Remembering the 1918 Earthquake and Tsunami in Puerto Rico

Posted on
July 29, 2016

On October 11, 1918, an 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the homes of residents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Within minutes, the town was inundated by a large Tsunami. Destruction of buildings and homes in Mayaguez and surrounding towns was widespread. The hospital, theater, municipal buildings, and schools were reduced to rubble and the Agricultural College caught fire. Hundreds died as a result of this earthquake.

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, October 11, 1918. Schuyler Otis Bland Papers, 1862- 1950, Mss. 65 B6.
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, circa 1918. Schuyler Otis Bland Papers, 1862- 1950, Mss. 65 B61.

Congressman Schuyler Otis Bland visited Puerto Rico in 1919. Photographs found in the Schuyler Otis Bland Papers, 1862-1950, and housed at the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library serve as important documentation of the destruction caused by these natural disasters.