Photo by Héctor Méndez-Caratini
Puerto Rican Folklorist
Ricardo Alegría was a highly regarded historian, archeologist, and leading researcher on the culture and language of the Taínos. Born in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, he was one of the first scholars responsible for the conservation of the cultural heritage that Puerto Ricans treasure so much today. He received his BA in archeology at the University of Puerto Rico in 1942, his master’s at the University of Chicago in 1947, and his PhD at Harvard University in 1954. He was awarded a certificate in museology from the Museum of Natural History of Chicago.
Don Ricardo established two key institutions—in 1955, the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (Institute of Puerto Rican Culture) and in 1976, the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe (Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean)—committed to preserving and promoting the island’s rich traditional life and culture. He directed the program for the conservation and restoration of the monuments and historical areas of Puerto Rico. Among the monuments restored under his direction are the Ceremonial Center of the Utuado Indians, the Ruins of Caparra, and the Castle of San Jerónimo. Known as the father of modern archeology of Puerto Rico, under his leadership, he brought together the largest team of professionals from all branches in defense of culture. Among his most outstanding publications are:
The Aboriginal Population of Antilles and their Relationship with other Areas of America (1948)
Historia de nuestros Indios [History of our Indians] (1950)
Cuentos folclóricos de Puerto Rico [Folktales of Puerto Rico] (1967)