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Meeting of the Board of Regents | February 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 







Jeffrey Cannell


Archives:  Report and Demonstration of the Ventana al Pasado and La Escuela Electrónica projects


January 23, 2009








Issue for Discussion


The Archives is completing two projects with nine partner institutions to create and ensure access to the documentary heritage of New York’s Latinos and to make these resources available for education.  The projects resulted in two websites: Ventana al Pasado/Windows on the Past – a web-based online research collection and La Escuela Electrónica/The Electronic Schoolhouse – an educational website.  After a demonstration of the sites, the Regents will discuss ways in which these types of tools can be used to increase access to resources and improve academic performance.


Reason(s) for Consideration


For Information


Proposed Handling


The Regents will review the Archives’ progress in documenting New York’s Latino population, building on that work to create web-based research and educational resources and making these resources available to teachers and students.


Background Information


In 2005, the New York State Archives, in partnership with the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños/Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create Ventana al Pasado or Windows on the Past, a Web-based online research collection linking the Latino-related holdings of nine government, academic, and community-based repositories in New York. Users of this online resource will find information, in both Spanish and English, about over 100 New York collections that document the Latino experience in our State as well as over 3,000 images depicting public service, cultural identity, and artistic contribution.


Now the largest minority population in New York and the United States, Latinos have participated in every aspect of social, political, economic, and cultural life at state and national levels. Yet in New York and nationally, Hispanics are poorly represented in the publicly accessible historical record. Ventana brings to the research community the archival records that document the Latino/Hispanic populations in New York State and their contributions to the history of the state and the nation.


A companion resource, designed especially for classroom teachers and their students, is La Escuela Electrónica, or the Electronic Schoolhouse, a bilingual educational resource, funded entirely by a grant secured from Time Warner through the Archives Partnership Trust.  La Escuela uses historical records as learning tools for elementary, middle and secondary education. The project involved classroom teachers who developed the content to correlate with the New York State Learning Standards.

Available in English and Spanish, The Electronic Schoolhouse examines the Latino experience in New York through photographs, letters, posters and flyers dating from 1861 to the present.  Introductory videos explain how teachers can use such primary sources in their classrooms and the kinds of institutions that care for these one-of-a-kind materials.

The nine institutions that participated in Ventana contributed their documents to this project to bring a Latino perspective to events on the local, state and national levels. The documents are organized by topics selected to correlate to New York’s learning standards: immigration, labor unions, biography, civil rights, culture, and urbanization.

The Electronic Schoolhouse combines historical records and technology to promote the development of critical thinking skills (analyzing and interpreting information), reading and writing skills, understanding historical content and context, and may be used for a range of purposes including English as a second language and bilingual education proficiency.


Timetable for Implementation



  • Ventana al Pasado is in the final stages of development, with a launch date of October 2009.