Neto's Tucson: University of Arizona online archive reveals a wealth of Mexican-American newspapers

2013-04-21T00:00:00Z 2013-04-21T21:45:40Z Neto's Tucson: University of Arizona online archive reveals a wealth of Mexican-American newspapersErnesto Portillo Jr. Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The headline was succinct and direct: "Much persecution of Mexicans in California."

The headline was printed in Spanish on July 14, 1936, in El Tucsonense, a local biweekly newspaper. The paper - founded in 1915 by Francisco S. Moreno and later headed by his wife, Rosa E. Moreno, and their sons - was the principal source of news and information for Tucson's Mexican-American community.

Like other Spanish-language newspapers in the Southwest, El Tucsonense provided information for the Mexican-American community that was ignored by English-language newspapers.

A window to this past is now open.

El Tucsonense and other newspapers can be read in a new digital collection at the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. Dubbed the Mexican and Mexican American Press Collection, the publications span 150 years of borderlands' history captured by periodicals from Tucson, San Francisco, Los Angeles, El Paso and Sonora, Mexico.

"It adds another voice to the historical record of our country," said Veronica Reyes-Escudero, borderlands curator in the Special Collections Library.

The collection may be the only one of its kind in the United States, said Reyes-Escudero and Chris Kollen, another curator on the project. Mary Feeney was the third librarian on the project.

The oldest newspaper in the digital collection is La Estrella Occidente, the Sonoran state government newspaper published from 1855 to 1876.

The first Tucson publication is El Fronterizo, published weekly from 1878 to 1914. Its founder was Carlos Velasco, who in 1894 also founded the Alianza Hispano-Americana in Tucson, which grew into one of the nation's largest Latino fraternal and political organizations in the 1900s.

Another early 1900s publication was the Tucson-based El Mosquito, which was published twice a week from 1919 to 1925.

A separate El Fronterizo newspaper, published from 1926 to 1929 by E. V. Anaya, also is in the collection.

Spanish-language newspapers in the United States date back to 1808, when El Misisipí was published in New Orleans. Subsequently, newspapers in Spanish were created in other cities.

Many of the publications brought news from Mexico, Cuba and other Latin American countries to Spanish-speaking immigrants in the U.S. But the newspapers flourished at the turn of the 20th century, when political unrest began to grow in Mexico and the 1910 Mexican Revolution sent tens of thousands of families north.

The newspapers wrote about the growing Mexican-American communities, their issues, accomplishments and the racist backlash.

"It is literally our voice," said Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, an assistant professor of Mexican-American Studies at the UA.

The digital collection grew from a class on early Mexican and Native American journalism taught by Rodriguez, a former Los Angeles journalist.

Also in the collection are periodicals from the tumultuous 1960s and '70s that chronicled the growth of Chicano political and social activism. Publications include Basta Ya! from San Francisco, La Prensa in Berkeley and Coraje in Tucson, which was published by local Chicano activists including Salomón R. Baldenegro and Guadalupe Castillo. Coraje focused on police abuse, low-quality public schools and heralded César Chávez and Dolores Huerta of the United Farmworkers.

Two publications Rodriguez helped produce in the 1980s - Corazon de Aztlan and Americas 2001 - are part of the collection.

The collection fills a large gap in the historical record of Tucson and the borderlands, Reyes-Escudero.

The online collection will be a valuable tool for historians, researchers and anyone interested in the history of the Southwest. The site lets users search by name and words for stories.

Voices that were lost and silent can now be found - and heard.

If you go

• What: Reception for Mexican and Mexican American Press Collection

• When: Wednesday, April 24, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

• Where: UA Special Collections Library Reading Room

• Etc.: Open to the public

Find the collection of Southwestern Spanish-language newspapers at www.library.arizona.edu/contentdm/mmap

Ernesto "Neto" Portillo Jr. is editor of La Estrella de Tucsón. He can be reached at (520) 573-4187 or at netopjr@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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