Spanish-Language Newspapers from El Misisipí to El Clamor Público

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/16/09

The Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 resource includes hundreds of Spanish-language newspapers printed in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. It documents the print cultures of Spanish-speaking communities in 22 US states. The resource is invaluable for USC researchers in the fields of American studies and ethnicity, history, journalism, sociology, and literature.

It starts with the very first Spanish-language newspaper, New Orleans’ El Misisipí, aimed at Spanish exiles who opposed Napoleon’s conquest of their native country, and includes such historically significant publications as José Martí’s La Patria—which advocated for Cuban and Puerto Rican independence from Spain in the 1890s—and L.A.’s El Clamor Público, which was the first Spanish-language newspaper in California after the U.S. conquest of what was then northwest Mexico. Founded by 19-year-old Francisco P. Ramirez, the former Spanish editor of the Los Angeles Star, El Clamor Público appeared weekly from 1855 to 1859.

USC journalism professor Félix Gutiérrez first uncovered El Misisipí while researching the early history of Spanish-language media in the U.S. He worked with USC Libraries associate dean of collections Lynn Sipe and librarian Barbara Robinson to bring the resource to the libraries. He is currently using the e-resource for his class, Latino News Media in the United States, as well as Voices for Justice, a proposed documentary film and book project—created with USC students and outside partners—commemorating the 200th anniversary of Latino media in the United States.

The resource is invaluable, Gutiérrez said, because you “can track the evolution of Latino media and communities through the fights for Latin American territories to gain freedom from Spain; the feelings of Mexican-origin people whose lands were taken and citizenship changed after the U.S. war against Mexico ended in 1848; publications for newcomers in New York and the Southwest in the early 20th century; newspapers covering civil rights struggles following World War II, and much, much more.”

He added that the newspaper articles provide a rare inside view of Spanish-speaking communities across the United States for the last 200 years. “Nothing beats reading firsthand accounts or seeing pictures that were produced at the time and in the place that events were happening,” Gutiérrez said.

In contrast with way many historians depict the histories of 19th and early 20th century Latino communities, he said, the images and stories from newspapers “reveal our communities to have been much more active, engaged, and concerned with public affairs.”

Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 includes bilingual Spanish and English newspapers and provides access to the viewpoints of politicians, celebrated writers like José Martí, union organizers, and ordinary members of Spanish-speaking communities across the United States. It is searchable by dates and historical periods, article types, languages, place of publication, and newspaper title.

You can explore the resource from the USC Libraries e-resources page.

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Detail from the front page of an October 12, 1808, edition of El Misisipí

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