John Trevino, Austin’s first Mexican-American city council member, can be seen pictured on the cover of the first issue of the US Latino & Latina Oral History Journal, the first professional academic journal of its field.
Thursday evening, the Center for Mexican American Studies hosted a celebration of the launch of the journal, which is a research publication exploring experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the United States through interviews. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, journalism professor and founding editor of the journal, said the significance of the journal relies on its emphasis of oral storytelling.
“Oral history is one of the most fundamental ways that we can capture our stories,” Rivas-Rodriguez said.
Rivas-Rodriguez also said oral history can be used to fill in the gaps left by lack of archival information such as diaries, letters and memoirs about Latinas and Latinos in the U.S.
“When I was growing up, if I was reading a book about U.S. history, I would not find Latinos in it at all,” Rivas-Rodriguez said. “Latinos keep on getting left out of the tapestry, so in order for us to be included, you have to do the research and the way you have to do the research is by using primary source material, and oral history is a great primary source material.”
The peer-reviewed journal will publish issues annually because of how long it takes academic experts to review manuscripts of the interviews. The first issue focuses on political and civic engagement amongst Latinas and Latinos in the U.S.
Vinicio Sinta Morales, managing editor for the journal, said each issue will focus on different topics, but the research conducted for the journal has to be primarily based on interviews, and it has to be about Latinos and Latinas in the U.S.
“Every year we will have a special theme,” journalism graduate student Morales said. “The second one is more about oral history as a method of research and teaching …. However, we also review other topics and general research about Latinos.”
Mexican-American studies junior Fatima Silva said the journal will allow increased access to information about the history of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S.
“There is a lot of information, but you have to actually go look at it yourself,” Silva said. “It’s not going to be handed to you as easy as American history is.”