Intern Reflections on Archival Research and Jesús Galíndez Suárez

By Melany Cabrera, North Houston Early College High School

Seven weeks have passed since I started working as an intern for the Recovering the U.S Hispanic Literary Heritage Program and Arte Público Press. I can safely and surely say that I will leave with newfound knowledge and experience. Although my internship was virtual, I did not think it was any less rigorous. I took it as a serious job and dedicated my time to doing research that will assuredly cause impact by bringing the literature of disenfranchised Hispanic/Latino authors to mass audiences. 

At the beginning of my research agenda I had some troubles, but as I asked Dr. Carolina Villarroel and Dr. Lorena Gauthereau questions to clear my doubts; my troubles slowly began to cease. I wanted to be careful with how I input and handled data in the data spreadsheet I was assigned. I was also wary of the information I found online since I did not want to input false information. So, to avoid any mishaps I was careful from where and how I obtained data. When I obtained information about a person I would cross check the information with another source to be sure. If I was not sure of the information that I found, then I did not input it in the spreadsheet. Many times, the information was not directly given so I had to use context clues.

Through this research process I was able to get a sense of how journalists, writers, poets, and people from other professions were treated in the past centuries and compare it to the present. Not only was this internship a great opportunity to expand my knowledge but also to strengthen my research skills and work ethic.

Black and white photo of a man wearing a white coat
Jesús Galíndez Suárez, photo from EcuRed

While researching, I came across the writer Jesús Galíndez Suárez. I immediately became intrigued with his story when I read that he mysteriously disappeared. Galíndez Suárez was born in 1915 in Amurrio, Spain. Early in his life he was a part of the Basque Nationalist Party and a loyalist in the Spanish Civil War. He then moved to the Dominican Republic for 6 years. As he began to investigate Rafael Trujillo, a Dominican dictator–who was infamously known for being corrupt and brutal–and his government, he uncovered secrets and fled to New York in 1946 for his safety as he felt threatened. In New York he pursued a doctorate in Political Science and worked at Columbia University. Galíndez Súarez continued his investigation on Trujillo and soon published his findings in the Hemisphere’s best-known and widely circulated journals. For this reason, he became a target and enemy of Trujillo’s state. In 1956, he published his book titled The Era of Trujillo, a case study of the Spanish-American dictatorship. In the same year, just as negotiations for its publication in English had begun, Galíndez Súarez disappeared on the night of March 12.

Published investigations indicated Galíndez Súarez was drugged by Dominican agents and smuggled out of the United States illegally by a light plane piloted by also kidnapped Gerald Murphy, who also disappeared. It was in Dominican Republic where both Galíndez Súarez and Gerald Murphy were seemingly murdered: Suárez for being outspoken with regard to Rafel Trujillo’s dictatorship and Gerald Murphy for being a witness. To cover the apparent murder of Murphy, Trujillo’s men also murdered Murphy’s friend and fellow pilot, Octavio de la Maza Vásquez. The Military Intelligence Service of the Dominican Republic forged de la Maza Vásquez’s suicide note; the note insinuated that he had killed Murphy and himself to end their love affair. For some in the U.S Senate, their deaths or disappearances were clear indicators that the US government should withdraw their support of Trujillo. Trujillo’s image was further tarnished by the negative media coverage he received as the main suspect and cause of the three lost lives. Trujillo attempted to clear or lighten his image by offering large bribes to influential U.S citizens and spreading propaganda. Some may say Galíndez Súarez caused more impact when he disappeared then when he was alive, nonetheless he certainly caused an influential uproar.

I can say that Galíndez Súarez was incredibly brave for voicing out what many others surely wanted to reveal. Since the moment he began his investigation, he knowingly became a target. I can confidently say that there were many journalists and writers like Galíndez Súarez. They were conscious of the many risks their actions could have but continued in hopes of achieving reform. In current society, it is not as taboo or risky to reveal secrets or uncover what many want to keep in the shadows, especially elites, but there are still consequences. Bribery happens more often than death threats to prevent instigators from releasing information to the public but of course this depends on a country’s level of scrutiny. The more scrutiny a country has, the more secrets it covers, and the higher risks whistleblowers have vice versa. 

