The Benson Latin American Collection

Leo James Leo Papers, ca. 1960-1985

Descriptive Summary

Creator Leo, Leo James, 1917-1981
Title Leo James Leo Papers
Dates: ca. 1960-1985
Abstract This collection contains items relating to the life and activities of Mexican American political and civil rights leader Leo J. Leo of La Joya, Texas.
Accession No. 1984-21
OCLC Record No. 22945887
Language English and Spanish
Repository Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Leo was born in Mission, Texas on 14 March 1917. Early in his life the family moved to La Joya. In 1937 he received his teaching certificate from the Texas A&I University. His first teaching assignment was in Zapata, Texas where he met Feliz Bustamante, whom he married on 26 May 1940. After the war they moved back to La Joya. He served as mayor from 1965 to 1979.

Political leader from La Joya, Texas and advocate for the poor Leo James Leo championed many Mexican-American causes. He was involved in both local and statewide politics. Leo served on the boards of directors of many Great Society poverty programs, such as the Associated City and County Economic Corporation, helping the poor with food, job assistance, housing, and medical help. He was often involved in controversy because of his forthright defense of these programs. In 1960 Leo and other Mexican-American political leaders organized the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO). Leo chaired the 1,000 member Hidalgo chapter of PASSO, the largest in the state. He also formed the Hidalgo County Political League, an association of liberal Anglo-American and Mexican-American Democrats, in the late 1960s. In addition, he assisted with summer youth programs and helped file citizenship papers for many Mexican immigrants. Leo James Leo died in McAllen, Texas on 14 July 1981.

Scope and Contents Note

The Leo James Leo collection is structured around four series: La Joya political activities and statements; Guillermo Flores Elementary School dedication; Personal and family history; and Posthumous dedications and tributes. There are video and audiotape interviews of Leo in the collection. Political handbills, programs, pamphlets, and political mailings are examples of the kind of printed materials found in this grouping. There are drafts and notes of speeches, one by Leo and one in tribute to Leo by Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower. The collection includes items from the dedication of the La Joya City Hall. A videotape and photographs show the dedication ceremony of a La Joya school named after Leo. Also found in this collection is a transcription of the obituary of Edward Dougherty, Leo?s Great-Grandfather.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Standard copyright restrictions apply.

Index Terms

The Leo James Leo Papers are classified under the following Subject Headings in the University of Texas Libraries' catalog:
Leo, Leo James, 1917-1981.
Doughherty, Edward, 1819-1877.
La Joya Independent School District
Mexican Americans--Texas--Politics and government.
School elections--Texas--La Joya.
La Joya (Tex.).
Other Authors
Leo, Leo James, 1917-1981.
Hightower, Jim, 1943-
La Joya Independent School District (La Joya, Tex.)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Leo James Leo Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.

Box and Folder Inventory


I. La Joya Political Activities and Statements

box folder
1 1 Political Leaflets
Political broadside for La Joya School District elections, cop.1-3.
Political broadside for "Partido Progresista Liberal" rally.
Newsclippings (oversize), school district funding (1965?)
2 City Hall Dedication, La Joya
Program from La Joya City Hall dedication ceremony, La Joya, TX, May 18, 1975.
3 Political Form Letter and Statement of Facts, 1978
Political form letter with statements of fact, April 5, 1978, cop.1-2.


II. Guillermo Flores Elementary School Dedication.

box folder
1 4 Guillermo Flores Elementary School
Handwritten draft of Leo's speech at the dedication ceremony of Guillermo Flores Elementary School, March 22, 1981.
Program from the Flores Elementary School dedication, cop.1-2.
Pamphlet from the Flores Elementary School dedication, cop.1-3.
5 Guillermo Flores Elementary School--photographs
19 photographs of the Flores Elementary School dedication ceremony. (Many of the people photographed are identified with notations.)


III. Posthumous Tributes

box folder
1 6 Posthumous Tributes
Broadside: "Calaveras de Elección," poem by Fernando Becerra, November 2, 1982.
Program for the Mexican American Democrats of Texas Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, August 28-29, 1981.
Newsclippings: "They, the People, Knew He Was One of Them," by Bill Porterfield, Dallas Times Herald, May 16, 1983, p. A-11.
7 Leo J. Leo Elementary School (posthumous dedication, 1985)
Program from the Leo J. Leo Elementary School dedication ceremony, March 2, 1985.
Photocopy of handwritten notes of speech given by Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower at Leo J. Leo Elementary School dedication ceremony.
8 Transcript of Newspaper Article about Leo's Great-Grandfather
Transcript of obituary for Judge Edward Dougherty (Leo's great-grandfather), Brownsville Herald Sentinel, May 25, 1877.


IV. Loose Items

box folder
1 Interview with Leo J. Leo, June 8, 1980, 1-3:30 p.m. (1/4" audio tape)(family history and political career)
Interview with Leo J. Leo and others, KRGU-TV News, 1979 on Mexican Americans in politics (1" video cassette)
Leo J. Leo Elementary School dedication ceremony (3/4" video cassette)