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Interpreting the Evidence

Program for 75th Anniversary of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, 1976

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • 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 Program for 75th Anniversary of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, 1976 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Program for 75th Anniversary of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, 1976 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Program celebrating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii, January 10, 1976.
Historical Context
Events occurring at the turn of the twentieth century in both Hawaii and Puerto Rico led to the migration of Puerto Ricans to the Hawaiian sugar plantations. In 1899, Puerto Rico withstood two major hurricanes that destroyed the country’s crops and economy. This left many people poor and jobless. In Hawaii during this same time, the Japanese sugar laborers forced wages up from fifty cents a day to seventy cents a day. The planters were intolerant of this pay raise. In order to lower the wages, they wanted to flood the labor market with new, cheap labor. The planters could not recruit any more Japanese to their plantations because Hawaii, which had recently become part of the United States, was now subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act. The planters’ labor needs were answered by Puerto Ricans.

The first waves of migrants had an extremely long journey to endure. They first would take a boat to New Orleans, where they would board a train to San Francisco. Once in California, they would board another boat to Hawaii. Once in Honolulu, they were quarantined before being sent to the plantations. There were many hardships for the Puerto Ricans. Families were often split apart and sent to different plantations, and there was a significant language barrier between the English-speaking planters, the Japanese laborers, and the Puerto Ricans. In 1900, about fifty Puerto Ricans made the voyage to Hawaii; by 1901, there were more than 5,000. Today, there are more than 25,000 Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii.
Essential Question
Why do people migrate?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main purpose of this document and explain why Puerto Ricans immigrated to Hawaii.
Historical Challenges
The Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii during the first quarter of the twentieth century were considered to be “without a country.” Why?
On a map of the world, locate Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Where is Puerto Rico in relationship to Hawaii? Are they close? Are they in the same ocean? How far apart are they in miles?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a play describing the decision of a Puerto Rican family to move to Hawaii and their experiences there.
Art: Create a brochure to recruit people to Hawaii, persuading them to raise sugar cane.
Music: Research two groups that are part of the entertainment in the program. Try to find examples of the kind of music they might play.