Documents sought to help archive Arlington’s Latino history

Over the last three decades, Arlington’s Latino community has rapidly grown and stockpiled a wealth of history.

And this week, librarians and historians at the Center for Local History at Arlington Public Library are asking for donations of documents to archive the county’s Hispanic history.

The project is called Re-Encuentro de Arlington Latinos.

“This is the perfect time to start collecting that material,” said Judy Knudsen, the Center for Local History’s manager. “The organizations that were helping immigrants in a new country are 20 years old, and they have a substantive amount of work now.”

Archivists are calling for photographs; minutes from meetings; and financial documents from Hispanic community groups, civic organizations, churches and residents, said library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist.

The group is also kicking off the effort with a community celebration on Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Barbara M. Donnellan Auditorium at Central Library. Historians will collect some items during the event, Knudsen said.

“It’s their minutes; it’s their flyers,” she said. “All these things help to tell what they were interested in and what they accomplished.”

Arlington’s Hispanic population greatly expanded from 1990 to 2000 — increasing by nearly 53%. Now, they make up almost 16% of the county, Sundqvist said.

“We’re really celebrating our diverse culture and heritage here,” he said. “And our Latino community is a big part of who we are and what we will become.”

This is the first phase of a multi-year project that will make an impact on future generations.

“We want people to be interested in making sure we continue to get this material,” Knudsen said. “Years to come, a historian who comes in and wants to learn about Arlington and the Latino community will have the material to do it.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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