Staff News

Celebrating the Dominican Library's Impressive Achievements!

Dear friends of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library,

We are pleased to share a message sent to the CUNY DSI mailing list highlighting the latest accomplishments and exciting ventures of the Dominican Library. We appreciate CUNY DSI Director Dr. Ramona Hernández for her constant support with the work we do in the Library and sharing that information with our supporters.

Please continue to read the email newsletter in its entirety below (with some updates):

As you know, the Library is a unique repository for primary and secondary sources about the Dominican Republic and people of Dominican descent in the United States. (Please visit our website to find more information about our collections and opening hours.)

In the early 1990’s, however, the Library was little more than a dream. Through the unwavering belief and advocacy of Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte, along with the support of other academics and community members, this project was brought to fruition. It is a manifestation of the conviction that those of us based in the U.S. and who share a vested interest in Dominican history and the experiences of the Dominican people more broadly need a reliable and knowledgeable space to consult bibliographical materials. The ever-increasing number of visitors received by the Library each year confirms that this belief continues to resonate with the public and especially with new generations.

In the past two years, Chief Librarian Aponte has begun to bear some of the fruits of the idea she planted over two decades ago. Here, I take the opportunity to congratulate our Chief Librarian for having been invited to give the keynote speech at the Commencement Ceremony for this year’s graduates of Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, on May 31 and June 1, 2023. This is a great honor that underlines Prof. Aponte’s many achievements over the years, including becoming the first Chief Librarian of Dominican ancestry dedicated to Dominican studies in the United States. It also no doubt represents a full-circle moment as she is a proud alumna of Hostos.

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Sarah Aponte's Hostos Graduation Photo (Left). Sarah Aponte addresses the audience as Class Salutatorian in 1992. Photo Credit: Eduardo Hoepelman


Congratulations are also in order to Prof. Aponte for her achievement of another feat with little precedent in the U.S. In August 2022, Prof. Aponte was promoted to Full Professor at the City College of New York, a significant achievement since Latina women represent only 3% of all people who hold this rank nationwide.

In addition to a stellarly regarded Chief Librarian and Professor, Prof. Aponte is a highly respected scholar. Her latest book, La presencia dominicana en el periódico Las Novedades, 1876- 1918: De breve mención a propietarios en la ciudad de Nueva York was published in 2022 by the Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña and CUNY DSI’s book series, Historia.


La presencia dominicana en el periódico Las Novedades, 1876-1918: De breve mención a propietarios en la ciudad de Nueva York was the recipient of the 2023 very prestigious librarian award José Toribio Medina, granted annually by the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM)

Among her many activities, Prof. Aponte has also made several public presentations showcasing the work of the Dominican Library and its collections. Some, to name a few, include a presentation at Rutgers University (in March 2022) and, in collaboration with Librarian Jhensen Ortiz, at the Center for Research in the Humanities of the New York Public Library (in February 2023) and at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, M.D. (in October 2022). And, Prof. Aponte, alongside Ortiz, were also featured speakers during our symposium “A Transnational Future? A Digital Humanities Conversation in Dominican and Caribbean Studies”, which took place on May 2. (If you missed it, you can watch the recording of the event on our YouTube channel.)


With so much on her plate, it is well deserved that Prof. Aponte received the Jay Bernstein Memorial Scholarship, announced during the LACUNY Institute just a few days ago (where she also gave a keynote speech), as well as the 2023 Hostos Community College Presidential Medal of Honor for Outstanding Alumna.

In the meantime, Librarian Jhensen Ortiz was also honored this Spring. During the recent 2023 President Faculty and Staff Appreciation and Service Award Ceremony, he was honored for ten years of continued service at the City College of New York, at the CUNY DSI Library.

In addition, librarian Ortiz is the recipient of the prestigious Rare Book School-Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage fellowship for the 2021-2023 period.


Finally, I also want to congratulate Sarah and Jhensen for their success in securing support for a new project. Thanks to their work, the CUNY DSI was recently awarded a $10,000 METRO Digitizing Project Grant by the Metropolitan New York Library Council. Through this grant, our team of librarians will be able to digitize and preserve for generations to come all the lectures recorded at CUNY DSI from 1992-2001, and currently only available on videotape.

Much work has been done, and many more exciting projects undertaken by this dynamic team are on the horizon. Stay tuned!



Guest Contributor: The Scarcity of Documenting Dominican Music in the Digital Age

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CUNY DSI Library volunteer Ethan Srebnick, photo taken by Jessy Pérez

            In 2022, Dr. Paul Austerlitz donated part of his extensive music collection (CDs, VHS, cassettes, among others) to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library. Dr. Austerlitz is a musician, composer, and ethnomusicologist specializing in Afro-Caribbean music and jazz. Most of his work focuses on blending music from the Dominican Republic with forms of jazz. As an ethnomusicologist, he has written seminal works, including Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity (2005, Wesleyan University Press) and Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity (1997, Temple University Press). As a volunteer at CUNY DSI Library, I have had the pleasure of going through the donated collection discovering artists such as Xiomara Fortuna, Dario Estrella, Ray Barretto, and Boni Raposo y La 21 División.

