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The Puerto Rican Diaspora: From the Island of Enchantment to the United States


During the late 1940s and 1950s, factories in the northeastern United States began recruiting workers from Puerto Rico. With the decline of available jobs in Puerto Rico and cheap airfare, thousands migrated to the United States looking for work. The Great Migration mostly occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, with an estimated 470,000 coming to the United States during those years.

Today, more people of Puerto Rican descent are estimated to live in the rest of the United States than on the island itself. Many of these 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants, sometimes called Nuyoricans, are passionate about their Puerto Rican heritage. They seek to keep their culture alive and work to address social issues relating to their experiences in the United States through music, dance, art, and literature.

The Puerto Rican diaspora is considered an internal migration because of the status of Puerto Rican as United States citizens. Most records available are United States records. If you aren’t sure where to start looking for your Puerto Rican ancestors, try the New York Public Library for available information and records in New York.

You can also search Puerto Rican records for free at FamilySearch.org. The Puerto Rico records page has dozens of collections and repositories, each with thousands of records available for you to search.