Fragmented Archives: Northeastern Millworkers and Puerto Rican Needleworkers in the Same Industry, Different Collections,” Association for the Study of Connecticut History, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT
A chance conversation with a colleague led to the realization that Puerto Rican women migrated to the Northeast in the 1960s and 1970s for jobs in old textile and garment factories. That evidence contradicts the dominant historical narrative of the industry “dying” in New England as it relocated in one direction, southward. Puerto Rican women were one interconnected if not interchangeable labor market critical to how a complex global working class coalesced. Documents and oral histories of white and Puerto Rican women workers have been collected in distinct archives, leading to misconceptions about the industry and the development of capitalism. In order to explore such historical relationships, scholars have to acknowledge their specific positionality, the bounded “field of visibility” for their specialty. They can then search for links across archives that have been “disjunctured” by colonial practices or constrained by formal practices of organizing knowledge. Both the Dodd Center at UConn and the Connecticut Historical Society have collections for these women workers that historians can approach in this way.