The Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC), part of the Houston Public Library System, was formed in 1976. Since that time there has been a concerted effort to collect and preserve archival records and oral histories from Houston’s Hispanic and Latino community. This component of HMRC’s holdings, the Hispanic Archival Collections, includes over 100 collections of papers and photographs representing the contributions of Hispanics in every industry and their experience in the Bayou City. From the papers of John J. Herrera, civil rights attorney, photographs of Club Chapultepec, a young women’s club in the 1930s, advertisements for Lydia Mendoza’s musical performances, to the Papel Chicano, a newspaper born out of Houston’s Chicano Movement. These archival records coupled with first-hand accounts captured via oral history offer a rich account of the Hispanic experience in Houston. HMRC’s Hispanic Archival Collections aim to promote an understanding of this community through the continued collection, preservation and promotion of archival records and reflect the diverse and significant history of this community in Houston.
Materials in the Hispanic Archival Collections range in date from 1703 to the present, with the bulk of the material covering the 1920s through the 1980s. Within these collections are a significant number of materials about early Houston mutualistas (mutual aid societies), big band, Tejano, and Chicano music, the Mexican American experience during World War II, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The 1920s in Houston saw the creation of societies such as the Sociedad Mutualista Mexicana Benito Juarez and the Sociedad Mutualista Obrera Mexicana. The Hispanic collections includes photographs, rule books, and membership lists from these and other mutualistas. Collections related to Hispanic musicians and bands include the Eloy Perez Family Collection. Eloy Perez and the Latinaires played at weddings, ballrooms, and farms across Texas beginning in the 1940s. In addition to music from the era, World War II is also well-represented in these collections. The Porfirio Navarro Collection includes letters and wartime sketches of artist Pete Navarro, Houston-native and cartographer during the war. Lastly, there is a significant number of collections related to LULAC, including several photographs of President John F. Kennedy’s visit with the Houston LULACs at the Rice Hotel the night of November 21, 1963. Please visit the Texas Room of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center to view original archival documents and photographs. Digitized material can be found on the Houston Area Digital Archive (HADA) and the Portal to Texas History.
The following Hispanic Archival Collections have been digitized and are available online
MSS 0160 John J. Herrera Papers
MSS 0160 John J. Herrera Photographs
MSS 0255 Alex Arroyos/ John F. Kennedy Collection
MSS 0282 Mexican American Family and Photograph Collection
MSS 0101 Gregorio T. Valerio Collection
Select items from the following Hispanic Archival Collections have been digitized and are available online