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

Gloria Arellanes "I understand my power as a woman because I give life, I am a teacher, I am a nurturer, I provide spirituality teachings, and when we collectively come together as women, it's such a powerful thing."

Gloria Arellanes was born in East Los Angeles in 1946, but for the majority of her life, she has resided in El Monte, California, living in the same home for over fifty years. Her father was a first generation Mexican-American whose family migrated to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico, and her mother was a Tongva Native American. In the 1950s and 1960s, El Monte experienced extreme racial tension, and Arellanes witnessed race riots throughout her high school years. She attended college briefly before choosing to drop out, pursuing travel and more life experience.

Alicia Escalante “Don’t ever underestimate the power of a woman."

Alicia Escalante was born in El Paso Texas, in 1933 to what she describes as a traditional family. She was the second oldest of seven children, and she shared an intense bond with her mother. After 15 years of marriage, Escalante’s mother decided to divorce her father due to his infidelity, alcoholism and abuse. At the divorce court proceedings, her father was granted custody of all seven children, because of  her mother’s lack of employment and housing.

Yolanda Alaniz "I am a socialist feminist because I strongly believe that everybody can someday be equal and that we can end the oppression that we as 3rd World Women as well as other oppressed groups face."

Yolanda Alaniz was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Sunnyside, Washington in the Yakima Valley where she and her family worked as farmworkers. Tired of earning very low wages, her mother organized rallies along side other farm workers and most notably union leader Caesar Chavez to protest the unjust conditions and unfair wages many workers faced.