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.
Carmen Fortun Gonzalez
Oral history interview conducted by Jaime Barreto
December 26, 1974
Call number: 1976.001.024
0:14 - Introducción, razones por las cuales los padres se mudaron a EE.UU., negocios de su padre - Introductions, parents' reason for coming to U.S., father's business enterprises
5:15 - Composición étnica del área de Borough Hall, tensiones raciones entre italianos y puertorriqueños - Ethnic composition of Borough Hall area, racial tensions between Italians and Puerto Ricans
7:04 - Organizaciones puertorriqueñas en Brooklyn, comunidad viequense y culebrense en Red Hook - Puerto Rican organizations in Brooklyn, Vieques and Culebra community in Red Hook
11:21 - Antonia Denis, Los Pioneros, participación de no-latinos en organizaciones latinas, James A. Kelly - Antonia Denis, Los Pioneros, participation of non-Hispanics in Hispanic organizations, James Kelly
18:29 - Trabajo en Borough Hall, periódico La Prensa, diferencias entre La Prensa y El Diario - Employment at Borough Hall, La Prensa newspaper, differences between La Prensa and El Diario
23:04 - Puertorriqueños en la prensa, lucha contra la discriminación, migración puertorriqueña después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial - Puerto Ricans in the press, fight against discrimination, Puerto Ricans migration after WWII
Oral History Interview with Carmen Fortún González
Carmen Fortún González was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. Both of González's parents were Puerto Rican, her father having moved to Brooklyn in 1912 and her mother in 1919. The narrator was exposed to political and social activism at an early time as her father lent his barbershop to community leaders to use as a meeting space. As an adult, she was involved in several Puerto Rican and Latin American civic, political, and educational organizations in Brooklyn. She worked as a stenographer at Borough Hall in Brooklyn and at the newspaper La Prensa. At the time of the 1974 interview, González was employed by the Fort Greene Community Corporation as a human resources specialist.
In this interview, Carmen Fortún González describes her parents' reasons for moving to New York from Puerto Rico and their first impressions of the city. She discusses several public figures such as Antonia Denis, Carlos Tapia, and James A. Kelly and their role in the Puerto Rican community in Brooklyn. The narrator also talks about Puerto Rican migration after the 1940s and the current situation of the newest immigrants in comparison to those who moved to Brooklyn before World War II. She also discusses the current state of Puerto Rican organizations in Brooklyn. González expresses her disappointment in Puerto Rican organizations in terms of the lack of interest in working with the community in Brooklyn, instead focusing efforts in Manhattan. Interview in Spanish conducted by Jaime Barreto.
This collection includes recordings and transcripts of oral histories narrated by those in the Puerto Rican community of Brooklyn who arrived between 1917 and 1940. The Long Island Historical Society initiated the Puerto Rican Oral History Project in 1973, conducting over eighty interviews between 1973 and 1975. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood ethnicities, discrimination, employment, community development and political leadership. Also included are newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets about Brooklyn's Puerto Rican community, and administrative information on how the project was developed, carried out, and evaluated.
CitationGonzalez, Carmen Fortun, Oral history interview conducted by Jaime Barreto, December 26, 1974, Puerto Rican Oral History Project records, 1976.001.024; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Denis, Antonia
- Gonzalez, Carmen Fortun
- Kelly, James
- Tapia, Carlos
- Emigration and immigration
- Italian Americans |Political clubs
- Puerto Ricans
- Race relations
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- Puerto Rico
- Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidPuerto Rican Oral History Project records