            In general, the music of the Dominican Republic is typically associated with bachata and merengue. It was exciting to learn about Dominican jazz and other genres that are less popular in the Dominican Republic. For instance, Darío Estrella showcases a mixture of merengue and jazz on his album Merengue, Jazz & Capricornio; Xiomara Fortuna's debut album De la Loma al Llano contains various styles of music ranging from palo-salve ("Tenemos Que Organizarnos"), congo ("Trabajo y Más Trabajo"), gagá ("Gagá Lola"), bachata ("Mujer Campesina"), and merengue ("Quiero Abrir Una Ventana").

            I truly understood the importance of cataloging the music donated by Dr. Austerlitz when I couldn't find some of the albums on YouTube or streaming services (Apple Music, Spotify, etc.). Two examples include, Boni Raposo y La 21 División's album Iluminando el Tesoro Escondido as well as Yovanny Polanco y su Mambo Swing's album En Vivo. With no digital files available of these albums, the physical copies (cassette, CD, vinyl, etc.) are the only accessible materials we currently have. Mostly everything is digitally available nowadays, so we underestimate how accessible information is. If there is no record of a document being accounted for, it's as if it never existed. When the music is only being accessible physically this means that we must preserve the physical copy for future generations to learn from.

Samples of audio-visual materials donated by Dr. Paul Austerlitz in the summer of 2022.

            Volunteering with CUNY DSI Library has been a pleasure. I've learned more about my culture and helped document music archival materials for the Dominican community and the generations to come.

By Ethan Srebnick

A History of Dominican Music in the U.S. announced by Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership


Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership included in their newsletter At A Glance a note about our recently launched website  A History of Dominican Music in the United States , the first open-source digital platform narrating the history of Dominican music as it developed during the past century in the United States. 

AHODMIUS screenshotJhensen Ortiz


Donation of Dominican-Related Educational Resources to the Bronx Community College Library

Pic 1The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library donated over 500 Dominican-related materials to the Bronx Community College Library (BCC) to serve their growing Dominican and Latino student population. BCC Professor and Librarian Nelson Santana picked up the materials and stated that this donation will enrich student’s accessibility to materials on the Dominican Republic while simultaneously increasing the library’s holdings on Dominican studies.

Pic 3 Pic 4We hope this donation will help the BCC student and faculty to expand their knowledge on Dominican studies. 

Jhensen Ortiz


BuzzFeed’s Pero Like producers Julissa Calderón and Gadiel Del Orbe visit CUNY DSI

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After our tribute to Normandía Maldonado last week, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives and Library was fortunate to receive this morning Julissa Calderón and Gadiel Del Orbe from BuzzFeed's “Pero Like” producers. They came to film a video about the historical legacy of Normandía Maldonando and interviewing members of the staff Assistant Director Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte, and Archivist Jessy Pérez.

The Normandía Maldonado Collection was on full display with photographs, letters, flyers, and posters that illustrate her achievements throughout her life.

Julissa Calderón is Doña Normandía’s niece and came to learn about her contributions from other people outside her family. We would like to thank Julissa and Gadiel for coming to us and utilizing her collection to share Doña Normandía's story on such a large online platform. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product in the coming weeks!

Jhensen Ortiz



Dr. Lissette Acosta-Corniel donates her doctoral dissertation

Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte would like to thank Dr. Lissette Acosta-Corniel for donating her doctoral dissertation Towards A theory about Spanish Women in Sixteenth Century Hispaniola to our library.As an esteemed colleague CUNY Dominican Studies Institute staff is extremely proud of her work and her journey as a promising young scholar. 


Acosta-Corniel, Lisette. Towards A theory about Spanish Women in Sixteenth Century Hispaniola. Diss. University at Albany, State University of New York, 2013. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2013. Print

    This dissertation is an inventive study about the Spanish women of Hispaniola, the first European settlement of the Americas. She analyzes the lives of Spanish women in sixteenth century Hispaniola who otherwise never have been accurately identified and in the process have been omitted from history. Furthermore, the dissertation provides a research guide about Spanish women in sixteenth century Hispaniola through informative case studies and vignettes of the lives of these women. This dissertation argues the participatory role of Spanish women in the development of a society under patriarchal control and illuminates the ways the theories of micro and macro development, women as a colony, injuries speech, discourse analysis, among many other topics that give a comprehensive stance within the confined spaces that Spanish women were made to live.
   Part of the methodological approach she used to analyze the topic was primary documents in books, microfiche, and secondary sources. Her research took her to visit Archives and Libraries in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Spain. The pursuit to find information about the Spanish women who came to the New World is certainly stimulating and pioneering. This dissertation can be of interest to students, researchers, historians and as well as the general public interested in historiography of Spanish colonialism, Spanish women of colonial Latin America, and colonial period in Dominican Republic or Hispaniola. 

