• This photo essay depicts life in Puerto Rico, one of America's newest territories. The photographer captured images from the street of market peddlers and coffee hullers, livestock and trade. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Peasant Scenes and Customs, Porto Rico
    • Date
    • 1899
    • Creator
    • Hill, Robert Thomas, 1858-1941.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division. The New York Public Library

  • Filipinos pose in front of a sari-sari store. Scattered all over the Philippines, these shops supplied towns and cities with goods and served as impromptu community centers. Courtesy of University of Wisconsin Digital Collections via Recollection Wisconsin.

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    Filipino men and women standing in front of a sari-sari store, 1907-1916
    • Date
    • 1907/1916
    • Description
    • P. 25, middle right
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Recollection Wisconsin
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

  • A group of flower vendors sit along the streets in Honolulu, Hawaii. They are protesting public photos by hiding their faces and holding a sign that reads: “We object.” Courtesy of University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library via South Carolina Digital Library.

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    "We Object" Street Scene, Honolulu, HI. Flower vendors refusing to allow their pictures taken
    • Date
    • 1899-10
    • Creator
    • Ensor, Joshua Fulton, 1836-1907
    • Description
    • From the Ensor family photograph album.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. For more information contact the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
    • Partner
    • South Carolina Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of South Carolina. South Caroliniana Library

  • An American military officer poses with two Filipino women. Courtesy of University of Wisconsin Digital Collections via Recollection Wisconsin.

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    American man and Filipino women
    • Date
    • 1906/1910
    • Creator
    • Bruner, E. Murray
    • Description
    • An American military officer poses for a photograph with two Filipino women.
    • Rights
    • Copyright E. Murray Bruner Family.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Recollection Wisconsin
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

American imperialism involved more than the politicians, soldiers, businesses, and patriots who designed the empire in their favor. US imperial policies posed deeper questions about the concept of the citizen.

How far did the Constitution follow the flag?

For the millions of men and women in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines who suddenly found themselves living on American soil, one question prevailed: What new opportunities did life in America's empire allow? This section investigates how Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, and Filipinos staked their claim in the American empire. They did not enjoy the full rights and privileges allotted to American citizens. Nevertheless, these individuals navigated courses across the Pacific and Caribbean in search of agency and opportunity. The stories featured here are exceptional, representing the lives of the privileged few. Taken together, however, they reveal how native peoples fashioned themselves as American citizens.