Spanish americans

by Clark Colahan


Similar in climatic zones, area, and population to California, Spain occupies the greater part of the Iberian peninsula in southwestern Europe. Spain's Latin name, Hispania (Land of Rabbits), was given by Carthaginian settlers at the dawn of recorded history. Colonized by a series of important civilizations, it became heir to the cultures not only of Carthage but also of Greece and Rome. It was the home country of legionaries, several emperors, and philosophers, including Seneca, the founder of Stoicism. Later, with the fall of the empire, it was settled by Germanic Visigoths, then Arabs and Moors. As the center of the first world empire of the modern era, Spain imposed its culture and language on peoples in many parts of the globe. By the beginning of the twenty-first century it is estimated that there will be more people in the world who speak Spanish (330 million) than English.

Although politically unified since the reign of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel in the late fifteenth century, Spain continues to be divided by regional loyalties. Individual Spaniards, whether living in Spain or abroad, usually think of the patria (the fatherland) not as the entire nation, but rather as the area of the country where they were raised. This tendency has not diminished in recent years; in fact, the government has moved toward a less centralized form of rule by dividing the country into autonomías (autonomous areas) linked to Madrid (Spain's capital city) in a loose federalism that accommodates and even encourages more local control than the country has known for centuries.

Among the major regions in Spain are Castile, which includes the capital city of Madrid; Cataluña, which includes the city of Barcelona; Andalucía, which includes Seville; Extremadura; Galicia; and the Basque Country.

While centralist regimes of the past favored a standard national language, the Spanish government today encourages the schooling in and general use of regional dialects and languages. Galicians, for example, who occupy the northwest corner of the peninsula, speak Gallego. It is a language that reflects in vocabulary and structure the region's proximity to Portugal, to the south, and Castile, to the east. Residents of Cataluña speak Catalan, a Romance language that shares many features with other Romance languages such as Spanish and French but that is distinct from them. In Castile, the country's central region, the residents speak Castellano, which is also the language of most Latin American countries and, outside of Spain, is commonly thought of as the standard Spanish language.

Basques, who call themselves Euskaldunak, meaning "speakers of Euskera," occupy a small area of Spain known as the Basque Country; the Basque word for this region is Euzkadi. Located in the north central part of the country, and no more than 100 miles long in any direction, Euzkadi is considered by its inhabitants as part of the same ethnic nation found across the border in southwestern France. In contrast to Gallego, the Basque ancestral language, Euskera, appears unrelated to any other dialect in Spain or elsewhere, with the possible exception of some vocabulary items found in the area of the Black Sea. Basque culture is considered the oldest in Europe, predating even the prehistoric arrival of the Indo-European peoples.

Today, with the exception of enclaves on the north coast of Morocco, the Spanish empire is gone; it has been replaced by a constitutional monarchy modeled on the British system. While emigration is currently at low levels, from 1882 to 1947 some five million Spaniards emigrated (eventually about 3.8 million of those returned to Spain). Half went to Argentina, which, as a large, sparsely populated country, took active measures to attract Europeans; historically, Argentina is second only to the United States in the number of all immigrants received. A number of Spanish immigrants settled in Cuba, a colony of Spain until the Spanish-American War in 1898, and many Spaniards moved to what is now the United States.


In the first century of Spain's presence in the New World, many of the explorers and soldiers came from Andalucía (in the South) and Extremadura (in the West), two of the poorest regions of the country. The early and lasting influence of these immigrants explains why the standard dialect spoken today in the Western Hemisphere retains the pronunciation used in the South, instead of the characteristics of the older variant still spoken by those living north of Madrid. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the region that has produced the most emigrants has been Galicia, together with similar parts of Old Castile that border it on the south. During most of this time Galicia has been an isolated, un-industrialized corner of the peninsula. Its inheritance laws either divided farms among all the siblings in a family, resulting in unworkably small minifundios, or denied land entirely to all but the first born. In either case the competition for land was intense, compelling many Galicians to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Adjoining Galicia to the east on Spain's north coast is Asturias, which also sent large numbers of immigrants overseas. Until the nineteenth century its economic situation was similar to that in Galicia, but it later became a national leader in industrial development based on coal mining, metal working, and ship building. The above-average level of occupational skills possessed by the Asturian immigrants contributed significantly to the characterization of Spanish immigrants as highly skilled workers.

The southern provinces of Spain, which include Almería, Málaga, Granada, and the Canary Islands, have been another major source of Spanish immigration to the United States. A number of factors combined to compel citizens to leave these regions: the hot, dry climate; the absence of industry; and a latifundio system of large ranches that placed agriculture under the control of a landed caste.

