Bridgeport and New Haven Puerto Rican Oral Histories, 2023-2024 : Interviews conducted by Amanda Rivera, Yale University

Fifth year Yale University doctoral candidate Amanda Rivera approached the History Center about conducting oral histories to facilitate her research on the bilingual education movement in Bridgeport as led by Puerto Ricans in the 1970s. Rivera continued her work interviewing community members about this topic in both Bridgeport and New Haven into 2024. The interviews she conducted are now part of the History Center holdings as an oral history collection. The collection is called "Bridgeport and New Haven Puerto Rican Oral Histories, 2023-2024".

Rivera's research centered examines the lives of Puerto Ricans in Bridgeport and New Haven, particularly through the lens of education reform, from the 1960s through present day. She seeks to determine how education has historically operated as a political platform for Puerto Ricans to negotiate their belonging as colonial subjects - in other words, education as both a site of oppression and a tool of resistance. This creation of this collection is the first step in understanding how Puerto Ricans in Bridgeport have historically forged community, in order to contextualize how current generations are establishing community.

According to Rivera, Puerto Ricans have important histories in Bridgeport, and yet, very little is heard about them outside the city limits. Through this project, she aimed to rectify this in generating an archive that is public-facing and accessible, making space for multiple generations to come forward and impart their knowledge with the community.

A share goal of this project was to conduct research directly with community members and create bodies of knowledge that are accessible regardless of institutional affiliation, educational experience, and so on. In asking Puerto Rican interviewees about their lives in Bridgeport (moment of arrival, occupation, experiences with schooling, changes in their neighborhoods, etc.), Rivera has provided the Bridgeport History Center with a repository of information about this crucial population that is generated by the community and for the community.

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Bridgeport and New Haven Puerto Rican Oral Histories, 2023-2024