CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Photo Archive

Below is an excerpt from the press release announcing the CUNY Dominican Studies (DSI)’s launch of “First Blacks in the Americas,” a digital photo archive (via Flickr) of images from the colonial Dominican Republic.

The original press release was posted on 17 December 2012 and can be accessed here.

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York (CUNY DSI) announced today that it has made accessible on the Internet an extensive collection of photographs of places and monuments from early colonial times of the Dominican Republic.

The searchable collection, titled “First Blacks in the Americas,” contains more than 2,900 photographs, organized in 57 sets, of historic monuments built during the Dominican Republic’s colonial period. These buildings, churches, houses and sites of industrial and artisan production date to when what is today the Dominican nation began to develop as the first colony of the Spanish empire in the Americas.  

“These photographs constitute a valuable visual tool to understand what life was like for the forebears of today’s Dominicans during their first three centuries of history,” said Dr. Ramona Hernández, director of CUNY DSI. “At the time, these places constituted the diverse scenarios where generation after generation of inhabitants of La Española lived, worked and worshiped as they constructed, first, a colonial society and, then, an independent nation under the name of Dominican Republic.”

Students, teachers, professors, researchers and other persons interested in studying Dominican history can use the images freely for research and educational purposes. The CUNY DSI Library will work with teachers from Upper Manhattan schools to create lesson plans that use the photos and conduct on-campus workshops for students. Commercial use of the photos requires formal permission from CUNY DSI under the Creative Commons license under which the images were published.

Accessing the collection
There are two ways to view the collection of photographs in the CUNY DSI online account on

To view the images by thematic set, go to:, which leads the visitor directly to the CUNY DSI “photostream” page in Flickr. Click on the link to the “First Blacks in the Americas” collection. When the page for that collection opens as a mosaic photos, click on any of the thumbnail image buttons to open the respective set of photographs.

To view images by thematic or subject categories across the entire collection, go to Type the tag-words “CUNY DSI” and “Dominican Republic” or “Hispaniola” in the “search” box, followed by any of the other thematic tag-words that have been assigned to the photographs, like “colonial period,” “colonial churches,” “colonial houses,” “colonial mills,” “colonial walls,” etc.