Alice Dickerson Montemayor Papers, 1920-1989
An active participant in the national leadership of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) during the late 1930’s, a feminist, and, later in life, a folk artist, Alice Dickerson Montemayor was born Aug. 6, 1902 in Laredo, Texas. The death of her father caused Alice to drop her plans of studying law. Having graduated from Laredo High School in 1924, she remained in Laredo to assist her mother. She was able to attend the local business college for a year. In 1927 she married Francisco Montemayor. They had two sons, Francisco and Aurelio. Throughout her life Alice Montemayor held many working positions, including social worker in Webb County from 1934 to 1949, business owner in the 1930’s and 1950’s, and school registrar in the Laredo school district, a position she held from 1956 till her retirement in 1972.
At the invitation of Esther Machuca, Montemayor joined LULAC as a charter member of Ladies LULAC 15 in 1936. She quickly rose within the women's chapter, becoming secretary from 1936-1937, and president in 1938-1939. Having garnered national attention through her reportage of the council’s activities in LULAC News, she served as a national delegate at the 1937 Houston LULAC convention. There she was elected to the position of second national vice president general. Alice Montemayor became the first woman elected to a national office in the organization. By 1940 she had become associate editor of LULAC News and director of Junior LULAC. In her role as vice president she became a leading voice for women at the national level. She promoted the creation of more ladies councils and wrote articles and editorials such as “Son Muy Hombres”, which denounced notions of male superiority and pushed for a more active role for women in the organization. Hoping to avoid many of “faults” found in earlier LULAC councils, she organized the youth group Junior LULAC and served as its president from 1939-1940. Mrs. Montemayor left LULAC in 1940.
Having retired as school registrar in 1972, Alice Montemayor started painting and establishing herself as a folk artist. Although she started by painting gourds, by 1976, at the suggestion of her son, Aurelio, she started working with acrylics and other surfaces, like tin, wood, and masonite. Using bright primary colors, she often depicted women, family, and nature in her works. Not limiting herself, Mrs. Montemayor frequently painted beyond the picture and onto the frame. She signed her works "Mom" and then "Admonty." The League of United Chicano Artist of Austin sponsored an exhibition of her work in 1978. This was followed in 1979 by an exhibit at the Instituto Cultural Mexicano in San Antonio. Her work was also displayed in a number of other American cities and in Mexico. In 1988 she was the focus of a presentation at fifty-ninth Annual LULAC Convention and at the Smithsonian Institution.
ALice Dickerson Montemayor died on May 13, 1989.
Orozco, Cynthia E. Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Montemayor, Alice Dickerson" http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmobl.html (accessed January 10, 2007).
Articles, clippings, correspondence, interviews, photographs and other papers documenting the life of Alice Dickerson Montemayor as a private individual, an activist and feminist, and as an artist. The papers in this collection are organized into three core series: Personal and Biographical, LULAC, and Artwork and Exhibitions. Documents about her personal life are located in the series Personal and Biographical. The LULAC series contains papers documenting her participation in that organization. The last series, Artwork and Exhibitions, covers the works she created as an artist. Larger-sized items are found in the series Oversized Materials.
The first series, Personal and Biographical, contains not only information about Alice Montemayor but also about her family, especially her two sons, Francisco and Aurelio. Here one will find photographs depicting Mrs. Montemayor at various stages in her life, from her days as a teenager to her later years. Year books from her high schools years, as well as documents from the 1974 reunion, are located in this series. There are a number of letters and postcards congratulating her son Francisco on his graduation in 1945. Her life as an artist is documented in two interviews and several articles and clippings. Her obituary is also located in this section. Miscellaneous items include blank stationery, a Loteria card, clippings of fellow artist Amado Pena, and some hand written recipes.
The documents found in the second series, LULAC, are primarily from the years when Mrs. Montemayor was an active member of the group. Although later years are covered, the mid-1930s to 1940 are the core years for items in this section. Correspondences with various members of LULAC, especially J.C. Machuca and Mauro Machado, can be found in this section. Herein are the minutes, correspondence, and financial records of Ladies Council 15 from the year 1937. Also found in this section is a paper by Cynthia Orozco titled, “Alice Dickerson Montemayor and the Feminist Challenge to LULAC in the 1930s.”
The third series, Artwork and Exhibitions, contains those documents that are primarily concerned with the works she produced in her later years. In this section one finds not only photographic slides of some her works, but also pamphlets and brochures documenting her various exhibits, an artist’s notebook, and numerous sketches and paintings.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Alice Dickerson Montemayor Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.
Box and Folder Inventory