Basques have also immigrated to the United States in large numbers. Traditionally both hardy mountain farmers as well as seafaring people, they may have reached the coasts of the New World before Columbus. Basques stood out in the exploration of the Americas, both as soldiers and members of the crews that sailed for the Spanish. Prominent in the civil service and colonial administration, they were accustomed to overseas travel and residence. Another reason for their emigration besides the restrictive inheritance laws in the Basque Country, was the devastation from the Napoleonic Wars in the first half of the nineteenth century, which was followed by defeats in the two Carlist civil wars. (For more information about the Basque, and immigrants to the United States from this region, please see the essay on Basque Americans)


In colonial times there were a number of Spanish populations in the New World with governments answerable to Madrid. The first settlement was in Florida, followed by others in New Mexico, California, Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. In 1598, when the first New Mexican town was established, there were about 1,000 Spaniards north of Mexico; today, their descendants are estimated at 900,000. Since the founding of the United States, an additional 250,000 immigrants have arrived either directly from Spain or following a relatively short sojourn in a Latin American country.

The earliest Spanish settlements north of Mexico (known then as New Spain) were the result of the same forces that later led the English to come to that area. Exploration had been fueled in part by imperial hopes for the discovery of wealthy civilizations. In addition, like those aboard the Mayflower, most Spaniards came to the New World seeking land to farm, or occasionally, as historians have recently established, freedom from religious persecution. A substantial number of the first settlers to New Mexico, for instance, were descendants of Spanish Jews who had been compelled to leave Spain.

Immigration to the United States from Spain was minimal but steady during the first half of the nineteenth century, with an increase during the 1850s and 1860s resulting from the social disruption of the Carlist civil wars. Much larger numbers of Spanish immigrants entered the country in the first quarter of the twentieth century—27,000 in the first decade and 68,000 in the second—due to the same circumstances of rural poverty and urban congestion that led other Europeans to emigrate in that period. In 1921, however, the U.S. government enacted a quota system that favored northern Europeans, limiting the number of entering Spaniards to 912 per year, an amount soon reduced further to 131.

The Spanish presence in the United States continued to diminish, declining sharply between 1930 and 1940 from a total of 110,000 to 85,000. Many immigrants moved either back to Spain or to another Hispanic country. Historically, Spaniards have often lived abroad, usually in order to make enough money to return home to an enhanced standard of living and higher social status. In Spanish cities located in regions that experienced heavy emigration at the beginning of the twentieth century, such as the port city of Gijón in Asturias, there are wealthy neighborhoods usually referred to as concentrations of indianos, people who became rich in the New World and then returned to their home region.

Beginning with the Fascist revolt against the Spanish Republic in 1936 and the devastating civil war that ensued, General Francisco Franco established a reactionary dictatorship that ruled Spain for 40 years. At the time of the Fascist takeover, a small but prominent group of liberal intellectuals fled into exile in the United States. After the civil war the country endured 20 years of extreme poverty. As a result, when relations between Spain and most other countries were at last normalized in the mid-1960s, 44,000 Spaniards immigrated to the United States in that decade alone. In the 1970s, with prosperity emerging in Spain, the numbers declined to about 3,000 per year. Europe enjoyed an economic boom in the 1980s, and the total number of Spanish immigrants for the ten years dropped to only 15,000. The 1990 U.S. census recorded 76,000 foreign-born Spaniards in the country, representing only four-tenths of a percent of the total populace. In contrast, the largest Hispanic group—Mexicans born outside the United States—numbered over two million, approximately 21 percent.


Five areas of the United States have had significant concentrations of Spaniards: New York City, Florida, California, the Mountain West, and the industrial areas of the Midwest. For nineteenth-century immigrants, New York City was the most common destination in the United States. Until 1890 most Spaniards in this country lived either in the city itself, with a heavy concentration in Brooklyn, or in communities in New Jersey and Connecticut. By the 1930s, however, these neighborhoods had largely disintegrated, with the second generation moving to the suburbs and assimilating into the mainstream of American life.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Florida attracted the second largest group of Spaniards in the country through its ties to the Cuban cigar industry. Most of the owners of factories were originally from Asturias, and in the second half of the century they immigrated in substantial numbers, first to Cuba, then later to Key West, and eventually Tampa, taking thousands of workers with them. Several thousands of their descendants still live in the vicinity.

California is also home to descendants of southern Spanish pineapple and sugar cane workers who had moved to Hawaii at the beginning of the twentieth century. The great majority of those

In this 1933 photograph, Isabel Arevalo, a descendent of one of California's oldest Spanish American families, displays the four combs brought to America by her ancestors in the seventeenth century.
In this 1933 photograph, Isabel Arevalo, a descendent of one of California's oldest Spanish American families, displays the four combs brought to America by her ancestors in the seventeenth century.
immigrants moved on to the San Francisco area in search of greater opportunity. In Southern California's heavy industry, there have been substantial numbers of skilled workers from northern Spain.

