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Interpreting the Evidence

Official Government Seal of Puerto Rico, c. 1950s

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Postwar United States (1945 - 1970)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Official Government Seal of Puerto Rico, c. 1950s in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Postcard showing the official government seal of Puerto Rico and listing facts about the island, c. 1950s.
Historical Context
The Estado Libre Asocido de Puerto Rico, or the Seal of Puerto Rico, was created in 1953. The seal contains the same figures as the Spanish crown assigned to Puerto Rico in the sixteenth century. In the green center, the lamb symbolizes peace and brotherhood. The rack of arrows above the lamb is a symbol for creativity. The letters "F" and "I" along the sides stand for the Spanish monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who were in power when Spain claimed Puerto Rico. The inscription "Joannes est nomen ejus" translates to "Juan is its name," referring to Puerto Rico’s first name, San Juan. Surrounding the center are the towers of Castile and the lions of Leon. Castile and Leon represent Spain’s two major regions. Also, there is a cross referring to Spain as the most powerful Catholic country at the time. Finally, also encircling the center are Spanish flags.
Essential Question
How do immigrants influence the culture of a society?
Check for Understanding
Identify three key details from this document and evaluate the influence of European culture on the island of Puerto Rico.
Historical Challenges
Make a timeline of Puerto Rico’s history.
Create a similar document about New York. Place the New York seal in the center and surround it with facts about New York.
What would be the costs and benefits of statehood for Puerto Rico? Are most people on the island for or against becoming a state?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Create a seal for your town or school. Explain why you selected each symbol.
English Language Arts: Hold a debate discussing the pros and cons of Puerto Rico becoming an independent country.