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

Nancy Alicia De Los Santos Reza "My mission is to be a part of elevating the image of Latinas in all media. And to me, that means reflecting a realistic image."

Nancy Alicia De Los Santos Reza was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were born in Texas and migrated to the big city after World War II. Nancy’s father, Nicolas, served in the Navy. Her mother, Micaela, was a stay-at-home mother and housewife, raising six children. Their own negative experience with speaking Spanish in Texas schools, led to the decision for their children to speak English only.

Ruth Mojica-Hammer “Look for something to do, be involved, find a reason to exist!”

As the Executive Director of Spanish Language Programming at a local Chicago TV station Ruth ‘Rhea’ Mojica-Hammer was also the first Mexican American woman to run for congressional office in the state of Illinois. Although she didn’t win, Rhea, went on to manage a successful campaign for the first Latina elected to public office in Illinois, Cook County Commissioner Irene Hernandez.

Blanca Vargas “When I became a citizen in 1972 it’s like somebody put a little fire under me and said, ‘Blanca, you’re going to help other people become citizens as well.’ ”

Blanca Vargas was born in Durango, Mexico on a rare snowy day; this inspired her name. Blanca spent her childhood in Durango, where she was competitive in sports, danced ballet folkorico and helped her father at his pharmacy. From him she learned the concept of helping others, as he often helped his clients that couldn’t afford badly needed medications.  Blanca also learned British English from a private teacher at Escuela America during her youth.