The steel and metalworking centers of the Midwest also attracted northern Spaniards. In the censuses of 1920, 1930, and 1940, due to sizable contingents of Asturian coal miners, West Virginia was among the top seven states in number of Spanish immigrants. Rubber production and other kinds of heavy industry accounted for large groups of Spaniards in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. With the decline of this sector of the American economy in the second half of the twentieth century such centers of industry have largely lost their drawing power, accelerating the dispersal and assimilation of these Spanish communities.

Acculturation and Assimilation

The decrease in the flow of Spaniards to the United States in recent decades, combined with their ability and willingness to form part of both the Hispanic sector and the society at large, has largely obscured any specifically Spanish presence in the States. As the European segment of the American Hispanic population, and therefore in some ways the least different from the country's predominantly European cultural and racial origins, they are often perceived as less alien than Latin Americans, and are more readily accepted into American society.


Because of the widely divergent traits of the several Spanish regions, any descriptions of Spanish character can only be approximate. During the last 100 years Spanish writers have engaged in national soulsearching and debate, spurred in part by the country's disastrous loss to the United States in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Early analysts, like philosopher Ortega y Gassett and literary historian Américo Castro, questioned what it was that separated Spain from its European neighbors. Since 1975 the stress has been on reintegrating Spain into the family of nations that it led at the beginning of the modern era. One trait the discussion has demonstrated is that Spaniards often hold strong opinions at variance with those of other Spaniards. Still, some points of agreement emerge.

Castilians have an austere mystical tradition that goes hand in hand with the region's image of itself as a heroic and Christian civilizer of a world empire. In contrast, Andalucians, in the South, are often censured by those living to the north for their decidedly more outward religiosity, highly visible in Holy Week processions.

A number of factors combined to make the warrior class Spain's dominant sector in centuries past. Like the Castilian hero of the Poem of the Cid, members of that class made a practice of limiting their work to warfare and politics, leaving the more intellectual professions to the powerful Jewish minority, and the beginnings of modern industry and agriculture to the vanquished Muslims. When these two minorities were expelled from the country—the Jews in 1492 and the Muslims in 1610—the activities associated with them were considered somewhat tainted. The resulting social pattern was that of advancement through family connections and government service rather than commercial or intellectual distinction.

In the eighteenth century, there were efforts at Europeanization as the Bourbons, the French royal family, came to the Spanish throne with ideas of Enlightenment reform. Growing acceptance of scientific and democratic ideals closed much of the gap between Spain and the rest of Europe in the nineteenth century, though segments of both the aristocracy and the common people continued to resist such notions. These ideals were the focus of civil friction and wars for two-and-a-half centuries, finally emerging victorious only with the democracy established upon the death of Franco in 1975.

Features of a knightly ruling class still indirectly influence Hispanic societies, including those in the United States. These features include a firm grounding in family and other personal relations, a thorough personalismo that leads to loyalty in business and politics and to friendships in personal life. Personalismo, especially among males, is felt to be deeper and more common than among Anglos and is felt to provide greater security for one's self and family than the provisions of government.

The Spanish work ethic is compatible with the values of both pre and post-industrial Europe. While often working long, intensive hours, Spaniards have generally not felt work itself to be a pursuit that will guarantee either success or happiness. Instead, leisure has a primary value: it is used to maintain essential social contacts and is identified with upward social movement. Another element of the Spanish character is an aristocratic concern with a public image in harmony with group standards, even if at variance with the private reality. As in other cultures that motivate people through the fear of shame rather than the sting of guilt, the achievement of these goals is substantially validated through the opinions held by others. This notion is exemplified by the Spanish phrase ¿Qué dirán? (What will they say?).

Stereotypes of Spanish immigrants derive in part from the leyenda negra, the "black legend," created and spread by the English in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the two countries were rivals for European domination. Revulsion is expressed at the alleged cruelty of bull fighting, a sport that is believed by supporters to exalt individual worth through the demonstration of almost chivalric courage. Other stereotypical images, including exaggerated ideas of wild emotional intensity, create the misperception of Spain as the land of the tambourine and castanets, fiery flamenco dancing, and the reckless sensualism of Bizet's opera heroine, Carmen. Most of these elements are only connected, and in a much attenuated degree, with the southern region, Andalucía. As in matters of religion, northern Spaniards often view the character of life in their own regions as profoundly different.


Spanish food varies from region to region, though the use of olive oil instead of butter is widespread. Seafood is also a common element of Spanish meals; few parts of the peninsula are without daily deliveries of fresh fish and shellfish from the coast, and these items are the featured ingredients in the rice-based casserole of the Mediterranean coast called paella. Much of the agriculture in the South is involved with olive production, and a typical dish of the southern zone is gazpacho, a thick, cold tomato and vegetable soup originally concocted to be served during the heat of the day to harvest workers. One southern town, Jérez de la Frontera, contributed to the English language the word "sherry." In the opposite corner of the country, the Galicians and Asturians drink hard cider and eat a stew called favada, made from two kinds of sausage, garlic, saffron, and white beans.


