It started in a classroom—when students in Roberto Cintli Rodríguez's “History of Red-Brown Journalism and Communication” class at the University of Arizona put together a collection of pieces published by Mexican and Mexican-American journalists, they realized there was no large-scale, digitized collection of such work. Inspired by the rich history of Mexican-American journalism, the university’s libraries, journalism school and Mexican American Studies department decided to make it happen. The result is the Historic Mexican and Mexican American Press Collection, and it features collections of 20 newspapers and magazines in both Spanish and English.
The new archive brings the headlines of the past into the present, spanning 149 years of significant Mexican and Mexican-American publications. The periodicals, which were published between the mid-19th century and the 2000s in Sonora, Mexico, Tucson, El Paso, Los Angeles and San Francisco serve as written testaments to the interests, cultural uniqueness and struggles of the Mexican and Mexican-American community.
The project, a joint effort between the university’s libraries, journalism school and Mexican American Studies department, gives anyone can access these rarely-seen papers online. Covering everything from the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s to the Chicano movement in the 1970s, the collection speaks to the perspectives, solidarity and concerns of a group that is often overlooked despite the growing Latino population in the United States.
The announcement of the new collection seems strategically timed, given the state of today’s Spanish-language news media—according to Pew Research, Spanish daily newspaper circulation and the circulations of about half of Spanish weeklies declined in 2014.
But there are other reasons to make the papers available now. “We hope that by making these newspapers available online, this collection will provide an alternative view to a wider audience that at times challenges other articles published in English-language newspapers, some of these topics are relevant today,” said University of Arizona librarian Chris Kollen in a release.
Mexican-American studies programs are hot-button issues Arizona, where a law banning ethnic studies courses sparked a nationwide push to teach more students about their heritage. Given that pressure, a digital resource that preserves that heritage in headlines—and pays tribute to the Mexican journalists of the past—is even more important.