History Faculty Publications and Presentations

Oral History: A Tool for the Study of Mexican American History in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1987


Scholars of Chicano history have been negligent in using oral history as a research tool whereas colleagues in other disciplines (e.g., Manuel Gomio, Paul Taylor, Oscar Lewis, and Americo Paredes) have used the technique extensively. The growing list of oral history projects since the early 1970's argues well for the greater use of oral history collections in writing on Chicano folklore, immigration, farm labor, political movements, and border history. However, a brief survey of history texts on the lower Rio Grande Valley reveals a striking neglect of Chicano history in the 20th century even though the history of this minority antedates that of the Anglos, and the bulk of the population is Chicano. Yet works by Lyle Brown, Devra Anne Weber, George N. Green, and Ricardo Romo show the type of Chicano information that can be gathered. Interviews conducted between 1976 and the present provide eye witness accounts of ranching, the medical profession, Mexican Revolution, border turmoil, migrations, ethnic relations, and social, economic, and political aspects of life in the lower Rio Grande Valley since 1900. These pioneering efforts in using oral history must be increased so that a more comprehensive account can be written about all aspects of Chicano experiences. (NQA)

Publication Title

The Oral History Review