Most Spanish holidays are also found in American culture through the shared influence of the Catholic church. One exception is the sixth of January,

In this 1988 photograph, the Spanish Heritage Club of Queens, New York, joins the Aires de Aragon musical group for the United Hispanic American Parade in New York City.
In this 1988 photograph, the Spanish Heritage Club of Queens, New York, joins the Aires de Aragon musical group for the United Hispanic American Parade in New York City.
Día de los Reyes Magos, "Day of the Three Wise Men." Known in English as Epiphany (formerly Twelfth Night), this holiday has remained vital in Spain as the occasion on which Christmas gifts are given. In the United States, Spanish children usually are the beneficiaries of a biculturalism that supplies them with gifts on January 6 as well as Christmas Eve.

The most commonly pictured Spanish clothing—as in representations of the annual spring fair in Seville that served as the prototype for the California Rose Parade—is the traditional Andalucian ruffled dress for women and the short, tightly fitted jacket for men. This jacket is cut for display both while on horseback and in the atmosphere of stylized energy and romance that characterizes flamenco dancing. Throughout much of Spain, however, holiday attire is based on everyday work clothes, but richly embroidered and appointed. The western region surrounding Salamanca has an economy based on cattle raising, and the extravagantly large hat and embroidered jacket worn by that province's charros were passed on to the Mexican cowboys.


Though known throughout the world as a "Spanish" style of music and dance, flamenco is mainly associated with the southern region of Andalucía, where Arabic and Gypsy influences are strong. Flamenco music is characterized by rapid, rhythmic hand clapping and a specialized form of guitar playing. The dancing that accompanies this music is typically done in duet fashion and includes feet stomping and castanet playing. Dancers generally wear the traditional Andalucian costumes described above: ornate, ruffled dresses for women and short, tightly fitting jackets for men. Although flamenco has not become widely popular in America, it can be found—especially in restaurants in major urban areas that have significant Spanish American populations.


As Spanish becomes more and more the second language in the United States, the American-born generations of families that emigrated from Spain have been increasingly likely to retain it in both its spoken and written forms. Current communication with Hispanic countries is highly developed, including such media as newspapers, magazines, films, and even Spanish-language television networks. Consequently immigrants arriving in recent years have found themselves less obliged to learn English than did their counterparts of 30 years ago. These newcomers integrate easily into the new Latin American communities that in several parts of the country function mainly in Spanish.

Strong believers in the value of their culture, Spanish Americans make every effort to keep the language alive in the home. Many, however, are opposed to bilingual education in the schools, a position grounded in their awareness of the need to assimilate linguistically in order to compete in an English-speaking society.

A common greeting among Spaniards is ¿Qué hay? ("kay I")—What's new?", and Hasta luego ("ahsta lwego")—See you later. Spaniards can easily be distinguished from other Spanish speakers by their ubiquitous use of vale ("bahlay"), employed identically to the American "okay." Two commonly heard proverbs are, En boca cerrada no entra mosca ("en boca therrada no entra mosca")—Don't put your foot in your mouth (literally, "If you keep your mouth shut you keep out the flies"), and Uvas y queso saben un beso ("oobas ee keso saben un beso")—Grapes and cheese together taste as good as a kiss. A customary toast before drinking is Salud, dinero y amor, y tiempo para disfrutarlos ("saluth, deenayro, ee ahmor, ee tyempo pahra deesfrutahrlos")—Health, wealth, and love, and time to enjoy them.

Family and Community Dynamics


The structure of the Spanish family has come to resemble the American and European pattern. Grandparents often live in their own house or a retirement home; women frequently work outside the home. The obligation of children to personally care for elderly parents, however, is somewhat stronger among Spaniards—even those raised in the United States—than among the general American population; a parent often lives part of the year with one child and part with another. The traditional practice of one daughter not marrying in order to live with and care for the parents during their last years has not been maintained in this country. The traditional pattern of Hispanic mothers being completely devoted to their children—especially the boys—while fathers spent much of their time socializing outside the home has diminished. Despite various changes within the family structure that broadened women's roles, most community leaders are men.

At one time, young Spanish women were allowed to date only when accompanied by a chaperon, but this custom has been entirely discarded. Family pressure for a "respectable" courtship—a vestige of the strongly emphasized Spanish sense of honor—has been largely eroded in both Spain and the United States. Long engagements, however, have persisted, helping to solidify family alliances while children are still relatively young, and giving the couple and their relatives a chance to get to know each other well before the marriage is formally established.

