Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Lucia Rodriguez
February 11, 1989
Call number: 1989.004.23
0:06 - Introducciones, migración a NY a través de México, encontrar empleo - Introductions, migrating to NY through Mexico, finding employment
3:01 - Centro de detención de inmigrantes, ayuda de la iglesia para pagar fianza y encontrar hogar - Immigration detention center, aid from church to post bail and find housing
11:13 - Aprender inglés, calidad de vida en NY, razones para quedarse en Brooklyn - Learning English, quality of life in NY, reasons for staying in Brooklyn
21:36 - Razones por las cuales la esposa se fue de El Salvador, abuso sexual - Wife's reasons for leaving El Salvador, sexual abuse
27:26 - Malas condiciones para inmigrantes, racismo en otros estados - Hardships endured by immigrants, racism in other states
32:27 - Diferencia entre vivir en Queens y Brooklyn, comunidad salvadoreña en Brooklyn - Differences between living in Queens and Brooklyn, Salvadoran community in Brooklyn
37:31 - Actividades caritativas de la Iglesia de la Transfiguración dentro de la comunidad hispánica - Charitable undertakings of the Transfiguration Church among the Hispanic community
40:37 - Cambios en la composición étnica de Los Sures, bodegas salvadoreñas, reducción en criminalidad - Changes in ethnic composition of Los Sures neighborhood, Salvadoran bodegas, reduced crime
Oral History Interview with José Aguilar
José Aguilar left El Salvador in 1980, when a relative was killed in the civil war and he began to fear for his own safety. He came to New York City via Mexico, and lived first in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens. Aguilar found work in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, but was picked up by immigration authorities and jailed. His fine was paid by a sister of the Church of the Transfiguration, and he was released. The church helped him find work, and his first job was at a summer camp in Upstate New York. Aguilar found an apartment in "Los Sures'' in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, not far from the Church of the Transfiguration.
In the interview, José Aguilar examines the difficulties of attending school to learn English while working and trying to survive economically. He speaks of the illusions that many Salvadorans have that they will live in the Manhattan skyscrapers they have seen in pictures, but end up in poor areas of Brooklyn. But in spite of difficulties, he feels that the community of Salvadorans that has fully formed near the church provides a support system that makes life more bearable for him. Aguilar observes that the Church of the Transfiguration has helped so many Central Americans, and as a result, many people arriving from there head directly to the church. Interview in Spanish conducted by Lucia Rodriguez.
Brooklyn Historical Society initiated the Hispanic Communities Documentation Project in 1988. Over fifty interviews were conducted to document the experiences of Brooklyn residents who arrived from Puerto Rico, Panama, Ecuador, and several other Central and South American nations in the latter half of the twentieth century. This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted between 1988 and 1989. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood demographics, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Also included are photographs and printed ephemera.
CitationAguilar, Jose, Oral history interview conducted by Lucia Rodriguez, February 11, 1989, Hispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories, 1989.004.23; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Aguilar, Jose
- Church of the Transfiguration
- Dominican Americans
- Emigration and immigration
- Ethnic relations
- Hispanic Americans
- Mexican Americans
- Puerto Ricans
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- El Salvador
- Far Rockaway (New York, N.Y.)
- Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidHispanic Communities Documentation Project records and oral histories