The Latino Migration Exhibit
at the Windham Textile and History Museum
MEDIA ALERT: New Date and Time for Norma Boujouen
Willimantic, Conn: — Eastern Connecticut State University and the Windham
Textile and History Museum will present, “The Latino Migration Exhibit,” running now
through Dec. 8. The exhibition is being presented at the textile museum, which is located
at 411 Main St. in Willimantic. Museum hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The exhibition is a multi-media documentation of the cultural, religious,
political and economic life of Latinos in Willimantic, the result of almost two years of
collaboration between the museum’s board of directors and Eastern faculty and staff.
The Latino Migration Exhibit is part of a series of ethnic exhibitions by the Windham
Textile and History Museum to document the histories of immigration to Windham and
Willimantic. The exhibit also acknowledges and celebrates the significant contributions
that immigrants from Europe, Canada, and Latin America have made to the development
and growth of the region since the 19th century.
On April 13 from 2-5 p.m., a public reception will take place in the textile
museum as part of the exhibit, and on April 19 at 7 p.m., Norma Boujouen will give a
keynote address on Latino migration to Willimantic.
Latinos in Willimantic are mostly of Puerto Rican heritage. “While the emphasis
is mostly on Puerto Ricans because they still constitute the largest Latino sub-group
in the town, through this multi-media presentation, we have also illustrated the recent
history of immigration from Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic,”
said Ricardo Pérez, associate professor of anthropology at Eastern and guest curator. “We
wanted to create a better representation of the changing landscape of Latino immigration
to the town, which mirrors current trends in Latino immigration to other parts of the
“I am very pleased that our faculty and staff are part of this wonderful exhibit
featuring the life of Latinos in Willimantic,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, “and
we are proud of the faculty members who have curated the exhibit. I think patrons and
visitors of the Textile Museum will be impressed by the breadth of culture and history on
display. I encourage our entire community to visit the exhibit over the coming months.”
The Puerto Rican community of Willimantic has its origins in the numerous
workers who were recruited during the mid-1950s to work in such industries as poultry,
meat packaging, and cotton and textiles, which provided steady employment to a large
number of people in eastern Connecticut.
“The main purpose of this exhibit is to celebrate the historical, economic and
cultural contributions of a very dynamic and diverse Latino community,” said Arroyo.
“This exhibit about the history of Puerto Rican migration to Willimantic will contribute
significantly to educate the general population by focusing on the positive contributions
that Puerto Ricans have made to Willimantic’s history and economy.”
“Though the exhibit room is not large, it is filled to the rafters with an impressive
display of the culture and history of Latinos,” said Jamie Eves, executive director
at the mill museum. “We have secured historical documents and materials that will
be displayed during the exhibit. We also have identified and selected members from
Puerto Rican families that first migrated to town for interviews about the history and
development of the Puerto Rican community and other Latino groups since the mid-20th
The exhibit focuses on four themes: labor migration, culture, religion and politics.
Eves, who is also a part-time lecturer in Eastern’s History Department, provides the
historical background to the economic significance of labor migration to Willimantic’s
economy. Interviews are conducted with Felipe Silva, a man who worked in both the
Hartford Poultry Company chicken processing plant and the American Thread Company,
and Maria Rivera, a woman who worked at the chicken processing facility.
While the cultural focus of the exhibit is on Puerto Ricans, it also includes
information on Mexicans and Mexican celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo. Interviewees
on the exhibit’s videos include Leonor Vásquez, who organized the Puerto Rican
Awareness Week in 1987; Sofía Cortez-Gómez, who chaired Colectivo Mestizal, a
cultural group dedicated to promoting Latino American and Caribbean culture in eastern
Connecticut; Leticia Rodríguez, who volunteers to organize the Cinco de Mayo Festival;
and Luis Díaz, a retired schoolteacher who talked about the historical significance of race
and ethnicity in understanding Puerto Rican culture.
The exhibit was installed by Roxanne Deojay, interim director of the Akus
Gallery at Eastern and Art Professor Imna Arroyo, a well-known Puerto Rican artist
whose work critically explores issues about culture and identity. The exhibition will
showcase Latino artifacts, music, festivals, lectures, traditions, paintings, printmaking,
sculpture and video kiosks, with images reproduced electronically.
Admission for adults is $7; students and seniors are $5; and tickets for members
of groups are $4. Museum members and Kids Club members are admitted free of charge.
Guided tours take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information on the “Latino
Migration Exhibit,” contact Perez at email@example.com ; (860) 465-0191.
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state’s public liberal arts university
and serves approximately 5,400 students each year on its Willimantic campus and
satellite locations. It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure
equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need
accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860)