Because careers outside the home are now the norm for Spanish women, differences in the schooling men and women pursue are minimal. A large segment of the community stresses higher education, and, in line with the sharper class distinctions that differentiate Spain from the United States, professional pursuits are highly respected. A significant number of Spanish physicians, engineers, and college professors have become successful in the United States.


Spanish communities in the United States, in keeping with their strong regional identification in Spain, have established centers for Galicians, Asturians, Andalucians, and other such groups. Writing in 1992, Moisés Llordén Miñambres—the specialist in emigration patterns from Spain—regarded this as a given, a natural condition, and referred in passing to the "ethnic" grouping of recent Spanish emigrants reflecting the individual characteristics of the "countries" from which they come. But these were certainly not the only type of community organizations to spring up in the United States; a variety of clubs and associations were formed. The listing by Llordén Miñambres shows 23 in New York City, eight in New Jersey, five in Pennsylvania, four in California, and lesser numbers in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York State, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Florida.

Llordén Miñambres divides these organizations into several categories. Beneficent societies, such as the Unión Benéfica Española of New York, have aimed to provide charitable help for the needy, bury the poor, and provide information and recommendations to Spanish immigrants. Mutual aid societies, such as the Española de Socorros Mutuos "La Nacional," founded in New York in 1868, began as examples of trade union associations, and were important in providing families with medical care and help in times of economic crisis. The members of educational and recreational societies usually were drawn from among the more successful members of the local Spanish community; activities included literary readings and musical performances, banquets, and dances. There have also been athletic associations, such as the Sporting Club of New York; Spanish chambers of commerce; and purely cultural associations that set up lectures, museums, and plays, such as the Club Cervantes in Philadelphia. And finally, there have been associations based on religious and political beliefs, such as those that supported the Spanish Republic during and after the Fascist uprising.


Many Spanish Americans are less active in Catholic church activities than was common in past generations in Spain; they rarely change their religious affiliation, though, and still participate frequently in family-centered ecclesiastical rituals. In both Spain and the United States events such as first communions and baptisms are felt to be important social obligations that strengthen clan identity.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Since Spanish American entrance into the middle class has been widespread, the employment patterns described above have largely disappeared. This social mobility has followed logically from the fact that throughout the history of Spanish immigration to the United States, the percentage of skilled workers remained uniformly high. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, for example, 85 percent of Spanish immigrants were literate, and 36 percent were either professionals or skilled craftsmen. A combination of aptitude, motivation, and high expectations led to successful entry into a variety of fields.

Politics and Government

With the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in 1936 a number of intellectual political refugees found asylum in the United States. Supporters of the overthrown Spanish Republic, which had received aid from the Soviet Union while under attack from fascist forces, were sometimes incorrectly identified with communism, but their arrival in the United States well before the "red scare" of the early 1950s spared them the worst excesses of McCarthyism. Reacting against the political climate in Franco's Spain, Spanish Americans have tended to vote Democratic. Until the end of the dictatorship in Spain in 1975 political exiles in the United States actively campaigned against the abuses of the Franco regime. They gained the sympathy of many Americans, some of whom, during the war, formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought in Spain against the Fascists.

Individual and Group Contributions


Among the political refugees from the Spanish civil war was Pablo Casals (1876-1973), an internationally celebrated cellist. In addition to his lyrically beautiful playing, he was known for his adaptations of Spanish folk music, especially from his own region of Cataluña. He was also active in efforts to help other victims of the civil war.

Similar in terms of political position was the novelist Ramón Sender (1902-1982); after fleeing the Franco regime to Mexico and then Guatemala, he finally settled in the United States. Professor of Spanish literature at the University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, and University of California, he published in this country under the pen name of José Losángeles. He is well known for his depiction of the impact of political events on human lives, as in the short novel Requiem por un campesino español ( Requiem for a Spanish Peasant ). He managed to keep a sense of humor throughout the aftermath of the Spanish civil war, and humor is paramount in his Nancy novels in which the protagonist is a typical American undergraduate student.

The poet Angel González (1925– ), an Asturian from a republican family who experienced the civil war as a child, has been the clearest and most honored lyrical voice to describe the emotional fatigue and near despair of life under the Franco dictatorship. Living in the United States but traveling frequently throughout the Hispanic world from the 1960s until 1992, he taught during most of that period at the University of New Mexico and has now retired in Spain.

His colleague at the same university is the novelist Alfred Rodriguez (1932– ), winner of literary prizes in both Spain and the United States, including the Spanish government's Golden Letters award for outstanding Spanish-language narrative written in the United States. Born in Brooklyn to immigrants from Andalucía, he sojourned in Spain during the bleakest years that followed the civil war. His work continues the classic Spanish tradition of the picaresque tale, a penetrating and grimly humorous exploration of the strategies for survival in decayed or traumatized societies.


