Mexican Inclusion and Exclusion in Houston, Texas from 1900-1940



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Initial works on Houston provided homogenized interpretations of early twentieth century Mexicans as a monolithic, shared experience, grouping the entire population under a colonia label in a concentrated geographical area (Second Ward and Magnolia Park). These studies generalized the Mexican experience through a framework of exclusion from Anglo spaces between 1900-1940. Exclusion refers to the purposeful acts by Anglos designed to prohibit or limit individuals from participating in a targeted space through tactics of racism, discrimination, isolation, criminalization, exploitation, and/or marginalization. Later writings in the twenty-first century nuanced the historiography by examining the inclusion of Mexicans in social spaces by Anglos. Inclusion refers to instances when Mexicans participated, integrated, or were accepted into Anglo spaces. My study seeks to provide the first Houston monograph juxtaposing both inclusion and exclusion during these first four decades, demonstrating that experiences of Mexicans were heterogeneous. My study analyzes three spaces in Houston’s Progressive and Depression-eras: economic, learning, and social-cultural. In these spaces, I argue that intersecting dynamics shaped Mexican inclusion and exclusion. These dynamics include occupation, gender, class, language, nationality, citizenship, health, morality, residence, music, talent, race, and marital status. My dissertation demonstrates that the lived experiences of Mexicans were diverse. The varying degree of access and level of participation Mexicans faced makes clear that we cannot apply homogenizing generalizations or view the Mexican experience solely through racial exclusion. In this study, I made use of the latest digital technologies to reconstruct narratives. Using this technology, I searched online repositories such as The Portal to Texas History and GenealogyBank. Genealogical databases like also provided extensive amounts of data. Cross-referencing keywords in such digital sources recovers previously unconsidered evidence. Because of this, my work has reconstructed messy and intricate accounts not previously studied. Filling this gulf, this dissertation reflects and contributes to the digital turn, particularly the recovery project Latino/a and Mexican American scholars are engaged in to tell local histories.



Houston, Mexican-American, Chicano, Chicana, History