Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.
The collection I’m going to highlight is the Oral History Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas (RH MS 750). The collection consists of interview transcripts, audio tapes, and photographs. This project was funded by a grant from what is now Humanities Kansas.
For example, in her interview Cipriana “Sue” Rodriquez spoke about the harsh conditions and treatment her father faced as part of the working class in Mexico before coming to Garden City to work for the railroad, originally in 1900. Cipriana also discussed living in a railroad house, her experience in school, the family’s work experiences, and the strong sense of community among the Hispanic families.
Similarly, Lydia Mendoza de Gonzalez and Louis Mendoza discussed the conditions in Mexico that lead to family members coming to Garden City around 1900. They spoke of growing up in a culturally traditional Mexican household and the discrimination faced by the Hispanic community. A primary focus of this interview was education and Lydia’s efforts to help members of the community get the financial support they needed to attain a vocational education.
The other oral history collections are the Oral History Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Emporia, Kansas (RH MS 751) and the Kansas City, Kansas, Spanish Speaking Office Interviews and Slides (RH MS 752).
September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month! To help celebrate, this week’s post offers a peak into the history of the Latin American Student Union.
The KU student organization has been known as LASU since 2017, and the group describes itself as “a non exclusive social space for Latinx students at KU to find community.” According to a 2008 KU news release, LASU was “formed in 1971 as the Association of Mexican American Students.” The group “changed its name in 1974 to Movimiento Estuadiantil Chicano de Aztlan. In 1986, it became known as HALO [Hispanic American Leadership Organization] to better reflect the diversity of Hispanic representation. The group’s mission [was] to meet the academic, social and cultural needs of the Hispanic student population at KU.”