Neurologist Luis García-Buñuel (1931– ) was born in Madrid and immigrated to the United States in 1956. He has headed neurology services in several American hospitals, and since 1984 has been chief of staff at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Phoenix. Thomas García-Borras (1926– ), a leading figure in the American heating oil business, was born in Barcelona and arrived in the United States in 1955. In 1983 he published Manual for Improving Boiler and Furnace Performance, and he is the president of U.S. Products Corporation in Las Vegas.



El Diario/La Prensa.

A major newspaper founded in 1913.

Contact: Carlos D. Ramírez, Publisher.

Address: 143-155 Varick Street, New York, New York 10013.

Telephone: (212) 807-4600.

Fax: (212) 807-4617.

La Gaceta.

A community newspaper.

Contact: Roland Manteiga, Editor and Publisher.

Address: P.O. Box 5536, Tampa, Florida 33675.

Telephone: (813) 248-3921.

Fax: (813) 247-5357.



A magazine on travel, geography, and natural science.

Contact: Elvira Mendoza, Editor.

Address: De Armas Publishing Group, Vanidades Continental Building, 6355 Northwest 36th Street, Virginia Gardens, Florida 33166-7099.

Telephone: (305) 871-6400.

Fax: (305) 871-4939.


WADO-AM (1280).

Known as "La Campeona."

Address: 666 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017.

Telephone: (212) 687-9236.

WAMA-AM (1550).

Address: 5203 North Armenia Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33603.

Telephone: (813) 875-0086.

WKDM-AM (1380).

Address: 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1406, New York, New York 10036.

Telephone: (212) 704-4090.

WLCH-FM (91.3).

Address: Spanish American Civic Association, 30 North Ann Street, Second Floor, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602.

Telephone: (717) 295-7760.

Fax: (717) 295-7759.

Online: .



Contact: Henry R. Silverman, President.

Address: 1740 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, New York 10019.

Telephone: (212) 492-5500.


Contact: Deborah Durham, Washington Bureau Chief.

Address: 444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 601-G, Washington, D.C. 20001; or 9405 Northwest 41st Street, Miami, Florida 33178.

Telephone: (202) 783-7155; or (305) 471-3900.

Organizations and Associations

Hispanic Institute.

Offers lectures and concerts, maintains archives on Spanish and Portuguese literature and linguistics, and publishes a journal of literary criticism entitled Revista Hispánica Moderna Nueva Epoca.

Contact: Susana Redondo de Feldman, Director.

Address: 612 West 116th Street, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027.

Telephone: (212) 854-4187.

Música Hispana.

Presents concerts of Spanish, Latin American, and classical chamber music, disseminates information about Hispanic music, and offers referral services to musicians and composers.

Contact: Pablo Zinger, Director.

Address: 600 West 111 Street, 3E-1, New York, New York.

Telephone: (212) 864-1527.

Repertorio Español.

Presents and tours Spanish classic plays, contemporary Latin American plays, zarzuela (Spanish light opera), and dance.

Contact: Gilberto Zaldívar, Producer.

Address: 138 East 27th Street, New York, New York 10016.

Telephone: (212) 889-2850.

Twentieth Century Spanish Association of America (TCSAA).

Individuals interested in the study of twentieth-century Spanish literature.

Contact: Luis T. Gonzalez-del-Valle, Executive Secretary.

Address: University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, McKenna Language Building, Campus Box 278, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0278.

Telephone: (303) 492-7308.

Fax: (303) 492-3699.

Unión Española de California.

Organizes cultural events from the traditions of Spain.

Contact: Julián Miguel, President.

Address: 2850 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, California 94112.

Telephone: (415) 587-5115.

Museums and Research Centers

Hispanic Society of America.

Free museum exhibits paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, costumes, and decorative arts representative of the Hispanic culture.

Contact: Mitchell A. Codding, Director.

Address: 613 West 155th Street, New York, New York 10032.

Telephone: (212) 926-2234.

Fax: (212) 690-0743.

Online: .

Southwest Museum.

Collections include artifacts from the Spanish colonial and Mexican eras.

Contact: Thomas H. Wilson, Director.

Address: 234 Museum Drive, Los Angeles, California 90065.

Telephone: (323) 221-2164.

E-mail: Online: .

Sources for Additional Study

Fernández-Shaw, Carlos. The Hispanic Presence in North America from 1492 to Today, M. translated by Alfonso Bertodano Stourton and others. New York: Facts on File, 1991.

Gómez, R. A. "Spanish Immigration to the United States," The Americas, Volume 19, 1962; pp. 59-77.

McCall, Grant. Basque Americans. Saratoga, California: R & R Research Associates, 1973.

Michener, James A. Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett, 1968.

Pereda, Prudencio de. Windmills in Brooklyn. [New York], 1960.

"Spaniards," in Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1980; pp. 948-950.

