Under the direction of Dr. Juan M. González Lamela, executive director of the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (FPH) and the turn of the century leadership of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), work was begun in 2002 to develop the first Puerto Rico Online Encyclopedia (PROE). This digital publication was initiated thanks to an NEH grant.
The main focus of the editorial policy is to serve the needs of students. It also serves the Puerto Ricans and their descendants who live in the United States, which has always been of particular interest to the NEH. Likewise, it is our hope that the general public that may be interested in the Puerto Rican experience will access the pages of the Encyclopedia. The publication is available free of charge to all users.
In the first phase of this effort, the project was planned with a vision of melding the tradition of the humanities with technology. Other encyclopedia projects initiated by the NEH, such as the New Georgia Encyclopedia served as a guide for structuring and organizing the topics, as well as for editorial policy. These other projects were also used as models for designing and conceptualizing a bilingual electronic publication, so that it would be useful both for residents of the Island and those who live elsewhere. An important achievement in the planning stage was obtaining financial support from the Puerto Rico Legislature, as well as the Executive branch, through the approval in 2003 of Joint Resolution Number # 891, which granted $150,000 annually for five years to support development of the Encyclopedia. For the years 2009 through 2011, the project has a donation of $50,000 per year from the Angel Ramos Foundation. Another donation was received from the Legislature through Resolution # 97 in 2009, which granted $9,000 for the development of multimedia content.
To ensure the quality of the content presented in the Encyclopedia, the FPH signed a collaborative agreement with six higher education institutions: the University of Puerto Rico, the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, the Ana G. Méndez University System, the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York, and the Center for Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Studies (SUNY). The Department of Natural Resources also participated in the collaboration agreements.
The PROE is organized into 22 subject areas structured in 15 sections, which include essays and articles by academics, researchers, and subject matter experts. Each area includes a general overview and an increasing number of specialized articles of an expository and descriptive nature. Some of these materials have been adapted from previously published texts that have been evaluated by the PROE committee and editorial team for the purpose of approving their inclusion. In-depth articles have also been included in the different sections and subject areas. An editorial policy has been established and a Guide for Authors, included in our site, is available for those who are interested in contributing.
The site, the navigation system, the audio, video and still photography galleries, as well as the animated elements have been prepared by design, information systems, and digital art professionals.
In 2008, we are offering the public the initial phase of the project. The Encyclopedia also functions as a means for disseminating the resources and projects related to the study of Puerto Rican reality sponsored by the FPH. The electronic nature of this publication allows for constantly updating content, a task on which FPH staff and the editorial team will focus their efforts during the coming decade.