    Dr. Lissette Acosta-Corniel also took part in developing the online Spanish Paleography Tool Project at CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (Click here to see the project).She also appears in a video on YouTube talking about the paleography tool (Click here to see the video) explaining how extremely significant it was for her while she was working on her PhD dissertation. 

Jhensen Ortiz

Una de las nuestras dona su segunda colección de poesía Viandante en Nueva York a la biblioteca dominicana

La Profesora Sarah Aponte agradece a Osiris Mosquea por su donación y felicita su trabajo como poeta y activista en la ciudad de Nueva York. Actualmente Osiris está trabajando como asistente a la biblioteca dominicana.

Mosquea, Osiris. Viandante en Nueva York. New York, N.Y.: Artepoética Press, 2013. Print.

Este libro es un reflejo de la vida cotidiana y los matices culturales de la diáspora dominicana en la ciudad de Nueva York. Mosquea muestra con vívidos detalles los aspectos esenciales del trabajo, el hogar y la comunidad que ella ha llegado experimentar. Su voz te lleva en un viaje, no como un viajero, sino un residente a través de la ciudad de Nueva York desde una perspectiva profunda, personal y emblemática. Su imaginación es el vehículo que une a la multitud de sentimientos que se expresan acerca de la ciudad de Nueva York.

Este libro es un recurso para estudiantes, investigadores y la comunidad interesada en la poesía y la experiencia de la diáspora dominicana en la ciudad de Nueva York desde el punto de vista literario.

Jhensen Ortiz

Library Intern

New publication on the portrayal of Dominicans in the International Press by Sully Saneaux and Dr. Ramona Hernández

Prof. Sarah Aponte would like to acknowledge the donation and recent publication of Columnist Sully Saneaux and CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Director Dr. Ramona Hernandez.

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Saneaux, Sully, and Ramona Hernández. La República Dominicana Y La Prensa Extranjera Mayo 1961- Septiembre 1963 (Desde La Desaparición De Trujillo Hasta Juan Bosch). Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña, 2013. Print.

The authors analyze the relationship of the Dominican Republic and principal international news organizations from May 1960 to September 1963. The authors were interested in finding what false pretenses and inaccurate information was being publicized during this time period. In addition, it was crucial for them to detect the accuracy of the news, the propaganda, and subjectivity from the reporters in the news media. They examine articles from news organizations in Portugal, Italy, and China, to name a few.

The book will definitely resonate with Dominicans who were affected by the political instability following the five years after Trujillo's death and provide readers an understanding of the perceptions in the news coverage relating to political events in the Dominican Republic during this time period.

La República Dominicana Y La Prensa Extranjera is essential reading to political science and history students as well as researchers working in the fields of Cold War studies, Media Communications, Journalism, Dominican History, Dominican Politics, Juan Bosch, and U.S. foreign policy.

Jhensen Ortiz

Library Intern


Amaury, you will be missed! Te extrañaremos!


Please join us in wishing our esteemed colleague AMAURY RODRIGUEZ the best in his new position and future endeavors. We would like to thank him for his support, dedication and professionalism.

Le deseamos a nuestro estimado colega AMAURY RODRIGUEZ lo mejor en su nuevo cargo y proyectos futuros. Nos gustaría darle las gracias por su apoyo, dedicación y profesionalismo.

Dr. Ramona Hernández quoted in Wall Street Journal article on newcomers and small businesses in the US

The Wall Street Journal recently published a very informative piece on the role that immigrants hailing from Latin American, Asian and South East Asian countries have played in keeping small businesses alive. Among the immigrant communities under discussion are Cubans, Vietnamese, Koreans, Mexicans, Chinese, Indian and Dominicans. The WSJ article makes the assertion that immigrants “are more inclined to own small businesses than native-born Americans”. Dr. Ramona Hernández, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City University of New York (CUNY DSI), is quoted on the transition of small Dominican-owned neighborhood grocery stores to big chain supermarkets.

Additionally, the article looks at census data from the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) to examine how immigrant-owned small businesses impact the US economy. In that regard, it looks at how mom and pop shops as well as small businesses that provide services have sprung up throughout the United States since the 1980s in areas beyond major urban centers where immigrant populations have traditionally settled.

To read the article click on this link: