New York’s Spaniards and the Spanish Civil War

January 24, 2011

As many of you know, the photo exhibition which I curated, “La colonia:  A photo album of Spanish Immigrants in New York, 1898 – 1945,” has been up at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center since September.  I’m delighted to announce that the show has been held over until May.

The show has generated a good deal of press interest in Spain (TV coverage here) and, as a result, I’ve received more than a hundred e-mails from people in Spain with questions, information, and, in some cases, images of relatives who emigrated from Spain to New York in the early decades of the twentieth century.  Some of these stories have interesting Spanish Civil War connections; not surprising, since the vast majority of the Spaniards in New York were working class supporters of the Republic.

For example, one correspondent wrote to me from Brussels about his grandparents (I translate):  “My grandfather was named Vicente Aparisi… and he arrived to Ellis Island on November 11, 1913, aboard the Rochambeau.  My grandmother was named María Pascual, and she came over on La Lorraine, disembarking at Ellis Island on 5 November 1911.  They returned to Spain in 1927 and my mother was born in Valencia the next year.  Since my grandfather spoke both English and French (he had emigrated to America after having worked at Les Halles in Paris), he worked as an interpreter for the International Brigades at the beginning of the war.  He died of tuberculosis, which he had caught while in prison, before I was born in 1963.  My grandmother died in 1972.

(See also: video interviews from the opening of the exhibit.)