College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for Latino Research > Oral Histories Projects

Oral Histories Projects

Latino Chicago Oral History Project

For many years CLR has conducted oral histories in the Chicago urban community.  Completed projects include the voices of activists of the Young Lords Organization, and interviews conducted by Mirta Ramirez. These collections are archived in the University Libraries (transcriptions and documents) as well as the CLR library (digital and video recordings).  Additional collections are underway, and housed at the Center for Latino Research.

This collection was put together to showcase interviews with prominent Latino writers, artists, and creators or media. Latino artists and writers transform life experiences into art, visual or literary, and convey a message that is both specific and transcendent, reaching a wide audience in the process. The interviews in this collection cover popular Latino topics but are flavored with the creative spices that make these artists and writers standouts in their respective fields.

Notable Interviews: Claribel Alegria, Junot Diaz, Loida Maritza Perez, and Norberto Codina.

Key Terms: Latino literature, Latino in film production, Latino poetry, Latino experience in higher education

The Mexico-Chicago Collection brings together oral histories of those who have chosen to make Chicago their home after leaving their native country of Mexico. Items of this collection focus on themes of immigration, community organizing, politics, and education. The collection looks to showcase the lives of prominent Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latino figures who have a connection to the Mexican Community in Chicago. This collection was divided in to three themes: Mexico-Chicago Immigrants' Rights, Mexico-Chicago Oral History, and Latino in Mexico-Chicago Oral History.

  • Mexico-Chicago Immigrants' Rights (2006-2007)
    The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437 "Sensenbrenner Bill") sparked a never-before-seen organizing effort around the country. The movement was taken up by many groups. In Chicago, El Comite 10 de Marzo became a prominent group in the 2006 spring mobilizations. Interviews with lead organizers from the committee (Jorge Mujica, Artemio Arreola, Omar Lopez) along with prominent activists from the Pilsen and Little Village communities (Carlos Arango, Jesus Garcia) provide a candid look at the work that went into organizing the historic marches.

    Key Terms: 2006 Immigrants' Rights Mobilizations, El Comite 10 de Marzo, H.R. 4437, Mega Marcha, Immigrants' Rights Activism in Pilsen and Little Village
  • Mexico-Chicago Oral History (1999-2002)
    With over 50 years of history in Chicago, the Mexican community has become an integral part of this city in numerous ways. The strong sense of activism carried across the border and implemented in fights surrounding education equality, political representation, and social justice, brings to light the resiliency and resolve of this community. Interviews with elected officals (Ricardo Munoz, Jesus Garcia) and long-standing community members (Irma Romero, Jaime Jimenez) highlight family and personal narratives that make up the story of Mexico-Chicago.

    Key Terms: Immigration, Politics, Education, Social Service, Pilsen, Little Village
  • Latinos in Mexico-Chicago Oral History (2000-2001)
    An international city, Chicago is home to one of the most diverse populations in the country. In Chicago, Latinos make up nearly 30% of the population, the majority Mexican but many others from Puerto Rican, Central American, and even South American backgrounds. Interviews with Guatemalan, Chilean, and Puerto Rican social service providers who ehave worked within the Mexican community in Chicago deliver a unique take on themes addressed within the collection but through the perspective of non-Mexican Latinos.

    Key Terms: Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Amigas Latinas, Chicago Birth Weavers, Women's Health LGBQ Activism

Activism for women's rights and LGBQ issues in Chicago are nothing new. The misconceptions that these matters are oftentimes ignored in the Latino community are continually disproved by the great work being done by many in the Latino community around issues concerning women. The Voice of Chicago Feminism Collection brings the narratives of not only Latinos doing social work for Latinos in Latino communities but also offers a frank dialogue that debunks stereotypes around feminism and LGBQ issues within the Latino community.

Notable Interviews: Alicia Amador and Evette Cardona

Key Terms: Amigas Latinas, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Women's Health, LGBQ rights, Latino Feminism

Research on Latino homelessness in Chicago makes up the body of this collection. Interviews with both participants and service providers give a look at some the obstacles to establishing a stable home and providing emergency services to those who cannot within the Latino community. Focus groups with service providers and agencies add a nuanced discussion about the realities of tackling the homelessness issue in the city of Chicago.
Key Terms: Latino Homelessness, Food Pantries, Social Service Agencies, Homeless Shelters, West Town, Uptown

Oral histories from the Bridgeport neighborhood in the south-side of Chicago from the mid 1990's are the main body of work for this research collection. Interviews with police officers and community members highlight themes of safety, labor, and general perceptions of the traditional working class, culturally diverse neighborhood. Key Terms: Bridgeport, Mayor Richard M. Daley, 9th Police District, Labor, Politics

Latin American and Latino Studies Archives

The DePaul University Libraries Special Collections & Archives houses the Latin American & Latino Studies Archives. Items include the Brockman-Oscar Romero papers, the Mujeres Latinas en Acción documents, the Venceremos Brigade documents and books, the Latino Institute Records, the Young Lords Collection, the Mirta Ramirez Collection, and the CLR acquisition of the personal manuscripts of Luz Maria Umpierre, poet and human rights advocate.

Mirta Ramirez is a long standing proponent of education rights for Latinos in Chicago. Her collaborative effort with the Center for Latino Research yielded over 36 interviews with prominent Puerto Rican Chicagoans. Each interviewee shares an authentic account of life as a Puerto Rican in Chicago during the second half of the twentieth century. Topical themes covered in this collection, include: Division Street Riots, bilingual education, race, and identity; and migrating from the Island to Chicago.
Notable Interviews: Carmen Maldonado, Jose Lopez, Katherine Ortiz, Miguel del Valle, Joseph Berrios, and Ray Suarez

Key Terms:Puerto Rico, Division Street Riots, Puerto Rican Identity, Bilingual Education for Latinos, Puerto Rican Heritage

This collection includes materials donated by members of the Young Lords as well as oral histories conducted by the Center for Latino Research at DePaul University.

Restrictions: In library use only