Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Harriet Denise Joseph
Dr. David C. Fisher
Dr. Anthony Knopp
The thesis analyzes the French-born people who settled in the Lower Rio Grande Valley between 1821 and 1900. It focuses on four key elements which are inter-related: Immigration, influence, integration and identity.
This study answers two complex questions: what was the influence exerted by the French-born settlers on the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and what was the influence of the area on their settlement, integration, and identity? Such an investigation aims to fill the gap in knowledge on the French and European presence in the 19th century Lower Rio Grande society, and to broaden our understanding of the immigration process in the North American borderlands.
This thesis relies primarily on the Lower Rio Grande Valley Population Schedules which compile the data used to elaborate the U.S. censuses. Information drawn from these sources is gathered in sixteen tables which illuminate the different characteristics of the French-born population. The Population Schedules were complemented by narrative sources.
This study demonstrates that, in spite of the fact that French-born settlers were few in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, their influence as a group and as individuals was determinant on the socio-economic and cultural evolutions of the area. They were also transformed by their immigration as they were compelled to adapt to the realities of this borderland area. Their re-settlements turned them into Valley immigrants whose identities became complex and inclusive.
University of Texas at Brownsville