the lives of her aunts, uncles, and parents in California. She also talks about her experience growing up in Depression era San Francisco.

At eighteen, Ms. Santiago married a Hawaiian Puerto Rican named Tony Santiago. Living in San Francisco, she started working for the post office, where she worked for 26 years. She helped found the…