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Narratives Newspaper - Vol 1 Issue 1

Editor's Note

Welcome to the premiere edition of Narratives, a project of the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism. This semester, J 352-Community Journalism has focused on capturing the stories of Latinos and Latinas of the World War II generation. Our efforts are part of a larger national oral history effort. (For more information about the umbrella project, please refer to the project Web page.)

This class is cross-listed under Latin American Studies and Mexican American Studies. So, some of our 13 students are not journalism majors, but rather bring with them new perspectives from their own areas of study. 

Our students range from a 40-something-year-old woman returning for an undergraduate degree in journalism, to an ethnic studies major from San Antonio bent on bringing alternative films to campus, to another ethnic studies major who hopes to teach some day at the college level. They have partnered up for the interviews one conducting the interview with the other one shooting video that is to be used by award-winning documentary film producer Hector Galán as field work for a film about the subject. The mix of students has produced what we hope you will find is a fresh enthusiasm and curiosity about journalism and history, in particular the history of World War II and U.S. Latinos.

One key to a successful oral history project lies in training interviewers. We have been fortunate to have an entire semester to train students and to have available to us authorities on various aspects of the project. Our speakers have included:

  • Dr. David Montejano, who is on the UT History Faculty and the director of the Center for Mexican American Studies, as well as the author of the award-winning Anglos and Mexican Americans in the Making of Texas 1936-1986.
  • Karen De Witt, ABC Nightline senior producer who produced a Nightline segment about an oral history project of the 40s and 50s with former slaves. Ms. De Witt addressed the topic of oral history as journalism.
  • Dr. David F. Crew, a member of the UT History Faculty who edited Nazism and German Society, 1933-1945.
  • Eduardo Idar, a Laredo native who joined the service during the war, brought home an English war bride, used the GI Bill to earn a law degree and became one of the early activists for the American GI Forum and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Mr. Idar now lives in San Antonio.

We have also spent considerable time learning to use equipment; our audio is intended to radio broadcast quality. We videotaped each interview÷ initially because it would help Hector Galánâs future documentary film. But we have become true believers in the power of the medium: being able to see these men and women, as well as hear them, make the interviews far more valuable and interesting to us and, we hope, to those who view the tapes in years to come. 

The Men and Women

Our deepest thanks go to the men and women we interviewed for this project.  They are living heros and heroines, adhering to the highest principles of honesty and hard work and fighting for what is right. They were born at a time of great and widespread poverty in our country, a period when young children often left school to help family finances. The difficult circumstances too often meant shorter life spans: many of our interview subjects lost a parent to an unknown illness during their childhoods. Those hardships toughened these men and women, as they were later able to overcome tremendous obstacles, some on the battlefield, others at home.

A recurring theme in the interviews has been the importance of education. All of them, even the ones who could not use the GI Bill themselves, believed in the value of education as the one asset that cannot be lost or stolen. 

And they are loyal. In their personal lives, many of them married early and stayed married for 50 and more years. 

They are equally loyal and patriotic to their country. In fact, what is particularly remarkable is that in their early years, these men and women were generally considered second-class citizens in the country they loved so dearly. They nonetheless had the courage to question the nature of limitations imposed upon them and to change their world. Collectively, they gave later generations different expectations and possibilities. Thank you to all the men and women whose stories appear on this first issue of Narratives and to the men and women whose stories will be printed in coming issues. Indeed, thank you to all those men and women of all races and backgrounds of the World War II generation who gave so much.

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Instructor - 352-Community Journalism

Browse all stories, including those that appeared in this issue.

Contributors to this Issue

Student Reporters

Ana Cristina Acosta - Senior, Journalism (News & Public Affairs)

Monica Jean Alaniz - Junior, Ethnic Studies

Lisa Cummings - Junior, Journalism (Broadcast)

Antonio Carlos Gilb - Junior, Public Relations

Minette Hernandez - Junior, Journalism (Broadcast)

Joshua Kyle Leighton - Junior, Journalism/Media Studies

Sofia Mena - Junior, Journalism (News & Public Affairs)

Rhonda Marie Miller - Senior, Journalism (Magazine)

Susan Mary Miller - Senior, Journalism, (News & Public Affairs) 

Haldun M. Morgan - Senior, Mexican American Studies 

Alicia Rascon - Sophomore, Psychology 

Andrea Kaye Valdez - Senior, Journalism, (Magazine)

Special Contributors

Richard Brito -- Volunteer, fact-checker

Juan Diaz -- Microcomputer Application Specialist, technical assistance

Andrea Garcia -- Volunteer; UT Photojournalism graduate student, photography

AT&T Wireless Services, cellular phones for group interviews 

Pedro Carrillo -- Volunteer, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard's office, general assistance 

Rene Abelardo Gonzalez -- Volunteer, interviewer; Director of Pre-Collegiate Programs, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

Instructional Media Center -- dubbing of tapes, College of Communication, UT-Austin

Michael Morales, Studio M, San Antonio, Texas -- Contributor, taping of San Antonio group interview

San Antonio Public Library Foundation -- Provided location for San Antonio group interview

Daniel M. Ortiz -- Volunteer;District Commander for the VFW in Los Angeles and Junior Vice Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Mexican Ancestry 

Guadalupe Lopez Rivas -- Volunteer, general assistance, including photo delivery

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Ca.-- Provided location for Los Angeles group interview

Maro Robbins -- Volunteer, helped organize San Antonio Group Interview; Reporter, the San Antonio Express -- News

Jamie Stockwell -- Volunteer, wrote story; Intern, the Washington Post


Sunitta Sarang -- Journalism work study

Le Trang-- Journalism work study

Jontel Serrano -- Journalism Graduate Student;   Journalism/CMAS work study

Miguel Angel Valdivieso -- Conference work study 

Reprint, courtesy of and Elisa Batista

Teaching Assistant: Cheryl Smith

Instructor: Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

Printing of the paper issue of Narratives provided by the Austin American-Statesman. 

Web Design and Production: Jontel Serrano

Thanks to:

This project has been refined over the past eight months and there are many people to thank.

  • The people at the Austin History Center who provided an excellent starting point, with forms, readings, and good advice.
  • Margo Gutierrez, of the Benson Latin American Collection, who has been a great source of advice and recommendations, besides giving our tapes and transcripts a home.
  • Don Carleton, director of the Center for American History, who arranged to bring Karen DeWitt to our campus, and is also providing a home for our interviews.
  • Angelica Luevano, of Latino USA, who lent us tape recorders and microphones in emergencies.
  • Dr. Loriene Roy, professor in the Graduate School of Library and Informational Science at UT, who has provided valuable advice and guidance.
  • Cleota Gambino, administrative associate, and Rhonda Whigham, senior administrative associate, who have worked as quickly as the university red tape allows (and sometimes more quickly than it allows!) to get equipment and supplies we needed.
  • Communications Dean Ellen Wartella who has provided funds for a lab publication. Because the Austin American-Statesman has provided printing this semester, we were able to use those funds for equipment needs.
  • Department Chair Steve Reese who has seen the importance of this project from the outset and has shared our enthusiasm and provided every resource possible.
  • The Eisenhower Center in New Orleans and the Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, California, which shared their experiences and documentation, which we have incorporated into our own project.
  • Austin American-Statesman for providing the layout and design, copy-editing and printing of this first Narratives. Particular thanks to Kathy Warbelow, managing editor, Sharon Roberts, assistant managing editor, and Robert Quigley, copy editor, for respective work this endeavor.