Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th! To honor it, we’re sharing some key facts about what we’re celebrating, as well as tips for researching your Hispanic ancestry.
September 15th is also the anniversary of the 1821 declaration of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. This month also marks the independence days of Mexico (16th), Chile (18th) and Belize (21st).
President Lyndon Johnson approved Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan expanded the observation to cover a 30-day period ending Oct. 15.
The month celebrates the long and important presence of people of Hispanic descent in North America. The Spanish fortress of St. Augustine, Fla., founded in 1565, is the first continuously inhabited European settlement in North America. The Spanish explored the US Southwest in the 16th century and founded Santa Fe, NM, in 1610.
The website Our American History/La Historia de Nuestra América relates the part the Spanish and Hispanic Americans played in the American Revolution—a role I have to admit I’ve never learned much about.
Other Interesting Hispanic Heritage Facts:
- Celebrations for National Hispanic Heritage Month include film screenings, concerts, festivals with food and crafts and other goods, and museum exhibits.
- There are approximately 53 million individuals of Hispanic ancestry in the United States today.
- Hispanics are the largest ethnic or race minority in the United States, making up approximately 17% of the population.
- It is estimated that by the year 2060, the Hispanic population in the United States will constitute approximately 31% of the population.v
- Of the Hispanic population in the United States, approximately 65% are from a Mexican heritage.
- The following states all have a Hispanic population of at least 500,000 = Washington, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, California and Arizona.
- There are approximately 1.1 million veterans of the United States armed forces who are Hispanic or Latino.
You can research Hispanic roots with help from our Hispanic Heritage Toolkit, which has articles including
- Spanish genealogy glossary
- Mexican research resources
- tips for finding Mexican parish records
- Central and South American Archives