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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

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Elizabeth Guanill

Oral history interview conducted by Monte Rivera

June 18, 1974

Call number: 1976.001.025

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Interview Description

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Guanill

Elizabeth Guanill was born in 1924 to Puerto Rican migrants in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her family came to Brooklyn in 1915. Guanill's mother was a translator and her father was a cab driver and postal employee who later worked for an aviation company and founded a fruit and grocery market on Long Island. Guanill spent her first ten years in Downtown Brooklyn and the remainder of her youth in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. She married her husband Pedro Guanill, a merchant marine, in 1943. Guanill attended Brooklyn College before moving out to eastern Long Island. At the time of the interview in 1974, Guanill and her husband lived in Bayshore, in Suffolk County, Long Island.

In this interview, Elizabeth Guanill describes being born to Puerto Rican migrants in Brooklyn. She recalls the social and cultural life, as well as the ethnic distribution of the Downtown and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn in which she was raised. She also discusses the differences between Puerto Rican migrants that came to New York in years past and those who came more recently, as well as the role of community leaders such as "Sister Carmelita" (Carmelita Bonilla) and Carlos Tapia in the Puerto Rican community of New York City. Interview conducted by Monte Rivera.

This collection includes recordings and transcripts of oral histories narrated by those in the Puerto Rican community of Brooklyn who arrived between 1917 and 1940. The Long Island Historical Society initiated the Puerto Rican Oral History Project in 1973, conducting over eighty interviews between 1973 and 1975. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood ethnicities, discrimination, employment, community development, and political leadership. Also included are newspaper clippings, brochures, booklets about Brooklyn's Puerto Rican community, and administrative information on how the project was developed, carried out, and evaluated.


Guanill, Elizabeth, Oral history interview conducted by Monte Rivera, June 18, 1974, Puerto Rican Oral History Project records, 1976.001.025; Brooklyn Historical Society.


  • Guanill, Elizabeth


  • Emigration and immigration
  • Ethnic identity
  • Ethnic neighborhoods
  • Puerto Rican women
  • Puerto Ricans
  • Religion


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Finding Aid

Puerto Rican Oral History Project records