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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Graphs of Cuban and Puerto Rican Immigration to the United States

The charts below measure the number of immigrants entering the United States from Cuba and Puerto Rico during the early twentieth century. Cuban immigration spikes during the earliest years of the twentieth century, when the U.S. repeatedly [...]

An Ybor City Resident Describes Work in the Cigar Factories

The family of Cesar Marcos Medina moved from Cuba to Ybor City in Tampa, Florida in 1903. In this interview, Medina details the experiences of his father, who worked as a lector (reader) in the city's cigar factories. Medina also describes the [...]

Interview with a Puerto Rican Cigarworker in New York

In his memoirs, the Puerto Rican-born cigar maker Bernardo Vega included this interview he conducted with a fellow immigrant about Puerto Rican life in New York during the early part of the twentieth century. In response to Vega's questions, the [...]

A Lector Reads to Cigar Workers

The lector, or reader, was an institution in Tampa cigar factories. Elected and paid by the workers, the lector read material of their choosing aloud as the workers assembled cigars. Lectores read newspapers, current affairs publications, and even [...]

A Spanish-language Newspaper in Tampa, Florida

Cubans living in Tampa during the early part of the twentieth century published their own newspapers in Spanish. In addition to local news, the papers carried dispatches from Cuba and Spain. These papers were frequently read aloud in the city's [...]

Harlem Hellfighters Regimental Band

The Fifteenth Infantry Regiment (Colored) of the New York National Guard—popularly known as the "Harlem Hellfighters"—was formed in Harlem in 1916 to help the U.S. war effort during World War I. One of its members, James Reese Europe, was [...]

Marti-Maceo Society

While agitation for Cuban independence had brought black and white Cubans together, during the post-independence period exile communities in Florida split under the influence of the region's Jim Crow mores. The Marti-Maceo Society (Sociedad La [...]

San Carlos Institute

The San Carlos Institute in Key West, Florida was established in 1871 by Cuban exiles who sought their country's independence from Spain. The Institute, which provided bilingual education and promoted Cuban independence, was largely supported and [...]

"To Increase Common Labor Supply with Porto Ricans"

With the passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917, Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States. At the same time, penetration of the island by American-backed sugar interests displaced thousands of rural inhabitants, pushing them into a wage [...]

Cuban Volunteers in the Barracks

This group of Cuban immigrants sailed from the U.S. back to Cuba on May 21, 1898, under the name "Army of the Cuban Republic." Their goal was to aid the rebels fighting for Cuban independence from Spain. Many of these soldiers had been cigarworkers [...]

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