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The Historic Archive of the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce, Puerto Rico

Historical Beginnings

In discussing the history of Puerto Rico, one cannot overlook the history of the distinguished city of Ponce.  Its people, landowners, merchants, politicians, writers and artists contributed to the area’s development.  In the words of Ponce Mayor Don Luis de Quixano in his 1863 inaugural address in the Plaza del Mercado Isabel II, “If only Captain Ponce de Leon, from the grave in which he rests, could lift his shrouded eyes and see the extent of what he founded” (S-350-2)."  All of Ponce’s history is captured in the primary and secondary documents zealously guarded in the Historic Archives of the Municipality of Ponce..
The Archive of the Secretary of the Mayor of Ponce was already established by 1882.  Mr. Enrique León succeeded Dimas Gila the archivist on December 20, 1882. (S-41-11-1). The archive was organized according to the main system then in use.  Records were kept of the important reports; Don Ramón Dapena, who succeeded Don Enrique León on January 24, 1890, carried out the work.  Subsequent archivists were Don Carlos Giorgetti and Ulises Olivieri, until the appointment, on June 16 of 1915, of Don Ernesto Esbri Roubert, who began reorganizing the material dating from 1890 onward.  This varied collection continued growing and included all the documents related to the municipality. Don Antonio Mirabal took up the post of archivist until 1966.  He was followed by Billy Fourquet until 1967, Leopoldo Ruíz 1967-1973, Acasio Torres 1973-74, and Lic. Gladys E. Tormes from April 15, 1974 to the present.

On June 19, 1975, The Ponce Historic Archive was re-opened in its new location, the old public library (part of the La Perla theatre).  In 1991, under the administration of Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago, the Department of Arts and Culture hired Ms. Marta Villaizán to reorganize the archive.  She used the Procedencia system, in which documents are organized according to their creator or acquisition source.

The mission of the archive is to gather, preserve, and protect all collected documents in various formats so individuals, universities, and non-university organizations can use the material for study and research to promote wider knowledge of our historic, social and cultural life as a people.

The Municipality of Ponce has a wealth of documents dating back to 1812, starting with the first Book of Proceedings, created when the first popularly elected mayor, Don José Ortiz de la Renta took office. The collection is in eight sections: Government, Departments, Finance, Plans, Newspapers, Photographs, Videotapes and Private Collections.