Institute For Higher Education Law And Governance


Invitational Conference on Texas Lawyer Alonso Perales (1898-1960), January 12-13, 2012, University of Houston


The University of Houston, Arte Público Press, through the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, the Special Collections Department of the MD Anderson Library, and the UH Law Center announce that the papers of Alonso Perales have been acquired and are available for scholarly examination. Alonso Perales (1898-1960) was among the most important organizational figures and public intellectuals of his time, and was instrumental in early 20th century Mexican American political development in Texas. Perales graduated from George Washington University School of Law in 1926, making him one of the earliest Mexican American attorneys to practice law in Texas. He not only had a successful law practice, but helped found the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), served his country in several diplomatic capacities, and was a prolific writer.

The University of Houston and Arte Público Press, through the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, acquired his papers and archives in 2009, and this treasure trove, which has been cited in significant scholarship, is the source of a scholarly conference to be held at the University of Houston in January 12-13, 2012, by means of solicitations and a call for papers derived from this collection. This conference will be held in conjunction with an MD Anderson-curated exhibit of the papers, correspondence, and other materials from the Perales Collection. Conference sponsors invite proposals from historians, legal scholars, sociologists, literary scholars, and others from any of the humanities and social sciences with an interest in early 20th century Texas political development concerning Mexican, Mexican Americans, and other groups in the state and region, drawn from the collection and other available materials. We invite doctoral students, scholars of all ranks, and independent researchers with interests in this important period, particularly those with interests in the early Mexican American social and political organizations, especially  LULAC, Order Sons of America (OSA), and 100 Loyal Citizens. Early work derived from these archives suggests that Mexican American political organizing and social consciousness arose much earlier than has been generally credited in the work of earlier historians, political scientists, and other scholars. Whereas many scholars place these origins in the late 1920s, especially with the events leading up to the 1929 founding of LULAC, in Corpus Christi, Texas, the Perales papers and materials reveal roots to predecessor groups and to events from the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the end of the Porfiriato, and the early 1920s. These family-held papers, now searchable, in microfilm format, promise to fill out the record on the structured role of Mexican American men and women in these mutual aid societies and civic organizations, as well as the behind-the-scenes role of lawyers—in this instance, not primarily as litigators, but as civic leaders and elected officials. Perales also carried on an extraordinary correspondence with many Latino and Latina and other political figures, revealing wide and deep contacts and affiliations. (Examples include Adela Sloss Vento, George I. Sanchez, and Anastasio Somoza.)

We solicit analytic research that makes use of the archive to understand the larger significance of Perales and his papers and we encourage proposals from interested scholars. Arte Público Press also intends to re-issue his two books: Are We Good Neighbors?, which documents cases of racial discrimination, and the two-volume En defensa de mi raza, which compiled many of his essays and speeches on racial discrimination and those of other intellectuals. (En defensa de mi raza is now available in digitized form at Perales was also a regular columnist for La Prensa and other Spanish-language newspapers, with columns entitled “Arquitectos de nuestros propios destinos,” which spoke of Mexican-American civil rights issues, and “Por mi religión” which presented issues related to the Catholic Church and its relationship with Mexican Americans, social justice, and civil rights.

The Perales Collection Finding Aid is downloadable at
. Persons with interests are invited to read the Aid, and to make appointments to review the collection at the Special Collections at MD Anderson or contact the Director of Research, Dr. Carolina A. Villarroel, [ ],  at the Recovering the US Hispanic  Literary Program for questions about the collection on microfilm. Anyone with questions may contact UH Law Professor Michael A. Olivas, the conference coordinator [, 713-743-2078] to discuss their proposals and the conference. Proposals must be received in Word format at  by December 30, 2010 and papers must be completed by November 30, 2011. All the papers are expected to draw from the Perales Collection and to constitute original work, which Arte Público Press will publish in its US Civil Rights Series [] and will record for archival access. The authors of accepted papers will be invited to present them at the conference, scheduled to be held at the MD Anderson Library on January 12-13, 2012. Travel and conference expenses will be underwritten by the conference sponsors.

Please distribute this information widely and post, as appropriate, on professional networks.

Authors in Alonso S. Perales Book Project, Michael A. Olivas, ed. (forthcoming, Arte Publico Press) (draft, 1/30/11)

  • Alonso S. Perales and the Catholic Imaginary: Religion and the Mexican American Mind
    Mario T. García
    Professor of Chicano Studies and History
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    (805) 893-4074


  • A Corpus of Letters from the Alonso S. Perales Collection: The Literary Enuciation of Historical Reality and Cultural Values
    Donna Marie Kabalen
    Chair, Department of Humanities Studies
    School of Humanities and Social Sciences
    Tecnológico de Monterrey; Campus Monterrey
    01(81) 81-58-22-75
    Conmutador: 01(81)-83-58-20-00 Ext. 4605
    Enlace intercampus: 80689-4605
  • Alonso Perales and the Struggle for Mexican-American Civil Rights As Seen Through the Lens of Contemporary Legal Theory
    George A. Martinez
    Professor of Law
    Dedman School of Law
    Southern Methodist University
    PO Box 750116
    Dallas, TX  75275-0116
    Fax 214-768-4330


  • Trials of Unity: Rethinking the Mexican American Generation in Texas, 1948-1960
    Joseph Orbock Medina, PhD Student
    History Department
    University of California, Berkeley
    1607 Fairview St. Apt. C
    Berkeley, CA 94703
    (817) 658 – 1699
  • Changing Voices: Approaching Modernity from Mexican to Mexican-American to Chicano in the Epistolary Archives of Alonso S. Perales
    Norma Adelfa Mouton
    University of Houston
    Department of Hispanic Studies
    416 Agnes Arnold Hall
    Houston, Texas 77204-3006
    281-703-6198 (C)                                                    
  • Perales and LULAC in the 1930s
    Cynthia E. Orozco, Chair,
    Eastern New Mexico University, Ruidoso
    P. O. Box 7908
    Ruidoso, NM 88355
    (575) 257-2120 ext.383 (0)
  • Perales’ advocacy for “Latin Americans” in the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Dioceses of Corpus Christi and Austin
    Virginia Marie Raymond
    3209 Hemlock Avenue
    Austin, Texas 78722
    Center for Mexican American Studies
    P.O. Box 41476 College of Liberal Arts
    Austin, Texas 78704 University of Texas at Austin 78712
  • Anglos and Latin Americans in Texas:  Alonso S. Perales and the Social Concept of the Existence of a “Mexican” Race
    Lupe S. Salinas
    Professor of Law
    Texas Southern University
    Thurgood Marshall School of Law
    3100 Cleburne Street
    Houston, Texas 77004
    713-313-7353 office
    832-276-6056 cell
  • 'Mendigos de Nacionalidad:' Mexican-Americanism, Citizenship, and Narrating the Nation, 1920-1960
    Aarón Sánchez, Ph.D. Candidate
    Southern Methodist University
    Clements Department of History
    5746 Caruth Haven Ln. #108
    Dallas, TX 75206
    (210) 725-5890

In addition, we have signed F. Arturo Rosales (Arizona State) to write the full length biography, employing the UH archives, and Emilio Zamora (U of Texas) to edit the out-of-print books by ASP, En Defensa de Mi Raza and Are We Good Neighbors?(to be re-issued, by APP)