The Joe J. Bernal Papers
Dr. Joe J. Bernal is a former social worker, teacher, Texas state legislator, and Mexican American civil rights advocate. Bernal grew up in San Antonio, Texas and after graduating from high school he served in the armed forces (he was honorably discharged in 1946). In 1950 he received his BA in sociology from Trinity University and his M.Ed. from Our Lady of the Lake College in 1954.
In 1964 Bernal ran for and won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. He served one term as Representative and then went on to serve in the Senate until 1972. While in the Senate he authored Texas’ first bilingual education act in 1969. Bernal’s other accomplishments include authoring legislation to: authorize Texas' first minimum wage law; the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) 45-minute teacher planning time; the creation of state supported kindergarten for some five-year olds; establishing the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as well as the dental and nursing schools in San Antonio; and a resolution to ratify the lowering of the voting age to eighteen. In 1978 he received his Ph.D. from UT Austin and was one of the authors of Gunpowder Justice, a book published in 1979 about the Texas Rangers.
The Joe J. Bernal Papers are housed at the Benson Latin American Collection and contain personal and biographical records, correspondence, professional files, subject and legislative files, audiovisual materials, and ephemera. The materials range from 1940 to 1981 and document the life and work of former Senator Joe J. Bernal.