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: 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.

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.


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.

Digital Hispanisms: Using Third World Feminism in DH

I gave the following talk on Jan. 5, 2019 at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention held in Chicago, IL.

This talk was part of a TC Digital Humanities sponsored roundtable on Digital Hispanisms with Alex Saum-Pascual (UC, Berkeley), Sylvia Fernández (U. of Houston), Nora Benedict (Princeton U), Vanessa Ceia (McGill U), Lorena Gauthereau (U. of Houston), Hilda Chacón (Nazareth College). This roundtable was designed to spark a conversation on the intersections between Digital Humanities (DH) and Hispanic Studies (HS). For all the speakers’ abstracts, please visit:

As we reflect on Digital Hispanisms in this roundtable, I want to briefly describe the types of theoretical frameworks and methodologies that emerge when engaging the digital humanities (DH) through US Latinx Studies. Specifically, I am interested in the groundwork laid by Chicana and Third World feminists. Rather than continuing to center hegemonic Anglophone theorists, I argue that by drawing from the lived experiences of Women of Color, we can shift the types of conversations taking place in the field of digital humanities. As a Woman of Color, I recognize that we cannot rely on hegemonic DH theory to acknowledge, much less accurately represent, our lived experiences and the digital stories we tell. As an example of DH discourse elaborated from the perspective of Third World feminism, I will discuss my mapping project, “Are We Good Neighbors?” and how my proposed theoretical framework highlights what is at stake in doing this type of DH: it’s a matter of humanizing a past that has all too often been silenced. Third World feminism accounts for the way that theory and lived experience meld, and stresses that the theoretical needs to be grounded in the flesh because our experiences cannot be separated from who we are.

Garcia, Adriana.  Liminal Incubation, 2012.

“Are We Good Neighbors?” is a story map that includes transcriptions of affidavits and maps incidents of discrimination against Mexican Americans in Texas during the 1940s. These affidavits are from the Alonso S. Perales Collection at the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Perales was one of the first Mexican Americans to practice law in the US and one of the co-founders of the civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (or LULAC) (Olivas xi). In addition to practicing law, he was also a diplomat, veteran, civil rights activist, and author of two books: En defensa de mi raza (In Defense of My People) and Are We Good Neighbors?, from which I drew the digital project’s name. As part of his activism, Perales encouraged the Mexican American community to report discrimination and to call out, by name, the public establishments in which these incidents occurred. As a result, his archival collection includes hundreds of affidavits and letters.

One after another, these accounts tell stories of the quotidian: going out for dinner with family, spending time with friends, moving to a new house, riding the bus to school, or even going to the barber shop for a haircut. Yet, for Mexican Americans in the 1940s, these quotidian activities are marked by disgust, hatred, shame, fear, and even violence. And these negative affects are felt and worn on the body. Mapping these instances gives a materiality to the offenses, geolocating them in neighborhoods and commercial centers still frequented today. When the bodies of those who experienced this discrimination are long gone, it is our bodies that can physically stand in these places.

Framed through the lens of Third World feminists, such as Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Cherríe Moraga, “Are We Good Neighbors?” reveals the personal history of racism, one that takes place in our neighborhoods to real people, rather than distanced through abstract statistics. What becomes apparent when mapping these accounts is the personal and normalized embodiment of racism in the US. The juxtaposition of these affidavits and maps call people to be witnesses through time and affectively embed the experience in its physical location. These locations are often places that we can imagine ourselves in. Remembering injustices through this type of witnessing makes people of color visible, and is, as Ahmed writes, “about claiming an injustice did happen; this claim is a radical one in the face of the forgetting of such injustices” (2004; 200).

Take for example the affidavit sworn by Amada B. Quesnot, the mother of five-year old Eugene Quesnot. On November 13, 1941, she attempted to take little Eugene to M&S Clinic for treatment yet was turned away because of her ethnicity. Amada writes,

The lady in charge in the Social Workers Room asked me if I was Latin American and when I replied in the affirmative she stated that no Latin American children were accepted for treatment at that Clinic.

