The digital collection Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Perspectives is one component of a collaborative project undertaken by the Library of Congress Hispanic Division and the National Digital Library Program to recognize the centennial of the Spanish-American War (1898). The first product of this collaboration, The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War, came online in 1998. Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age now joins it, while also expanding the Library of Congress's continuing commitment to highlight the histories of distinctive American regions through the online presentation of materials selected from a number of divisions.
Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age encompasses historically important writings by prominent Puerto Rican political activists and historians dating from approximately seventy years before the Spanish-American war (1831) until some thirty years after it (1929). Texts from the postwar period include the only English-language works in the collection. Among these are soldiers' reminiscences about the conflict and short histories designed to acquaint an American audience with Puerto Rico in the earliest years of its affiliation with the United States.
The collection comprises 11 monographs scanned from printed copies and 39 political pamphlets and 2 monographs and a journal scanned from microfilm. The pamphlets are part of the Puerto Rican Memorial Collection, 1846-1907, a collection of 447 pamphlets microfilmed in 1994 that covers agriculture and botany, economics, education, government, politics, history, literature, legal materials, and public health. Reels 13 (addresses, essays, laws, and political parties) and 14 (politics and government) are featured in Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age. All pamphlets are in Spanish. Four of the books are in English and the rest in Spanish. The materials in the collection were selected by Edmundo Flores, a curator in the Hispanic Division.
Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age does not present a socially comprehensive view of Puerto Rican history during the period it covers. The books and pamphlets in this collection were written by educated men of European descent whose perspectives inevitably differed from the viewpoints of those less privileged in Puerto Rican society at the time. Individuals of African descent, and to a lesser extent women, seldom had access to the education or technology that would have enabled them to leave published records of their thoughts, deeds, and daily life.