About | Chicana por mi Raza


What is Chicana por mi Raza?


Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective is a group of historians, educators, researchers, archivists and technologists dedicated to preserving imperiled Chicanx and Latinx histories of the long Civil Rights Era. Started by Professor Maria Cotera and filmmaker Linda Garcia Merchant in 2009, CPMR has traveled to over one dozen states, interviewed more than 70 people, and collected hundreds of hours of oral histories and scanned archives for preservation and access. Using largely volunteer and student labor, CPMR pioneers a model for grass roots history creation that encourages further research into both Latinx studies and a model for grassroots digitzation projects. The overarching objective of the project is to provide broad‐based public access to oral histories, material culture, correspondence, and rare out‐of‐print publications for use in both scholarly research and the classroom. 

Collection Details


Chicana por mi Raza began collecting oral histories in 2009. Since then, the CPMR team has interviewed more than 52 women. From these interviews we've collected and processed approximately 5500 archival items, with another 3000 or so awaiting digitizing, description and uploading. Most of the oral histories consist of several hours of film footage, and some women have been interviewed more than once. Our online digital repository currently contains approximately 4900 available digital records and over 439 interview clips.


Browse Recovered Histories

Emily Martinez “My parents are the ones who taught me what I know.”

Emily Martinez was born in Texas in 1939, and moved to Blissfield, Michigan as a child. The oldest of ten children, Martinez came from a family with a long history of working as migrant farmers. Although her grandparents and parents grew up following the crop from La Feria, Texas to northern Michigan, Martinez’s parents ultimately settled in Blissfield in 1948 to raise their family. In transitioning from being migrant farmworkers to seasonal workers, Martinez’s family experienced racial discrimination in school, in attempting to purchase a home in a white neighborhood, and at work.

Elena Herrada “I really wanted to have a better understanding of the people that I had grown up around and the systems that I had seen oppress people.”

Elena Herrada was born on March 28, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, becoming involved with activism and Chicano Boricua studies. She graduated in 1980 with a degree in Criminal Justice and a major in Chicano Boricua Studies. Her motivation to graduate partially stemmed from her grandfather, who attended her graduation wearing full revolutionary regalia, shouting, “Viva Herrada!”

Jane Garcia "I had a choice in becoming politically active in one party or another, and I chose this. I had no choice in the rest of the stuff in my life, but I had a choice here."

Jane Garcia was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1948. She attended public and parochial schools, and is a graduate of Wayne State Community College. She is a licensed social worker, a former cosmetologist, and a constant advocate for positive social change in Detroit. Garcia has spent decades working for the United States Bureau of the Census, focusing on the Midwestern Hispanic population.