(Quesnot qtd. in Perales 204)
Quesnot, Amada , “Affidavit sworn by Amada Quesnot to Alonso S. Perales,” Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections.

Turned away, Amada insists upon her own legitimacy in her letter, tracing it through her US citizenship and both her husband’s and older son’s military service. She was born here, she protests. But her brown skin is read as un-American; and the brown skin of her five-year old child is read as undeserving of medical attention. Her decision to write the letter affirms her need to do something, to plead for political action. She documents a struggle, a status quo that needs to change. Her lived reality is tied to this political desire. Cherrie Moraga’s theory in the flesh makes this connection; a theory in the flesh, she writes, is a theory in which “the physical realities of our lives–our skin color, the land of concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings–all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity” (19). Echoing Moraga’s (1981) argument that theory is fused to the body, Sara Ahmed states that:

The personal is theoretical. Theory itself is often assumed to be abstract: something is more theoretical the more abstract it is, the more it is abstracted from everyday life. To abstract is to drag away, detach, pull away, or divert. We might then have to drag theory back, to bring theory back to life.

(2017; 10)

Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1987) mestiza consciousness then weaves these two together. It is the thread that ties the theory to the flesh. Anzaldúa imagines the mestiza putting

history through a sieve…This step is a conscious rupture with all oppressive traditions of all cultures and religions. She communicates that rupture, documents the struggle. She reinterprets history and, using new symbols, she shapes new myths.

(Anzaldúa 104)

Mestiza consciousness as an approach to DH calls us to read for the silences in historical narratives, to discard the frameworks that marginalize the experiences of people of color, and to invent new theories and methodologies that center our lived experiences.

Turning to Third World feminism in DH, then, reminds us to bring theory back to life, to bring it back to the lived experience. “Doing DH” isn’t just about the final product, but also about the process of dragging theory back and embodying it. Moreover, shifting the loci of enunciation from the center to the margin, reimagines DH not just as a site of knowledge-production, but also as a site of decolonial resistance and social justice. Our digital work does not need to be reduced to mere zeros and ones or replicate the canonical archive of dead white men’s work, but instead can be a space to reclaim lost histories, reveal injustices, and demand that our voices be heard. Allow me to end with one last Ahmed quotation in order to highlight the importance of thinking through DH via Third World feminism; I ask that you reflect on digital scholarship and digitized archives as I read this: “Your texts are littered with love. Words can pulse with life; words as flesh, leaking; words as heart, beating.” (2017; 230). Thank you.

Works cited

Ahmed, Sara. Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge, 2014.

_____. Living a Feminist Life. Duke University Press, 2017.

Anzaldúa, Gloria E. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

Moraga, Cherríe and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. This Bridge Called My Back.Writings by Radical Women of Color. 4th ed., SUNY Press, 2015.

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

Quesnot, Amada , “Affidavit sworn by Amada Quesnot to Alonso S. Perales,” Alonso S. Perales Collection. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections.


Lorena Gauthereau is a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage at the University of Houston. Find her online at

Delis Negrón abogando por el español en los Estados Unidos

Tomando en cuenta los últimos acontecimientos y el estado tumultuoso en el que se encuentra el país estadounidense, una cuestión muy importante es el uso de la lengua. La historia de reglamentos lingüísticos en los Estados Unidos ha sido una de imponer el uso del inglés y desvaluar los idiomas minoritarios (Balestra 35). Por esta razón la colección de Delis Negrón es tan significativa al resaltar cómo la comunidad hispana en los Estados Unidos ha luchado contra la estigmatización del idioma. Según Nicolás Kanellos (2000), periódicos han protegido la lengua, cultura, y derechos de una minoría étnica dentro de un sistema más grande que además de ignorar a la comunidad es hostil contra ella (5).