User Contributions:

Joseph A. Perez
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May 23, 2006 @ 4:16 pm
Having both sides of my family immigrating to Hawaii from Spain at the turn of the 20th Century and being the pseudo family Historian, I appreciated this article. I will send this article to my three children.

Thank you,
manuel rodriguez Jr
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Sep 4, 2007 @ 8:08 am
Great article well balanced. I to am the granson of two families from Spain via Hawaii at the turn of the 2oth century. My fathers side is the Galligo's and mothers side Andulsia. The civil war all over again. I to will share this article with my family. Thank you for well rounded article.

Many Thanks
Manuel Rodriguez Jr
Eric Medina
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Oct 13, 2007 @ 9:09 am
Thank you for this very informative artical.I am a third generation spaniard who loves his heritage ang up bringing.This artical is a very good tool in explaining my background to those who are interested. MUCHAS GRACIAS! ERIC MEDINA
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Nov 20, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
Repeating only what others are saying, "Thank you for this very informative article." My Spaniard ancestry comes via a most unlikely path from Spain, to far reaches of the Pacific, and eventually to San Francisco! My maternal Great-grandfather was Castillian, born in Madrid; his wife (great grandmother) was also Castillian. Great grandfather was an engineer in the civil service of Spain and was sent, taking his wife, to the then-Spanish territory of Saipan, Marianna islands, in the Pacific. There my grandfather was born in 1897. When Spain lost the Spanish American war in 1898, this territory went to Germany who held it until 1919, when it became a League of Nations TRUST, administrated by the Japanese. My great grandparents remained in Saipan, where they continued to own land and operated commercial and business endeavors. My grand father, born in Saipan, married my grandmother, born in Saipan to parents (my great grandparents)from Seville area of Andalucia; they, too, arrived in Saipan/ Mariana Islands during Spain's rule, and were educators/ teachers, and remained in Saipan when Spain handed off the territory to Germany in 1899 (a result of the defeat of Spain by the USA). These Castillian - Andalucian grandparents begat my mother in 1935, along with 9 siblings. The Spanish population, rather large, resided mostly in Saipan, lived a somewhat upper middle class life and kept "aloof" from much of the population that was from earlier intermarriage of Spanish men (soldiers/explorers) and the native Chamorro inhabitants (meztizo). Actually, by 1700, 95% of Chamorro males had been killed off during the many wars they fought against Spanish rule, leaving only the women who mostly intermingled with the Spanish males, and by 1900, the population in the northern Marianna islands consisted of 65% Spaniard-Chamooro mix and the rest of European ancestry. However, through the 1900s the Spanish population began leaving, returning to Spain or going to Hawaii or the mainland USA. (Beginnning with American rule, the USA began bringing in other Pacific islanders, i.e., the Phillipines, and other areas of Polynesia, that TODAY the unique Spanish - Chamorro mix is virtually no more; the Spanish families were virtually gone, having lost all in World War II, by 1960. The USA returned only land and property to those who could claim native Chamorro ancestry, which excluded the many Spanish-ancestry families who had been there for generations!). My mother and her siblings, after the deaths of my grandparents, immigrated to San Francisco or to Spain in the early 1950's, first as university students, but by then the territory was now USA, thus, their status allowed an expedited path to USA citizenship; and, also, the Spanish population from the Marianna islands spoke English as a second language [they saw the future], along with speaking Spanish and the local Chamooro! ... My Spanish-ancestry mother... who is often mistaken for Italian or Greek ... married my father, who is of Scots-Irish WASP ancestry, but that's another great adventure.
Eric Medina
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Sep 28, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
This is a very informative page and I think every Spanish American and also anyone with Spanish heritage should read this wonderfull page. My Mother is Spanish whose parents came from Malaga,Spain. My father is Mexican American,but has More of a Spanish heritage than native. I love Everything about Spain and love my heritage.If anyone can send me anymore info about The Spanish presence in America I would greatly appreciate Thank you!!
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Feb 22, 2010 @ 5:17 pm
Thank you for a refreshing and articulate summary of the Spanish way of life through immigration, food, family, etc. It was very interesting. My grandmother's family is from Fuentesauco in the Province of Zamora west of Madrid and my grandfather's family is from Malaga in the south. As children (she was 9 and he was 15) they came with their families to America via Hawaii during the Hawaiian's governments offer of a job, education for children and a 5-year committment. I have been researching my family history and so far, cannot find mention of the ethnic settlements during 1911-1917. The article has given me much food for thought and I applaud your completeness!
Lewis Mcleod-Gomez
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Jun 26, 2010 @ 12:12 pm
Complete article, my family came from Spain at the turn of the XXth century. The first to settle in Boston was my grandfather, who was a shipyard worker in Santander (North of Spain), as soon as he landed in Boston he got to work as a home builder. Once after he had made enough money to set up a grocery bussiness, he brought in her fiancee (my grandmother)born in a small mountain hamlet in the Cantabrian region (north of Spain)to marry. They had six children, one of them was my mother. For part of my father I'm scottish,in fact I'm entirely proud of both my Latino-Mediterranean and Celtic backgrounds. Long live Spain and Scotland.
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Sep 13, 2010 @ 11:23 pm
Concise information here! Those of us sharing this history can readily identify characteristics of our Spanish heritage. My both sets of grandparents came from Santander, Spain at the turn of the 20th century. My parents were born in USA. I have spent much time in Spain. As a contemporary realist painter, I have paintings that capture the feeling of my ancestral city, and provide flash-back to the childhood memories from extended visits. I had a one-woman exhibit at the Museo in Santander (1984).
Check out my web-site:
Look under the headings of "paintings" for narratives

