Your portal to Puerto Rico Genealogy!


      History in a Capsule!

Seminario Conciliar San Ildefonso
founded in 1832

1906 Graduate School

During Spanish rule, teaching was limited to Christian subjects. Prior to 1840 there were very few books on the island. First free primary school was founded in the early 19th century in San Juan. In 1937 it was determined that students learn English. To this day, both Spanish and English are required subjects. Education is mandatory between the ages of 6 and 17 and most attend for 12 years (six years of elementary school, three of junior high, and three of senior high school). Literacy is 90%. With over 1500 public schools, over 500 private schools, and over 50 colleges, PR rank 6th in the world for students continuing to college.

The University of Puerto Rico System was founded in 1903. It is the oldest institution of higher education in Puerto Rico, with a number of branches including those in Arecibo, Bayamón, Cayey, Humacao, Mayagüez, Ponce, and San Juan.

The first University of Puerto Rico  graduating class in June of 1907, left photo. Left to right and standing: Jose M. Caraballo, America Puig, Loaiza Cordero, Selenia Boneta, Concepcion Orcasitas and Luis Cintron. Sitting: Alejo Guevara, Isabel Andreu, Carlota Matienzo, Adelaida Lopez, Agustina Mussa and Juan N. Herrero.

In 1993 Puerto Rico declared both Spanish and English the island’s official languages.

Puerto Rico has many libraries, including the Carnegie Public Library, the library of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño (a privately run Puerto Rican cultural organization), and the Volunteer Library League, all in San Juan. Several of the other larger cities and towns also have municipal libraries. Many universities have libraries as well. See our Research Tools & Reference Materials section for additional information and listings of libraries and archives.

c. 1910 UPR postcard

      Early Images. . .

Baldorioty, San Juan


Pupil's Report Card for
Antonia Torres,
Ponce High 1920

Teacher Diploma from 1870

School bus transit token.
One side reads:
"For School (School in Center) Children Only".
The other reads:
"Porto Rico School - R.Y. L.T. & P.R. Co."

Maria Grillasca

  A room without books is like    
a body without a soul.
Quote by Cicero

Ms. La Ross Kindergarden
Emerson School
San Juan, 1909

Mrs. Timothee's Room
Emerson School
San Juan, 1909

 McKinley Day School, San Juan
McKinley Day School
San Juan


1913 High School Graduation
Arecibo, PR

Left to right Ismael Colon, Angel Torres,
Emelina Mattei, Manuel A. Astor
and Jose Sifontes


[Names mentioned in article]

  • Prof. Jose A. Cortes Cordero
  • Eliseo S. Fortis
  • Adolfo Gonzalez
  • Daniel Blanco
  • Hortensia Haddock

1954 Ponce Catholic Univ.
[Names mentioned in article]

  • Georgina Romero de Escobar, Ponce

  • Digna Emmanuelli de Pagan, Ponce

  • Carmen Rivera de Murphy, Coamo

  • Julita Alonso Fernandez, Ponce

  • Hilda Bauza Villamides, Ponce

  • Leocadio Santiago Garcia, Ponce

  • Victor Manuel Zayas, Santa Isabel

Escuela Padre Rufo
5th grade class of 1937
Adelaida Dalmau Montaner

Photograph courtesy of
Isabel Garcia Dalmau,
daugher of Adelaida.


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      Suggested Reading and References
  • Historia Documental de la Educación en Puerto Rico by Alfonso Lopez Yustos, Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas, 1992, 3rd edition. ISBN: 0-929441-12-5
  • La Americanización en PR y el Sistema de Instrucción Pública [1900-1930], Aida Negron de Montilla, 1976,
    ISBN: 0-8477-0101-8
  • Mi Escuelita - Educación y Arquitectura en PR, Angela Lopez Borrero, 2005, ISBN: 0-8477-0120-4
  • Educación y Cambio Social en PR, Angel G. Quintero Alfaro, 1972,  ISBN: 0-8477-2757-2

Last Update July 31, 2015
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