To end this blog, I would like to thank my two supervisors who provided me with the resources to allow my research agenda. I was able to expand my skill set and get a better understanding on how databases aid research. I will take everything I learned from this internship to my next. My path towards my ideal career began with this internship and will continue moving forward until I become the successful woman I expect myself to become.

Bibliography

Caudillos: Dictators in Spanish America. (1995). United Kingdom: University of Oklahoma Press.

Hall, M. R. (2000). Sugar and power in the Dominican Republic : Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos. United Kingdom: Greenwood Press.

“Jesús Galíndez Suárez.” EcuRed. https://www.ecured.cu/. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.


Melany Cabrera is a 2020 Bank of America Summer Intern at the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. She is a rising senior at North Houston Early College High School (NHECHS). She is interested in becoming a lawyer to help underrepresented communities. She applied to this internship to gain work experience for her future career path. 

The Bank of America internship program is a partnership between SERJobs and Bank of America to provide summer work experience for young professionals aged 16-24 who live in Houston. Arte Público Press is among several of the nonprofit organizations that have hosted summer interns.

Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit

black and white group photo

Worker Antifascist Culture in US Spanish-language Periodicals

By Montse Feu, Sam Houston State University

[Featured photo caption: España Libre, Feb. 16, 1962:1. Founders’ picture. From left to right: Jesús González Malo (11th first row); José Nieto Ruiz (4th second row​); Félix Martí Ibáñez (8th second row); Aurelio Pego (5th top row). Should readers identify people in photograph please email Montse Feu at mm017 (at) shsu (dot) edu. Thank you.]

Over the last decade and through several publications, I have shared the story of US Hispanic workers in their fight against fascism, which included fundraising for the victims, grassroots activism, and publication of periodicals. My book, Fighting Fascist Spain. Worker Protest from the Printing Press (2020), shows how workers’ print culture and politics, most prominently anarchism and socialism, shaped their antifascism. Likewise, my co-edited volume, Writing Revolution: Hispanic Anarchism in the United States (2019), examines the ways in which Spanish-language anarchist periodicals established and maintained transnational networks that fought for the emancipation for workers from the late nineteenth through twentieth centuries in the United States, and part of this fight was the eradication of fascism. With this in mind, I have recovered, transcribed, and compiled Spanish Civil War exile correspondence to show its effectiveness as a post-war communication method that antifascist leaders like Jesús González Malo employed to strengthen their resistance networks in the context of transnational anarchism in Correspondencia personal y política de una anarcosindicalista exiliado: Jesús González Malo (1950-1965) (2016).

I research this fascinating topic thanks to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program, which welcomed me as a research assistant while I was working on my PhD coursework. Interested in learning more about Spanish Civil War exile in the United States, I had applied to the University of Houston. My interest, both academic and personal, developed from the fragmented stories of anarchists, the Spanish Civil War, fascist terror, and transatlantic travels to the Americas I heard as a child. My research assistantship mainly consisted of recovering and cataloguing two Spanish Civil War Periodicals: Frente Popular (1936-1939) and España Libre (1939-1977). One of the first texts I catalogued was a refugee narrative. It portrayed refugees in their miles-long walk toward France at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The piece especially caught my attention because it described their crossing of my native hometown near Barcelona. From that moment, disseminating such hidden stories of resistance has been my calling, the root of much of my happiness, and the greatest privilege I have experienced.

Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit, sponsored by the Grants-in-Aid of the US Latino Digital Humanites (USLDH) program, visualizes the story of the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (SHC) as told in Fighting Fascist Spain (2020). When the Spanish Civil War broke out, about two hundred US Hispanic cultural and mutual aid societies came together in what became known as the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (SHC). The SHC was devoted to its antifascist cause, particularly through its activism and the publication of Frente Popular (1936-1939), which changed its name to España Libre (1939-1977), until democratic elections were held again in Spain. España Libre (1939-1977) was the longest sustained antifascist bilingual periodical in the United States. Twentieth century U.S. Hispanic workers had a clear transnational consciousness: old migrants and new exiles from European fascism coalesced in overlapping communities across the United States and were linked to similar antifascist networks in other countries. Along with affiliated associations, theater groups, rallies, and demonstrations, periodicals provided public spaces of protest and solidarity in the United States.

Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit intends to recover and make available worker antifascist visual culture. As physical objects, images in US Spanish-language periodicals are fragile. This digital collection will document otherwise disappearing memories of local and global networks of political protest and solidarity. Visual sources recovered in The Exhibit comprise but are not limited to:

  • announcements and photographs of rallies and demonstrations, photographs and obituaries of demonstrators
  • announcements of cultural fundraisers and the antifascist plays, photographs and obituaries of participants
  • cartoons, and photographs and obituaries of artists

Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibit intends to support antifascist researchers, descendants, and the general interested public in their efforts to recover information on victims of fascism and their allies, rebuild broken family stories, and amplify the victims’ voice and perspective.


Montse Feu, P.hD is an associate professor at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Feu recovers the literary history of the Spanish Civil War exile in the United States, US Hispanic periodicals, and migration and exile literature at large. Her most recent book is Fighting Fascist Spain. Worker Protest from the Printing Press, (2020) You can find her online at: https://montsefeu.wixsite.com/montsefeu.

Recuperando las voces hispanas del periódico La Voz de Nueva York (1937-1939)

Por Ana María Díaz-Marcos, Universidad de Connecticut

Cuando era alumna graduada en la Universidad de Masachussetts en Amherst hace más de veinte años tuve la oportunidad de pasar unos días trabajando en la Biblioteca Pública de Nueva York. Mi maestro Antonio Fernández Insuela, de la Universidad de Oviedo, me había invitado a participar en un congreso que conmemoraba el sesenta aniversario del exilio republicano y me propuso presentar algún trabajo dedicado a la prensa escrita por los exiliados. Me fui a Nueva York con juvenil entusiasmo y tuve la suerte del principiante pues ahora, con muchos años de investigación a mis espaldas, sé que no siempre aparece tan rápido aquello que se busca. El primer día encontré una referencia que llamó poderosamente mi atención: “Voz (Nueva York, N.Y. 1937) Spanish Newspaper Co, 1937-1939”. Eran los años de la contienda española y yo había encontrado un tesoro, un periódico publicado allí mismo en español durante la guerra civil con una voluntad radicalmente antifascista, “palpitante de intenciones democráticas y justicieras”, como declara su primer editorial el 19 de julio de 1937 coincidiendo con el aniversario de alzamiento. Después de ese primer número de carácter especial, La Voz comienza a publicarse con regularidad a partir del 24 de agosto de 1937 hasta diciembre de 1939. A partir de ese momento el título pasa a ser La Nueva Voz y la historia de esa segunda época se vuelve incierta porque solamente hay unos pocos ejemplares dispersos. La Voz se vendió a 3 centavos durante esos dos años y se dirigía a un lector bastante concreto: la colonia antifascista formada por hispanos, inmigrantes y exiliados viviendo en ese momento en la costa este de Estados Unidos. Como proclama la publicación Frente Popular La Voz era el “legítimo vocero de la gran masa de la colonia de habla española de América”. Fue, sin duda, un periódico comprometido y combativo que se mantuvo fiel a sus ideales democráticos y principios políticos, como proclamaba en agosto de 1938: “Nuestro lema sigue siendo el mismo: POR LA JUSTICIA SOCIAL, POR LA DEMOCRACIA; CONTRA LA TIRANÍA Y EL FASCISMO”.

En aquel momento pude fotocopiar toda una serie de artículos antifascistas que se convirtieron en los materiales primarios para mi presentación en aquel congreso y también para el artículo que se publicó posteriormente en las actas. Esa carpeta con recortes desapareció en alguna de mis mudanzas de un lado al otro del Atlántico pero me quedó el deseo de retomar algún día esa publicación para prestarle más atención a su contenido político y a sus propuestas en materia de género sexual. De hecho, en enero de 1938 Federica Montseny hacía un emocionado llamamiento desde sus páginas a las mujeres americanas destacando su papel y deber en la lucha antifascista:

¡Mujeres de América! ¡Maestras, intelectuales, empleadas, periodistas, obreras! Donde quiera que estéis escuchadme (…) ¡Ayudadnos! ¡Movilizad vuestras conciencias! ¡Agitad a favor de España y las víctimas del fascismo donde quiera que estéis! Es vuestro deber de antifascistas, de madres, de mujeres dignas, en todo momento.

“La Voz.” Frente Popular. August 30, 1937. Arte Público Hispanic Historical Collection, p. 4.

La beca que recibo a través del programa Recovering the US Hispanic Heritage me permite, finalmente, retomar este proyecto inacabado. La Voz publicó una “Página de la mujer” que contiene información sumamente relevante para entender el feminismo hispánico de los años treinta y la posición de la mujer en esa sociedad inestable y en proceso de lucha y afán de reinvención. Mi propósito es recoger, digitalizar y estudiar una serie de artículos publicados en el periódico por feministas y activistas hispanas y latinas. Muchas de estas escritoras e intelectuales publicaron en La Voz y muchos de esos textos (como el de Montseny) no han sido recogidos o reeditados desde entonces. En 1938, por ejemplo, se publicaron en esa “Página de la mujer” un buen número de artículos firmados por la sufragista mexicana Margarita Robles de Mendoza, fundadora de la Unión de Mujeres Americanas (1934) y residente en Nueva York en aquellos años. Robles de Mendoza escribió artículos sobre los derechos de las mujeres, la explotación de las obreras en las fábricas, el papel de las mujeres en la España republicana y en la lucha antifascista. Otras autoras como la feminista mexicana Blanca Lydia Trejo, la periodista Rosa Amelia Aparicio o la diputada socialista Margarita Nelken, que después se exiliaría y moriría en México, también publicaron en La Voz. Ese activismo intelectual y empeño antifascista implican un esfuerzo absolutamente revolucionario. Mi intención es hacer accesible esos artículos y diseminar las voces de estas intelectuales y activistas para lograr una mejor comprensión de las relaciones entre antifascismo y feminismo. Haciendo un juego de palabras: La voz otorgó voz a discursos antifascistas, feministas, comprometidos con la democracia que se articularon en español desde Nueva York como centro de irradiación y oposición al fascismo. Ahora, ochenta años después de que terminara esa guerra que fue la antesala de la Segunda Guerra Mundial pero también el comienzo de una larga dictadura en España, es un ejercicio necesario de memoria histórica recordar esas voces latinas comprometidas con la causa antifascista.

Díaz-Marcos, Ana María. “El periódico neoyorquino La Voz (1937-1939): Prensa y literatura frente al franquismo.” Sesenta años después: el exilio literario asturiano de 1939: actas del Congreso Internacional celebrado en la Universidad de Oviedo, 20, 21 y 22 de octubre de 1999. Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.

Frente Popular. Arte Público Hispanic Historical Collection. EBSCO.


Ana María Díaz-Marcos es profesora titular de Literatura Española en el Departamento de Literaturas, Culturas y Lenguas de la Universidad de Connecticut. Sus campos de trabajo son la literatura, el teatro, el feminismo histórico y los estudios de género. Su trabajo más reciente es Escenarios de crisis: dramaturgas españolas en el nuevo milenio que se encuentra disponible en acceso abierto.

HILT 2020: Latinx Digital Praxis

***UPDATE: HILT 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19.***

HILT

Registration is open for Humanities Intensive Learning and Training (HILT) 2020. HILT is a 5-day training institute that includes keynotes, ignite talks, and local cultural heritage excursions for researchers, students, early career scholars and cultural heritage professionals who seek to learn more about Digital Humanities theory, practice, and culture. In addition to the conference’s day-time sessions, participants can enjoy opportunities to explore the city through local dining and special events.

This year, HILT will take place at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, May 18-22, 2020. Scholarships to help defray costs are available for students and groups of 5 or more, as well as UNL faculty, staff, and students. (These cannot be combined.) To apply, click here.

Instructors

Carolina Villarroel, Ph.D., C.A. Brown Foundation Director of Research, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, University of Houston

Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Spanish, University of Houston

Latinx Digital Praxis: From the Archive to the Digital

Latinx Digital Praxis: From the Archive to the Digital explores analog and digital methodologies to create scholarship and knowledge around the experiences of US Latinx peoples. Participants will be introduced to the process of developing toolkits and resources to explore archival sources of Latinx peoples while taking into account their historical, cultural and political context. Participants will be guided through processes involved in rescuing materials that have been or could fall through the cracks of the institutional apparatus to ask why and how we can rethink these processes in order to incorporate these underrepresented communities and their history within the institutional discourse. We will interrogate the lived experiences of transnational, exile, native, immigrant peoples which are crucial at the time of researching, reading, understanding and writing about them.

Questions that this course will cover include, but are not limited to:

  • How do we approach US Latinx experience?
  • How do we understand the importance of ethnic materials in the US?
  • How do we approach and incorporate languages other than English into DH?
  • How to identify materials for future projects (research, copyright issues, etc.)?
  • How do we create meaningful and respectful data?
  • How do we work with the community owners of the knowledge?
  • How do we create knowledge and scholarship based on these materials?
  • How do we engage our local and immediate communities?

We expect participants will complete this course with knowledge of how to use digital surrogates to expand access and dissemination of underrepresented collections, as well as develop  plans for community-building and partnerships that could help further the mission and scope of the projects. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach that at its very base questions archival politics and praxis. Additionally, participants will learn about strategies necessary to advocate for programming, grant writing, and faculty and student engagement (undergraduate and graduate).No prior technical knowledge is required in this course. Anyone with an interest in Latinx studies and digital humanities is welcome.This course is based on the work of the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program located at the University of Houston, one of the premier research programs for US Latinx scholarship with a trajectory of more than 27 years of locating, preserving, and making available the written legacy of Latinx in the US since colonial times until 1960.

For more information about HILT, including costs, please visit: http://dhtraining.org/hilt/conferences/hilt-2020/

Workshop: Introduction to Using Digital Tools in Recovery Research

laptop on left, open notebook on right

University of Houston Downtown
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Instructors: Gabriela Baeza Ventura, PhD; Carolina Villarroel, PhD, CA and Lorena Gauthereau, PhD

This workshop explores analog and digital methodologies to create scholarship and knowledge around the experiences of US Latinas/os. This workshop will provide an overview of how to use US Latina/o archival material to create digital projects and assignments in order to contest the historical record. Drawing from the rich collections at the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, we will demonstrate free, easy-to-use software that can be used to create historical timelines, online exhibits of historical photographs/documents and dynamic story maps. We will emphasize methodologies that center US Latina/o experiences and ask participants to consider how the digital space can function as a site of resistance.

Some of the questions that this workshop will include, but are not limited to are the following:

  • How to identify materials for future projects (research, copyright issues, etc.)?
  • How do we create meaningful and respectful data?
  • How do we work with the community owners of the knowledge?
  • How do we create knowledge and scholarship based on these materials?
  • How do we engage local communities?

Participants will take part in a guided activity in which they brainstorm potential digital projects and assignments based on their own research interests. Participants will leave the workshop with knowledge of how to use Recovery’s databases, a list of digital resources, a digital bibliography, a list of free software and draft idea for a potential digital project. No prior technical knowledge is required in this course. Anyone with an interest in US Latina/o studies and digital studies is welcome. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops. Computers will not be provided.

This course is based on the work of the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage and the US Latino Digital Humanities programs located at the University of Houston.

Sign up for workshop by clicking here.

  • Conference participants $20
  • Non-conference participants $50

Spaces are limited. Deadline to sign up: February 14, 2019.

#GivingTuesday

Two hands holding a small gift wrapped in red and white holiday wrapping paper

If you missed #GivingTuesday, don’t worry–it’s not too late to donate to Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage and Arte Público Press!

Your donations help to support our mission to further children’s literacy, create materials for education at all levels and promote Latino culture as part of the national identity of the United States. Your donation is entirely tax-deductible.

You can donate by visiting the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS) donation page at https://giving.uh.edu/class/.

Use the drop down menu under “I would like to make a gift to benefit the following:” to select Arte Público Press and enter a dollar amount. If you would like to further designate this gift specifically for Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery) or the US Latino Digital Humanities program (USLDH), please do so in the text box.

Opportunities: Grants and Postdoc Fellowship

Thanks to generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage is offering two opportunities: 7 Grants-in-aid and 1 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Digital Humanities.

Grants-in-Aid

The Mellon-funded Grants-in-Aid program is designed to provide a stipend to scholars for research and development of digital scholarship in the form of a digital publication and/or a digital project. The grant covers any expense connected with research that will advance a project to the next stage or to a successful conclusion.

Scholars at different stages of their careers (Academics, librarians, advanced graduate students, independent scholars, etc.) are encouraged to apply for a stipend of up to $7,500 for investigative work. Grantees are expected to budget for a 2-day trip to Houston for in-person training at Recovery. We welcome applications in one of the following areas:

  • Identification, location and recovery of any wide variety of historical documents and/or literary genres, including conventional literary prose and poetry, and such forms as letters, diaries, memoirs, testimonials, periodicals, historical records and written expressions of oral traditions, folklore and popular culture. Any documents that could prove relevant to the goals of the program will also be considered. The emphasis is on works by Mexican/Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Spanish, Central and South American and other Latina/o residents of what has become the United States, from the Colonial period to 1980.
  • We especially encourage projects highlighting US Latina voices.
  • Bibliographic compilations, indexing projects pertaining to any of the above. Compilation of reference works, e.g. bibliographic dictionaries, thematic datasets, linguistic corpus, etc.
  • Study of recovered primary source(s) for potential digital publication, including: text analysis, thematic dataset creation, visualization, etc.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest, project description (2-3 pages), proposed budget (include 2-day visit to Houston), CV and 2 letters of recommendation via email to recovery@uh.edu by December 20, 2019.

Read more about the Grants-in-Aid program on our website by clicking here.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in US Latino Digital Humanities

The application period is now open for a two-year Mellon-funded postdoctoral fellowship in US Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH), a division of Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program (Recovery) at the University of Houston. The program is looking for a recent (less than 5 years) Ph.D. graduate with background expertise in US Latino Studies. The postdoctoral fellow will help re-vision new strategies for data hosted at Recovery in support of teaching, research and community engagement and help to develop initiatives that will enhance collections and scholarship in the field. USLDH will provide the selected candidate with the necessary training in digital tools, metadata and digitization standards, project and content management systems and platforms. The fellow will be expected to create and publish a significant DH project using Recovery’s archives, assist with instruction, support projects and scholars, serve as a mentor for Research Fellows, lead workshops and collaborate in the creation and implementation of toolkits and other pedagogical tools. The postdoctoral fellow will give one university-wide presentation per year at the University of Houston and will have opportunities to teach courses or be invited as a lecturer at partner departments.

Apply online through the UH Job Portal. View full job posting and apply online at by clicking here.

Deadline: December 20, 2019.


U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program to Launch at UH with Mellon Foundation Grant

A $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Houston to establish a first-of-its-kind U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Read the complete news release here: U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program to Launch at UH with Mellon Foundation Grant

Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery) has digitized hundreds of thousands of documents once at risk of being lost forever — from books and newspapers to manuscripts and personal papers — and made them available for international distribution.

Museum Survey

Map of the US Southwest that displays pinned locations of institutions that contain Hispanic archival materials

Over the course of the twentieth century, commensurate with the growth of the Latino population, many local libraries, historical societies, small museums and collections within colleges and universities in the Southwest have become repositories of Hispanic/Latino materials. However, these valuable collections are not well documented and, in some cases, there is risk of damage to the collections. This is largely due to the lack of adequate resources and training at these institutions, both large and small, such that these materials are often held in below standard conditions and are unknown to the scholarly community potentially interested in them.

In 2017-2018, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage conducted a survey of small historical societies, libraries and museums in the Southwest that might hold Hispanic archival materials and to assess how they were preserved and made accessible. The survey results were published on Recovery’s website to serve as a guide to Hispanic materials at small institutions.

The final phase of the project involved inviting personnel from these small institutions to a meeting to offer us feedback and other projects that could plan out a larger, second project and to offer basic training to the personnel at these collections, to help stabilize the collections and make them accessible.

In summary 358 surveys were distributed. Of these, 59 were completed and returned. This effort was followed up with phone and email contacts to 36 institutions. Of the final list of 36 organizations reporting fully, we invited 18 to come to Houston for a full-day conference; of these 8 attended and participated in the conference. The final “Guide” published on Recovery’s website includes the full report of holdings of these institutions, the types of institutions and their needs; in these, there was a considerable amount of Hispanic archival materials identified, so as to justify the need for this project.

On Friday April 27, 2018, we brought in the historical society directors to the University of Houston to give us feedback, receive some training and plan the next steps.

Nicolás Kanellos, Ph. D.
Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies
Director, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage

To view the digital project, please visit: Survey of Small Historical Societies, Libraries and Museums for Hispanic Materials and Their Management

Nuestra Historia: Alonso S. Perales Exhibit

On May 14, 2019, in a collaboration between the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 60, the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage/Arte Público Press, and SERJobs, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of the Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive. Among those in attendance was Perales’ daughter, Marta Perales Carrizales. This digital archive marks the first digitized collection on the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Archives site.

Alonso S. Perales was one of the most prominent US Civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. He was born in Alice, Texas in 1898. Perales served in the US Army during World War I. After his military service, he attended college and law school at the National University (which later became George Washington University). Upon receiving his law degree, Perales became only the third Mexican American to practice law in Texas (Olivas xi). Perales dedicated his life to Mexican American civil rights and empowering the working-class community through knowledge and education. In 1929, Perales co-founded of the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC)–the first nationwide Mexican American civil rights organization, not to mention the largest and oldest US Latino political association. He served as the second LULAC national president from 1930 to 1931 (xiv). In addition to his work in the United States, Perales served as Nicaraguan Consul General for twenty-five years and as counsel to the Nicaraguan delegation to the United Nations in 1945. In addition, he helped draft the original Charter of the United Nations. Perales authored Are We Good Neighbors and two volumes of En defensa de mi raza. His writing stressed the need for anti-discrimination legislation and civil activism for the Latino community.

Alonso S. Perales Collection

The Alonso S. Perales Collection is Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage’s flagship online digital archive. In 2009, Marta Perales Carrizales and Raymond Perales donated their father’s extensive personal papers to the University of Houston’s Recovery Program. This collection, which measures over 40 linear feet, contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, civil rights writings, and foundational documents related to LULAC. The online digital collection includes a large sampling of these documents. To facilitate accessibility, the digital documents include full-text transcriptions and bilingual keywords for searches. In the future, more US Latino digital archives will be added to the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections (available at: usldhrecovery.uh.edu). The original Alonso S. Perales Papers are housed at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

Are We Good Neighbors? Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas

Screenshot of Are We Good Neighbors? : Mapping Discrimination Against Mexican Americans in 1940s Texas. https://arcg.is/1C1bbv

Perales’ activism also included the empowerment of his community. He urged people to publicly share experiences of discrimination, including the names and addresses of businesses where they were refused service. Many of the testimonies sworn to him in his capacity as Notary Public appeared in his book, Are We Good Neighbors?

The digital mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, uses the information in these testimonials to locate these incidents on a map in an attempt to reveal the embodiment of racism. One after another, these accounts tell stories of everyday life: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, looking for employment, or moving to a new house. Yet, for people of Mexican descent, these activities were marked by disgust, hatred, shame, and even violence. This project highlights the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our own neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics.

Twitter: @AlonsoSPerales

The Alonso S. Perales Collection Twitter Bot (@AlonsoSPerales) also strives to bring attention to his activism. This Twitter account automatically posts quotations (in English and Spanish) from Perales’ writing and allows his voice to continue to advocate for education, equality, and justice.

The Perales Collection is extremely important for our understanding of the historical trajectory of US Latinx civil rights. The documents in this collection reveal the ways our community refused to remain silent, even in the face of persecution. Civil rights leaders such as Perales fought for justice long before the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The history embedded in this collection is not readily available in K-12 history books. We hope that digital projects such as these can empower our community through education and help Latina/o/x schoolchildren see themselves reflected in US history in a positive light.

Organizers

LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide.

Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (“Recovery”) is an international program at the University of Houston dedicated to locating, preserving, and disseminating Hispanic cultural documents of the United States written since colonial times until 1980. Recovery in the premier center for research on Latino documentary history in the United States.

Arte Público Press is the oldest and largest Hispanic publisher in the United States. Established in 1979, it is the principal provider of cultural materials on Latino life in the United States for general and educational audiences.

SERJobs is a nonprofit community organization that educates and equips people in the Texas Gulf Coast Region who come from low-income backgrounds or who have significant barriers to employment.

Further Reading

Olivas, Michael A. (ed.) In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals. Arte Público Press, 2012.

Orozco, Cynthia E. No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. University of Texas Press, 2009.

Saldaña, Hector. “Unsung Hero of Civil Rights: ‘Father of LULAC’ A Fading Memory.” Practicing Texas Politics, 2013.

Sloss Vento, Adela. Alonso S. Perales: His Struggle for the Rights of the Mexican American. Artes Gráficas, 1977.