Periódicos como La Prensa[1] fueron pioneros en la lucha para estas comunidades; Kanellos argumenta que “many of its prominent writers and editorialists became leaders of Mexican /Mexican-American communities” (Kanellos 42), incluyendo a Delis Negrón, nacido en Puerto Rico, quien es un ejemplo de la solidaridad entre la comunidad hispana en el país.  A pesar de ser puertorriqueño sus esfuerzos y dedicación en cuanto a los derechos de la comunidad México-americana son loables. Durante su transcurso como director, editor, escritor y traductor en varias publicaciones periodísticas Negrón contribuyó a la manutención del valioso idioma que es el español.  Esta dedicación enfatiza el valor de su trabajo y el compromiso social que tenía con la comunidad hispana en los Estados Unidos. Los periódicos a los que contribuyó utilizaban la lengua española de varios modos. Algunos, como La Prensa, se publicaban completamente en español. Otros, como Laredo Times, eran publicaciones bilingües que incorporaban secciones en español o traducciones completas. El hecho de que periódicos como este siguen en producción, , como por ejemplo la Opinion[2] de Los Ángeles California, sugiere la importancia de la prensa hispana para Latinos viviendo en los Estados Unidos.

Como académica de estudios hispánicos, el haber colaborado en este proyecto fue una oportunidad para contribuir a esta resistencia contra la imposición del inglés, que se encuentra incluso en espacios donde se espera la inclusión del español y otras lenguas. Recientemente en un congreso de estudios latinos se cuestionó el que hubiera presentado en español, reflejando el pensamiento que ha predominado por décadas. Esta misma desvaluación se ve en los medios de comunicación que relatan esta retórica a diario.

Es por esta razón que el resaltar la contribución de Delis Negrón a una audiencia más amplia es muy importante. Este archivo digital tiene la capacidad de llegar a diversas comunidades, incluyendo monolingües y bilingües, para enfatizar y hacer ostensible la presencia intelectual de los Latinos en los Estados Unidos. De manera, recordando a nuestra sociedad la lucha continua por nuestros derechos, y los resultados de esta,  los que no debemos olvidar ni tomar en vano.

Balestra, Alejandra et al. Recovering the U. S Hispanic Linguistic Heritage: Sociohistorical Approaches to Spanish in the United States. Arte Público Press, 2008.

Delis Negrón Digital Archive. Arte Público Press & Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, 2017.

Kanellos, Nicolás y Helvetia Martell. Hispanic Periodicals in the United States, Origins to 1960: A Brief History and Comprehensive Bibliography. Arte Público Press, 2000. 

[1] Periódico fundado por Ignacio E. Lozano en 1913 que permaneció activo hasta 1963.  Kanellos describe el impacto que el periódico tuvo en la comunidad hispana “The Mexican community truly benefitted in that the entrepreneurs and businessmen did provide needed goods, information and services that were often denied by the larger society through official and open segregation. And, of course, writers, artists and intellectuals provided both high and popular culture and entertainment in a language not offered by Anglo-American society” (42-23).

[2] Otro periódico fundado por por Ignacio E. Lozano en 1926 que actualmente sigue en producción en Los Angeles, CA.

Isis Campos is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Houston and a Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. She is one of the Project Collaborators on the Delis Negrón Digital ArchiveHer research interests include US Central American literature and the digital humanities.

UH Grad Students Collaborate on National Digital Project, “Torn Apart”


HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 27, 2018)– UH Hispanic Studies graduate students, Sylvia Fernández and Maira Álvarez, collaborated with leading digital humanities scholars on the creation of Torn Apart/Separados, a digital visualization project that emerges from the immigration crisis that started at the United States-Mexico border. Volume 1 of the project, released on June 25th, 2018, aggregates and cross-references publicly available data to visualize the geography of “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2018 and immigration incarceration in the USA in general. This initial volume highlights the landscapes, families, and communities affected by the massive web of immigrant detention in the United States.

An article for WIRED magazine, “‘ICE Is Everywhere’: Using Library Science to Map the Separation Crisis,” recognized the Torn Apart model as “more than information […] a living resource, one the team hopes migrants will use to find their families and that researchers will build upon.”

