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Latino History and Culture - detail e_rl_14646_0040 Front of a Spanish language theater

Latino History and Culture
Selected Resources

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History's research collections offer a wide variety of material for the study of Latino genealogy, history, and culture in Texas. As with all ethnic groups, the study of Latinos in Texas can be approached from many perspectives—through the use of books, photographs, music, dissertations and theses, newspapers, the personal papers of individuals, and business and governmental records. The following selected bibliography will familiarize researchers with a few examples of the many resources relating to Latinos in Texas available at the Briscoe Center. A more extensive bibliography titled, "Resources for Mexican American History at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History" can be found in the Briscoe Center’s Reading Room and online. Please direct any reference inquiries to the Briscoe Center's reference desk at 512/495-4532 or cah.reference@austin.utexas.edu.

(updated 9-4-2009)


Archives and Manuscripts

Béxar Archives, 1717–1836. (168 ft. originals; 42 ft. translations; 172 reels microfilm)

The Béxar Archives comprise the Spanish and Mexican records of Texas from 1717 to 1836. In a quarter million pages, the Archives document government and military affairs, civilian settlements, and mission life, exploration and communication, legal affairs, farming, commerce, Indian relations, Anglo settlements, revolutions, and many other topics of the era. Fully indexed, microfilmed, and partially translated, the Béxar Archives offer the richest resource available anywhere on early Latino history in Texas.

A Guide to the Bexar Archives Name Index
Bexar Archives Original Manuscripts and Printed Material, 1717–1836
Bexar Archives Translations
Census Materials in the Bexar Archives

Archivo General de Indias, 1799–1806. (13 ft., 6 in.)

These are Photostat copies or typescripts of original documents in the principal archive of Spain's New World possessions. Consisting of official reports, decrees, orders, correspondence, and inspections associated with civil, military, economic, and religious life in Texas and northern Mexico, the archives are a rich resource for the study of early settlements and relations with the Indians. Among the documents are censuses and lists of citizens of area communities.

Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico) 1538–1849. (25 ft.)

This collection, transcribed from original documents in the Mexican national archive, contains a wide variety of material dating from the early colonial period through the period of Texas independence and annexation. Major topics include Spanish and Mexican settlement of Texas, missions, military operations, and relations between Mexico and the United States.

Spanish Materials from Various Sources, 1600–1921.

This assembly of many different collections dating from the 17th through 19th centuries consists largely of Photostat or typescript copies. The principal subsections include the following:

San Antonio Archives, 1805–1890
Archivo de San Francisco el Grande, 1673–1800 [Franciscan mission history]
Documents for the Early History of Coahuila and Texas and the Approaches Thereto, 1600–1843 [Assembled by historian Carlos Castaneda]
Matamoros Archives, 1811–1859
Laredo Archives, 1749–1836
Nacogdoches Archives, 1731–1836
Saltillo Archives, 1689–1876

Municipal archives.

These include photostat copies of birth, baptismal, marriage, and death certificates for the lower Rio Grande communities of Camargo (1764–1909. 3 ft. 4 in.), Mier (1767–1864, 5 in.), and Reynosa (1820–1892. 3 ft. 3.5 in.).

Austin Papers, 1676, 1765–1889. (9 ft., 6 in.)

These include the personal and official records of Stephen F. Austin, the first and principal empresario of Anglo-American colonization in Mexican Texas. The papers also include Austin's original plat maps of Mexican Texas during the 1820s and 1830s.


Spanish Language Newspapers

The Center's Texas Newspaper Collection includes more than a hundred Spanish-language papers from thirty-two different communities. Foremost among these is La Prensa of San Antonio, an important source for Latino community history within the larger cultural context. Similar dailies exist for communities of the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas, Houston, Dallas, San Angelo, and El Paso.


Biographical and Subject Files

Culled from newspapers, magazines, and other contemporary sources, these voluminous files provide easy access to information on individuals in all walks of life, genealogical material, authors, and special subject areas, such as "Mexican Americans," or "Music–Hispanic."

Vertical File Index


Photograph Collections

The Center collections of prints and photographs total more than two million images. Among these is the Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, a major source for lower Rio Grande communities, individuals, landscapes, and events—especially the Mexican Revolution and the Pershing Expedition. Another important source is the collection of photographer Russell Lee, who undertook a special project in the late 1940s to document Latino life in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. The Visual Materials Index can indicate collections related to subjects such as Mexican Americans and Mexicans in Texas.


Sound Archives

The Center's collections of sound recordings, particularly music, provide still another dimension to the Latino experience in Texas. Since most of these recordings are fairly recent—since the 1950s—they provide a much more contemporary reflection of cultural life. They document the performance practices, singing and instrumental styles, texts, and other elements embodied in a people's music. In so doing, they reflect the values, self-image, prejudices, and aspirations of those who create and who cultivate the music. Studied over time, music thus becomes another key to understanding the historical experience of Latinos in Texas.

Principal collections that document Latino music include:

Texas Music Collection.

This growing collection of recordings by Texas companies and by Texas artists and composers includes hundreds of Latino items issued from the 1950s to the present. It is especially strong in materials produced in the Tejano recording centers of Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

University of Texas Folklore Center Archives, ca. 1928–1981. (101 ft.)

These unique, vintage field recordings created by students and professors of the Folklore Center over many years include important compilations of Latino music by:

Américo Paredes (a collection of Texas-Mexican border ballads recorded in 1954)
John A. Lomax (folk ballads and religious music from San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, ca. 1935)
William A. Owens (Texas-Mexican ballads recorded in the Valley, 1939)
Norman L. "Brownie" McNeil (Mexican vaquero, or cowboy, ballads)

Chris Strachwitz Collection.

This collection contains some 330 78-rpm phonodisks issued by early South Texas Latino-owned record companies from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. They were placed at the Center by Chris Strachwitz, whose Arhoolie and Folklyric recording series continue to document the history and current state of Latino music in Texas.

"Los Pastores" Mexican Nativity Drama Recordings.

The earliest sounds in the Center's collections, these 1893 cylinder recordings document the shepherds' songs in a San Antonio performance of this historic Latino Christmas pageant.

All inquiries regarding the use of these sound recordings collections should be directed to John Wheat, Sound Archivist, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, Sid Richardson Hall 2.101, 1 University Station D1100, Austin, Texas, 78712. 512/495-4559/ FAX 512/495-4542 Email: jr.wheat@mail.utexas.edu


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