I am eager to see the exhibition at NYU opening this week (9/17/10) of photographs of immigrants to NYC from northern Spain at the time of my grandparents coming.
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Mar 17, 2011 @ 11:23 pm
I was glad to see this article! I did notice a few mistakes in the language deal. spaniards still speak really different with a few slang words, v as vj not b, and h is not silent but smooth. it is very hard to determine, yet it is there. there is actually still a group out there of spaniards. I am finally, through research, finding more and more, more than 4 generation immigrates from spaniard heritage and never any mestizo. Also, some of the distinctions with spaniards are determined similiarly to hispanic appearance, but hispanic is only a culture and word, not an ethnicity. I am spaniard, scottish, everything white/caucasian/european, but I am midbrown from it all that I look just like a mextizo, but I am not. Where I grew up all spanish influence was discriminated,taunted, or hurt. Spaniarads have to deal with that sometimes in the USA rural areas, so that needs to show realization that spaniards are not always middle or upper class. In school, bullying towards me was just 'cause of my heritage partially. My father is white, but from mexico and our immediate family was one of the main links to be spaniard/italian/gaelic portuguese-conquistador heritage. My mother is American and white, and she comes from Irish, Scottish, English, German, Dutch, so forth.. It goes on! I am proud that I am all of those cultures, but I never centralize to one origin, one ethnicity, nor one culture 'cause I have several.
Stefany monroy
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Jan 23, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
this is so helpfult owards my assignment i love it
Bob Blanco
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Feb 16, 2012 @ 8:20 pm
This was a very well written and interesting article. Like most of the others, my family migrating from Andalucia, Spain to Hawaii in the early 1900's. From there, they found their way to San Leandro,CA. At the time, San Leandro had a huge Spanish population.
John Arevalo
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Mar 26, 2012 @ 11:11 am
Under Settlement Patterns, this piece states "In this 1933 photograph, Isabel Arevalo, a descendent of one of California's...displays a comb brought to America by her ancestors in the seventeenth century..." Isabel was my aunt, and I am curious who provided you this photograph, and where they obtained information about her ancestors in the seventeenth century coming to America.
Robert Rodrigues
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Oct 29, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
I know it is confusing to some why my names ends in an "S". though it should be a "Z." Because of the influence of the Portuguese in Hawaii and the lack of understanding of names, the customs agents placed an "s" in my name. My father's side of family comes from the little village of Deifontes, Granada. Your article was very informative; however, it would have added to my knowledge why from 1907 to 1913 several thousand Spaniards left Spain for the canefields of Hawaii. My father was 8 years old when he boarded the "Heliopolis" on March 10, 1907 with my grandfather, grandmother and two uncles, arriving in Hawaii on April 26, 1907. My mother was born in Hawaii of Puerto Rican Parents, whose background is Basque. I lived in Spain for 14 years and enjoyed thoroughly and which my wife and I say, "It was the best years of our lives." These article should be read by all as the stereotype Spaniard of dark hair, dark eyes, lives in their minds. Because so many different ethnic groups lived in Spain, we are a "living pot of ethnicities." We were a family of 11 children - several with red hair, a few regular blondes, a couple brunettes, platinum blondes with hazel eyes and those of us who looked more like Italians and greeks. But most of all, we were Spaniards and loved it. Viva Espana.
Margaret Silva
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Jul 6, 2016 @ 8:08 am
Interesting. My grandfather was a child who came from Madrid, Spain via Hawaii. He was 9 yrs old. It's been hard trying to find parents etc. where could one find such information?
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Jul 24, 2016 @ 2:14 pm
my family is from Lugo, Galicia. they were granted large chunks of caifornia from the queen of spain. most literature is California history, but would like to know more of the lugo familie's involvement in the history of spain. anyone know or come across such information please post or e-mail. live2w@hotmail.
Jackie Labadie
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Oct 14, 2016 @ 3:15 pm
My great grandmother came from Spain to the Hawaiian Island around the beginning of the 20th century. Does anyone know what vessels were travelling then? I would love to look up her name on the manifest if possible. Thank you.

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