Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Little School of the 400 Collection MSS.0205



Descriptive Summary

Creator Little School of the 400
Title: Little School of the 400 Collection
Dates: 1958-1962
Identification: MSS.0205
Quantity: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Historical Note

The "Little School of the 400" was founded by Felix Tijerina in 1957. Tijerina became national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1956 and under his direction LULAC inituated the "Little School of the 400" as a pioneer effort in Mexican-American education. The program intended to teach Spanish-speaking preschool children four-hundred basic English words so that they could deal adequately with the first grade. In this manner, its advocates reasoned, Mexican-American children would not fall behind in their early school years, become discouraged, and ultimately drop out at the alarming rate which characterized the Texas Mexican community at that time.

The pilot projects were established in the Texas towns of Ganado and Edna in 1957, and by the following year had spread to other places in the state. The overwhelming majority of the project's preschoolers went on to sucessfully finish the first grade, a dramatic contrast to the apalling failure rate of children who did not receive such instruction.

The "Little Schools of the 400" were consistent with LULAC's traditional emphasis on education as a primary focus for Mexican American advancement. Tijerina's own non-confrontational approach in dealing with Anglo society represented a principal tactic of the late 1940's and 1950's, especially during the Eisenhower years. In 1959, Tijerina's friendly persuasion convinced the parsimonious Texas State Legislature to adopt and fund the concept as the Preschool Instructional Classes for Non-English Speaking Children.

Tijerina and LULAC worked to spread the program across the Southwest. Ultimately, it became a model for Project Headstart under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. Felix Tijerina's approach made Houston a focal point of state and national attention on Mexican-American issues. Such periodicals as the Saturday Evening Post and Time magazine featured articles on Tijerina and the plight of Latin American education.


Scope and Contents

The collection contains copies of pages from David Adame's registration book and correspondence from Jake Rodriguez, Executive Director of "The Little School of the 400". There are also financial reports by the LULAC Educational Fund, Inc. from 1958 through 1962. Copies of lists of the schools that were qualified for the "Little School of the 400", Spanish program radio stations, and LULAC councils in the state of Texas are also in the collection.

The materials in this collection were collected by Dr. Guadalupe C. Quintanilla, Associate Provost of the University of Houston and a representative of many successful Mexican-Americans in higher education, when she was writing her doctoral dissertation in 1976.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

None.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Little School of the 400 Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.


Index Terms

League of United Latin American Citizens
Little School of the 400
Quintanilla, Guadalupe C.
Tijerina, Felix, Sr., 1905-1965
Education, Preschool
Education--Texas
Hispanic American civic leaders--Texas--Houston
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mexican Americans--Education
Mexican Americans--Texas--Houston

Related Material

MSS 108 Felix Tijerina, Sr. Family Papers

MSS 160 John J. Herrera Papers

RG 1314 LULAC News Collection


Administrative Information

Donor Information

The materials in this collection were collected by Dr. Guadalupe C. Quintanilla, Associate Provost of the University of Houston and a representative of many successful Mexican-Americans in higher education, when she was writing her doctoral dissertation in 1976. A school dropout at age fourteen, she reentered the educational system as an adult, and against much adversity, eventually earned a doctorate. Quintanilla moved beyond the campus, involving herself in a legion of civic affairs. She pioneered teaching Spanish language and Hispanic culture courses to Houston police officers. Nationally, she served for a time on the United States delegation to the United Nations during the Reagan Administration.

Preferred Citation

Little School of the 400 Collection. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Special Collections, M.D. Anderson Library, University of Houston in 1981.

Processing Information

Processed by Thomas Kreneck.

Digitized Materials

Digitized material related to this collection is available at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/images/id/4387/rec/1


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Little School of the 400 Program

Box Folder
1 1 H.B. 51/S.B. 62: Bill authorizing a pre-school instructional program for non-English speaking children, legislature of the State of Texas, 1959-1960
2 Copies of a list of schools which qualify for the "Little School of the 400" program, 1959
3 Copies pages from David Adame's Registration Book of "Little School of the 400", Book I, 1960
4 Copies pages from David Adame's Registration Book of "Little School of the 400", Book II, 1960
5 Copies of Little School of the 400 Register July 1960
6 Copies of the Register of the Little School of the 400 August 1960
7 Jake Rodriguez, Executive Director of "Little School of the 400", correspondence



 

LULAC Education Fund, Inc.

Box Folder
1 8 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., correspondence from 1958-1971
9 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, June 1, 1958-September 15, 1958
10 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, December 31, 1958
11 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, June 30, 1959-April 30, 1960
12 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, 1957-1961
13 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, October 1, 1957- Feburary 28, 1962
14 LULAC Educational Fund, Inc., Financial Report, December 31, 1962



 

Reports and Business Papers

Box Folder
1 15 Texas Education Agency Documents
16 Copy of "Little School of the 400" Statewide Fund Raising Campaign ticket stub
17 What Price EDUCATION?, Report of "Little School of the 400", 1962
18 Copies of a list of Spanish Program Radio Stations
19 "Cities for Distribution of Pre-School Notices"
20 "Cities Not Participating"
21 List of LULAC Councils in the State of Texas, 1959