The recently released Volume 2 explores the financial landscape of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the impact of its increased investment in detention, enforcement, and deportation of immigrant families. Torn Apart’s data analysis reveals that ICE-related government contract values have increased 987% since 2014 and have almost doubled in the past year. The data shows that 16 “fat cat” congressional districts in Virginia, New Mexico, Alaska, California, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland, and New York received 88.53% of ICE contracts between 2014 and 2018 ($8.64 Billion of the total $9.76 Billion in awards).

Torn Apart began with an intense 6-day collaboration, which brought together a collective of academics, scholars, and researchers with extensive experience in teaching and writing about histories of immigration around the world. Collaborators include the Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities and Borderlands Archives Cartography, with additional contributions from 50 participants. (Full details available on the project’s Credits page.) “The interdisciplinary and collaborative work within this digital, activist, and mobilized humanities,” Fernández reflected, “offers the opportunity to create new ways of interpreting, visualizing, and documenting the histories of communities with a profound message towards social justice and equity in this world.”

Sylvia Fernández: is a Ph.D. Candidate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston and a Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. Her research interest is on U.S. Latina/o Literature with a focus on U.S.-Mexico Border, Women’s, Gender and Sexualities Studies, Archives and Digital Humanities. She is co-creator of Borderlands Archives Cartography.

Maira Álvarez: is a Ph.D. Candidate and currently a Research Assistant for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. Her research interests lie in the study of U.S. Latino, U.S.-Mexico Border, and Latin American Literature as well as Women’s Studies, Latinx Art and Digital Humanities. She is co-creator of Borderlands Archives Cartography.




El legado de los (in)migrantes: ¿A dónde vamos?, ¿de dónde somos?, y ¿dónde quedamos?

Estados Unidos es un país compuesto por (in)migrantes, por ende, la identidad y el récord histórico de cada uno se entrelaza con otros países. Si trazamos las raíces de (in)migración de cada uno, los lazos con otros países están siempre presentes[1]. Por otra parte, la situación como (in)migrantes recae en una situación en la que, si bien estas personas llegan, se establecen y crean una vida en este país. No obstante, en muchos de los casos su trayectoria no se ve reflejada como parte de la historia de la nación ya que ni siquiera se contempla o se le da prioridad dentro de los archivos nacionales. En este caso, hablo especialmente sobre los archivos que representen las diversas historias de las personas de color, como lo son los latinos. En estos documentos se puede ver la presencia del español en los Estados Unidos, un sinfín de contribuciones al país desde diferentes ámbitos y una trayectoria que rompe con los estereotipos impuestos a estos grupos de personas. A demás, estos documentos desestabilizan las identidades fijas que se han construido a través de los años. Lo que en muchos casos la nacionalidad o lugar de residencia impone definir que la persona sea de un solo lugar, ya sea al de origen o al de residencia. Sin embargo, el/la (in)migrante puede ser “De aquí y de allá” lo que incluye que su legado se encuentre en distintos países. Asimismo, a través de los años las distintas historias de los (in)migrantes indican que no solamente los mexicanos y/o mexicoamericanos han vivido en Tejas o en otros estados de la frontera, entre otras intersecciones, complejidades, ambigüedades, similitudes y contradicciones.

immigration map


Frances Aparicio (1993) describe que los puertorriqueños han estado (in)migrando a los Estados Unidos desde la segunda mitad del siglo XIX y a través de los años han establecido una comunidad culturalmente fuerte y visible. Además, los puertorriqueños han sido una parte integral de los principales desarrollos culturales e históricos estadounidenses, específicamente en Nueva York y sus alrededores (20)[2]. Sin embargo, archivos que representan estos acontecimientos son escasos, lo que resulta por determinar su historia a través de dos o tres archivos recuperados y reconocidos, como es el caso de los puertorriqueños en Nueva York como el de Arturo Schomburg o Jesús Colón.

El Archivo Digital de Delis Negrón (Delis Negrón Digital Archive) [3]va más allá de dar visibilidad a un puertorriqueño que (in)migró a la ciudad de Nueva York a principios del siglo XX. El archivo de Delis Negrón representa a un ciudadano que se desempeñó profesionalmente en distintas ciudades fronterizas del sur de Texas como lo fue en Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville, Del Río, así como en San Antonio. Tuvo una etapa de su vida en la que cruzó la frontera y vivió en la Ciudad de México, donde trabajó con distinguidos intelectuales y formó parte del grupo de edición del periódico El Universal. Al regresar a la frontera estadounidense, Negrón se estableció definitivamente en el sur de Texas, donde se casó y formó una familia. Al mismo tiempo estuvo muy involucrado con la comunidad hispana de manera política, como también en eventos culturales donde declamaba poesía y era parte del elenco en obras de teatro locales a lado de su esposa, Delia Negrón.

Delis Negrón Digital Archive

El legado de Delis Negrón, desde sus publicaciones periodísticas y otros documentos, se pudo haber perdido en un bote de basura. A pesar de que parte de su trayectoria literaria, periodística y política sigue presente en los Estados Unidos incluyendo Puerto Rico y en México, para muchos es completamente desconocida. Incluso lo fue para su familia por un tiempo ya que solo lo conocían desde el ámbito familiar como el papá, el abuelo o el tío. Fue a través de conversaciones con personas que lo conocieron en su rol como editor, poeta, actor, que su hija Delia Negrón García se dio cuenta que las palabras escritas de su padre llenaban algunos de los vacíos de la historia y documentaban la cultura de las ciudades fronterizas del sur de Texas, así como de otras partes de Estados Unidos y México.

Es de esta forma, el arduo esfuerzo del programa de Recuperación del Legado Escrito de los Hispanos en Estados Unidos, de preservar este tipo de archivos y la iniciativa de crear el Archivo Digital de Delis Negrón conlleva a resaltar “el trabajo de estos intelectuales y grandes artistas y de muchos otros cuyos escritos, que aún nos son en general desconocidos, pero que contribuyeron significativamente a la identidad, historia y cultura hispana en los Estados Unidos.” (Traducción; Kanellos 239-240)[4]. Por otra parte, este proyecto profundiza en el conocimiento y cuestionamiento de la identidad y el legado de puertorriqueños, como Delis Negrón, así como de los Latinos y las Latinas en general. Además, resalta el aporte hacia la documentación histórica y literaria de/en ciudades fronterizas presentes en las publicaciones de Negrón en los periódicos locales y sus colecciones de poesía. Finalmente, este proyecto hace un llamado para concientizar que las identidades, los archivos y legados de los (in)migrantes conlleven a una representación de inclusividad, pluralidad, interseccionalidad, y transnacionalismo presente en los Estados Unidos, las cuales cruzan muros y forman parte del aquí y del allá.



[1] Utilizo el concepto de (in)migración en referencia al uso que hace Frances Aparicio de esta palabra al hablar de la historia de los puertorriqueños en Estados Unidos. A demás este concepto resalta que en muchos casos no todos los Latinos/as son parte de la inmigración, sino de una migración a raíz de las cuestiones políticas de su país con los Estados Unidos, como es el caso de los puertorriqueños a partir de 1917.

[2] Aparicio, Frances R. “From Ethnicity to Multiculturalism: An Historical Overview of Puerto Rican Literature in the United States.” Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Literature and Art. Edited by Francisco Lomeli. General Editors Nicolás Kanellos and Claudio Esteva-Fabregat. Arte Público Press, 1993.

[3]Delis Negrón Digital Archive (link:

[4] Original quote: “the work of these intellectuals and artistic giants and of many others whose writings are still generally unknown [that] contributed significantly to the Hispanic identity, history, and culture in the United States.” Kanellos, Nicolás. “A Socio-Historic Study of Hispanic Newspapers in the United States.” Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United States: Sociology. Edited by Félix Padilla.General Editors Nicolás Kanellos and Claudio Esteva-Fabregat. Arte Público Press, 1994.


Sylvia Fernández is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Houston and a Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. She is the co-founder of Borderlands Archives Cartography and team member of Torn Apart / Separados. Her research is on US Latina / o literature with a focus on US/Mexico borderlands, transnational feminisms and archives, postcolonial theory and digital humanities.


Resisting the Institutional Archive through Digital Humanities

“Traditional archival methods often nourish a “feedback loop” in which one’s access to power determines one’s presence in the archive, and one’s presence in the archive shapes historical knowledge, which, in turn, informs the system of values that shapes the collecting priorities of institutions. So those farther away from the mechanisms of power . . . are rarely represented in institutional archives. And when they are in the archive, their legacies are strictly controlled by the very institutional structures . . . that have tended to marginalize them. As an institutionally-recognized scholar I can access these legacies in the archive and write about them, but the communities that they really matter to can’t.” -María Cotera

Access to the legacy of Latina/os in the United States is ever present in my mind as a scholar of US Latino literature. How can one specialize in this field without a well-rounded, informed knowledge of the Latino community in the United States? And how can one accomplish this when many of their legacies are not present in archives, or are not prioritized when they are present? While it is true, as María Cotera states, that a lack of power contributes to a lack of presence, working on the Delis Negrón Digital Archive has given me hope that we can change this.

The digital approach given to this archive allows for open access to Negrón’s legacy as a journalist, editor, writer, activist, and while much of his work is lost or scattered across other archives, on this page he is not lost amongst the literal and figurative stacks of papers. For me, this project symbolizes a resistance to the archival power that “shapes historical knowledge,” a resistance of the marginalized control of “institutional structures” by making this archive available not only to scholars, but also to the community.

Through this digital archive we not only give access to his participation in the literary, political and historical aspects of life in the United States, but we also hope that it will encourage other Latinos and marginalized members of the community to share their stories in ways that resist the power structures that invisibilize them from the archives.

* This post is part of the Delis Negrón Digital Archive project and can be found at Reflections

Annette Zapata is a PH.D. student at the University of Houston, a Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage and an Editing Assistant with Arte Público Press. Her research in US Latina/o Literature focuses on the representation of immigrants in children and YA literature.

Omeka site coming soon!

We’ve got great news for you: we’ve started populating an Omeka site with Recovery collections! This week we’ve been busy ingesting files and creating metadata. There are two collections currently in the works: the Alonso S. Perales Collection and the Delis Negrón Collection (I’ve briefly mentioned them before in the blog–look for the link below).

Black and white photo: Alonso S. Perales standing with arms crossed, in his US Army Uniform

Alonso S. Perales in his US Army uniform

This has also been a week of experimenting with different plugins, including Neatline. I’m looking forward to creating visualizations and exhibits to go along with the collections. Stay tuned for the public launching of the site!

In relation to the Alonso S. Perales collection, Theresa Mayfield and I have created a Twitter bot, which automatically posts bilingual quotes from Perales’ letters, articles, and books, as well as facts about the Mexican American civil rights activist and lawyer. Follow the Alonso S. Perales Collection on Twitter at @AlonsoSPerales.

Speaking of Twitter Bots, in case you haven’t heard, our Graduate Research Assistants created @fillingthe_gaps, a bot that posts information about recovered authors who published in newspapers from 1808 to 1960.

A special shout out to Dr. Élika Ortega (Northeastern University) for her April 27th workshop “Twitter Bots for Social Justice,” which inspired us to write these bots!

And of course, make sure to follow Recovery on Twitter at @AppRecovery. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

Further Reading

Gauthereau, Lorena. “Personal Archives and History.” Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Blog.

Lorena Gauthereau is a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage at the University of Houston. Find her online at

Mexican American Art since 1848

On April 30, 2018, Dr. Karen Mary Davalos (University of Minnesota) visited colleagues working with the U.S. Latino Digital Humanities, an initiative between Arte Público Press and Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage at the University of Houston. The purpose of the visit was to consult about developing an online aggregator for Mexican American art.

