NPL hosts event for launch of book on outstanding women in Puerto Rican history on June 29

PR Women History Forgot
Source: Markus Wiener Publishers – book cover
The New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center @ The Newark Public Library and the Friends of HRIC are co-hosting the launch of the new book, Nationalists Heroines: Puerto Rican Women History Forgot 1930s-1950s, by Dr. Olga Jiménez de Wagenheim, Professor Emerita in History, Rutgers University. The public is welcome at this event.

A book signing and reception will follow the talk and reading.

Book Release Event for Nationalists Heroines:
Puerto Rican Women History Forgot, 1930s-1950s
Wednesday 29 June | 6 PM
@ The Newark Public Library
Centennial Hall
5 Washington Street, Newark, NJ
973-733-3637 or 973-733-7772

Historians have largely overlooked the roles of the Puerto Rican women who were active members of the island’s Nationalist Party and fought to end what they considered to be the U.S. government’s illegal occupation of Puerto Rico. Dr. Wagenheim’s latest book seeks to rescue the stories of these courageous women who gave up their freedom in search of their homeland’s independence. Attached is a brief note from the publisher’s site.

Olga Jiménez de Wagenheim is author of Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History, El Grito de Lares: sus causas y sus hombres, Puerto Rico’s Revolt for Independence: El Grito de Lares and co-editor with Kal Wagenheim of The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History.

For more information contact:
Ingrid Betancourt, Director
NJ Hispanic Research and Information Center
@ The Newark Public Library
ibetancourt@npl.org
5 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
973-733-3637 or 973-733-7772

Publisher’s statement about Nationalist Heroines: Puerto Rican Women History Forgot, 1930s-1950s by Olga Jiménez de Wagenheim

From the moment the United States seized Puerto Rico, in 1898, to the 1950s, the islanders employed various forms of resistance to the imposition of American colonial rule. A group of Nationalists led by Pedro Albizu Campos made it clear that they would free Puerto Rico, by armed struggle if necessary. A confrontation between the Nationalists and the colonial police in October 1935 left four Nationalists dead. A few months later two Nationalists killed the Chief of Police, Francis E. Riggs. Albizu Campos and seven of his aides were convicted on seditious charges and sent to a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. His followers attempted to hold a demonstration in Ponce, Albizu Campos’s hometown, and were gunned down by the police: nineteen unarmed men, women, and children were killed and more than one hundred and fifty wounded. Dominga de la Cruz ran from a place of safety to rescue the flag from a wounded comrade.

Back in Puerto Rico in 1947, Albizu Campos began to plan for a revolution, which he launched on October 30, 1950. A commando unit of five attacked the Governor’s residence while others assaulted police stations in half a dozen cities and towns throughout the island. One woman, Doris Torresola, was shot while protecting her leader. The same day Blanca Canales was one of three to lead the revolt in Jayuya. Two days later, two Nationalists, residents of New York, attempted to kill President Truman at Blair House, his temporary residence. Massive arrests followed and forty-one women were detained on suspicion that they had conspired with the rebels. Two of the fifteen women indicted were sentenced to life in prison. Then, on March 1, 1954, another woman, Dolores Lebrón, led three male companions in an attack on the U.S. House of Representatives in which five congressmen were shot for keeping Puerto Rico in bondage.

Historians have largely overlooked the roles of these Nationalist women. Nationalist Heroines: Puerto Rican Women History Forgot, 1930s-1950s seeks to rescue the stories of the women who gave up their freedom in the quest to free their homeland.

Dr. Olga Jiménez Wagenheim is Professor Emerita in History, Rutgers University, Newark Campus, where she taught 27 years and where she received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (1991), the Humanitarian Award (1998) and many others.

Dr. Jiménez Wagenheim has published several books and numerous articles on Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. Among her books are: Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History From Pre-Columbian Times to 1900 (Markus Wiener Pub., 1998), Puerto Rico’s Revolt for Independence: El Grito de Lares (Westview Press, 1984), El Grito de Lares: sus causas y sus hombres (Huracan, 1984), and co-edited with Kal Wagenheim, The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History (Praeger, 1973, Markus Wiener, 2013).

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