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National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2014

Hispanic Collections, In the News
petition from the Barefoot Monks to Philip V, King of Spain (from the Mexico Documents Collection)

petition from the Barefoot Monks to Philip V, King of Spain (1739, from the Mexico Documents Collection)

Today marks the kickoff of National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2014.

From September 15 through October 15, we celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestry derives from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  The month, in actuality a 30-day period spanning two months, owes its unorthodox time frame to its origins (originally a week-long observation started under President Lyndon B. Johnson, it was expanded to a month under President Ronald Reagan) and to historical convenience (the first days coincide with the independence celebrations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile and the final days encompass Columbus Day or Día de la Raza).  During this time, the Library of Congress in partnership with a number of archives, repositories, and various organizations sponsor exhibits and collections dedicated to telling the story of Hispanic American history.

Here at the University of Houston Special Collections, we celebrate the opportunity to be part of that collective voice as we make available for study our Hispanic Collections.  Rich with research potential and always in-demand from scholars, highlights from the collections include the Alonso S. Perales Papers (diplomat, civil-rights lawyer, and one of the founders of LULAC), the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers (educator and founder of La Cruz Blanca), and the Mexico Documents Collection (holding manuscript materials dating as far back as 1570).  A collection that should increase in its value to researchers over the years are the sizable Arte Público Press Records (the oldest and largest Latino publishing house in the U.S., based here at the University of Houston) and materials related to their award-winning work with the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project.

Leonor and ladies of Cruz Blanca 1st brigade

Leonor and ladies of Cruz Blanca 1st brigade (Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers and also available in our Digital Library)

Over the next month we will take a closer look at the impact of these collections on scholarship related to Hispanic American history.  We encourage you, in your own observations over the next month and all year long, to visit UH Special Collections and experience the archives holding that rich history.

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