Along with co-Principle Investigator, Constance Cortez (University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley), Davalos has launched a major initiative, Mexican American Art since 1848. This five-phase project will produce a searchable, shareable, online digital platform that aggregates information about Mexican American art, broadly defined, from existing collections (Phase 1) and newly identified collections (Phase 2) from libraries, archives, and museums across the nation. Once this digital platform is functional, the project will produce a multi-volume co-authored book about Mexican American art since 1848. Presently, Davalos and Cortez collaborate with a group of scholars, curators, and librarians at other universities who comprise the National Advisory Board.

Rhizomes, the online digital tool, addresses a growing population and emerging area of cultural and intellectual inquiry. According to the US Census, the Mexican-origin community comprises 11% of the nation’s total population, making it the second largest ethnic or racial group in the country. Mexican Americans are now found in all fifty states, distributed beyond the traditional southwestern geographic hub. With this demographic shift in the social fabric of the nation, the humanities have witnessed significant growth in recent decades in the study of Mexican American art. Rhizomes will have long-term value and allows for research on a scale once thought impossible for humanities scholars. Given the geographic scattering and varying cataloging methods, the tool promises tremendous gains for the interdisciplinary scholarly community, college students, K-12 teachers and students, and the general public.

For more information, please contact Dr. Karen Mary Davalos at kdavalos [at] umn [dot] edu

Featured image: Dougie Padilla, Rio del Sur

Post written by Sara A. Ramírez. Ramírez is a Post-Doctoral Associate at the Chicano and Latino Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Following the Breadcrumbs

UN Conference-Delegations Presidents

UN Conference Delegation University of Houston Special Collections

So today was all about following the breadcrumbs.  I was looking through some of the images in the Alonso S. Perales Collection, you know…just trying to get an idea of what would be suitable for the Omeka project. When I ran across an image that sparked a little niggle in my mind.  (Yes, niggle is a word somewhere, honestly.)  The image in question depicts three delegates from the United Nations Conference.  I thought to myself, “Why do we have such a picture in our collection?”  (Breadcrumb #1) After researching the UN Conference I ran across a site highlighting the United Nations San Franciso Conference of 1945.  On its own, this conference was made famous because it signified the coming together of forty-six nations who signed the first Charter of the United Nations, all in the name of peace.  (Breadcrumb #2).  The niggle was back.  I seemed to recall scanning a document that said something about San Francisco from 1945.  What was it?  Digging through a pile of documents, I found it!  In 1945 the San Francisco Public library extended one of their libray cards to Alonso Perales while he attended the United Nations Conference.  Wait!


San Franciso Library Card – University of Houston – Recovery

Alonso Perales attended the Conference?  (Breadcrumb #3). I pulled open my book “In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals” by Michael Olivas.  I thought maybe I will get lucky and there may be a mention of something in it about this event.  When I opened the book and started to scan, immediately I saw the words “United Nations Conference held at San Franciso’s Veteran’s War Memorial Building” (Zamora, PP. 288-289, citations omitted).  What are the odds!! (Breadcrumb #4).  Zamora (n.d.) mentions that when the Nicaragua delegation went up to sign the Charter, they had assigned one special place to Alonso Perales.  Breaking with tradition, the delegation decided that Alonso Perales; someone not from Nicaragua,  was important enough to be present at such an historic signing.  Amazing!  Who would have thought that one little picture could have so much meaning.   And so we have come to the end of our breadcrumbs to an important time in Alonso Perales’s life.  With these breadcrumbs, little by little history came to life.

Now let me send you down your own path.  If you follow the link below, it will take you to a picture of that historic signing event in 1945 Nicaraguan UN delegation signing 1945/ United Nations Photo.  Also, if you want to know more about the event itself, check out this video link San Francisco Conference 1945.

Happy History Hunting!

Theresa Mayfield is a graduate student at the University of North Texas, where she is pursing her Master’s degree in Library Science with a certificate in data curation and management. She is an intern at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage and is currently working on creating the Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive. You can find her blog online at:

LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse: This Place Matters

Two-story white house with Texas Historical Marker in front. House has three large windows on the second floor.

LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse (Photo: Dee Zunker For The National Trust For Historic Preservation)

On January 30, 2018, Houston’s LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse was named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historical Preservation—a privately-funded nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historically-significant locations. Originally built in 1907, this modest two-story building became the headquarters for Houston’s chapter of the civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

LULAC History

LULAC was founded in 1929 as response to the discrimination faced by people of Mexican descent living in the United States.

Historic black and white photograph of restaurant sign:


At this time, people of Mexican descent were denied civil rights: they were often refused service and jobs; children attended segregated schools; public spaces were segregated according to “Jaime Crow” practices; and they were often targets of racially-motivated violence.

In an effort to create a stronger, unified organization, delegates from three major Texas Mexican American civil rights groups met to discuss a merger. These three groups included: the Order of the Sons of America, The Knights of America, and the League of Latin American Citizens. The members who worked to facilitate this merger included: Ben Garza, Juan Solis, Mauro Machado, Alonso S. Perales, J.T. Canales, E.N. Marin, A. DeLuna, and Fortunio Treviño (LULAC: History). On February 17, 1929, the merger was complete and the first LULAC Convention was held on May 19, 1929 (LULAC: History).

Red, white, and blue LULAC flag

LULAC flag, Council 60 Clubhouse. Houston, TX

Since the merger until present day, LULAC has been fighting to empower Latinas and Latinos in theUnited States by creating access to political processes and equal opportunity to education. LULAC holds “voter registration drives, citizenship awareness sessions, sponsor health fairs and tutorial programs, and raise scholarship money for the LULAC National Scholarship Fund. This fund, in conjunction with LNESC (LULAC National Educational Service Centers), has assisted almost 10 percent of the 1.1 million Hispanic students who have gone to college” (LULAC: History).

Council 60 Clubhouse

The Council 60 Clubhouse in Houston served as the de facto headquarters for LULAC through the majority of the Chicana/o movement in the 1960s.

Photo of the Texas Historical Commission marker in front of LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse

Texas Historical Commission marker in front of LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse

The designation of this clubhouse as a National Treasure—a place where a part of US history unfolded—speaks to the need for inclusion of the role of Latinos in US history. That is, as Al Maldonado, III, LULAC District VIII Director noted at the January 30th reception, “Latino history is US history.”

I had the honor of attending the LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse reception. Just minutes before driving to the historical site, both our intern, Theresa Mayfield, and I were sorting through documents from our Alonso S. Perales collection.

Alonso S. Perales

Alonso S. Perales was one of the founders of LULAC and the second president. Perales’ daughter, Marta Carrizales and his son, Raymond Perales, donated his collection of papers to Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (located at the University of Houston). A conference was subsequently organized by Recovery and held in his honor in 2012.

Alonso S. Perales, in suit, facing left

Photo: Alonso S. Perales, in suit, facing left. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library.

The collection is very extensive and includes his personal documents, LULAC organizational documents (such as bylaws, history, conventions, manuscripts, resolutions, speeches, bills, news, and correspondence). Perales was only the third Mexican American to receive his law degree and dedicated his life to fighting for the civil rights of his people. He published two books, Are We Good Neighbors? and En defensa de mi raza (In Defense of My People). The Perales Collection is housed at the University of Houston’s MD Anderson Library Special Collections (read the Library’s finding aid here).

Upcoming Perales DH Projects

In an effort to highlight Perales’ civil rights work, we are currently working on creating an Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive, which will include a sampling of documents from his collection. I am also personally working on a mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, which will map out the recorded instances of discrimination experienced by Mexican Americans in Texas, based on the personal accounts that Perales collected from the Texas community and published in his book of the same name. To learn more about Alonso S. Perales, read the collection of essays that came out of the 2012 Recovery conference, edited by UH law professor, Michael A. Olivas, In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals.

For more photos of the LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse reception, visit us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook).

Works cited

“LULAC History: All for One and One for All.” League of United Latin American Citizens. Accessed 30 January 2018.

“LULAC Clubhouse.” National Trust for Historic Preservation. Accessed 30 January 2018.

Olivas, Michael A. (ed.) In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals. Arte Público Press, 2013.

Lorena Gauthereau is a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage at the University of Houston. Find her online at