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

Dr. Elena Mulcahy “I’m not interested in being remembered, I’m interested in having the work survive.”

Dr. Elena Mulcahy was born on the South side of Chicago, Illinois on May 24, 1937 as Elena Berezaluce.  Her parents were immigrants from Tabasco, Mexico.  Although she grew up with her cousins on Chicago’s South side, her family lived in an area where there were few other Mexicans. Growing up bilingual, at an early age Elena not only helped translate for her primarily Spanish-speaking parents, but also for other community members and her fellow students and teachers.

Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias “I don’t want to just be a stewardess and just serve coffee – I want to be Lois Lane…”

Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias was born in East Chicago, Indiana to Mexican migrants. After her father’s retirement from working in a steel mill while she was in grammar school, her family relocated to El Paso, Texas. There, she attended a Lithuanian school where she was one of the few Latinas.  It was when she attended Urban High School, whose population was predominantly children of white military families, that she began noticing social politics.  For example, she noted that as more Latino students enrolled in the high school, most were being placed in remedial courses. 

Virginia Gomez Oviedo “I think one of the biggest things is that they need to be unafraid, unafraid to look at things differently than how they’ve been told to look at things, whether it’s in school, even at home…do not be afraid, you’re going to probably take some criticism. You won’t think you know how to do it, but you’ll learn. It’s a fun path, living is fun.”

Virginia Gomez Oviedo was born in 1945 on the Southeast side of Chicago. Her family first lived in the Maxwell Street area, a diverse port of entry for many of Chicago’s immigrants.  When her family moved to the South Shore neighborhood, however, her community and school were not very diverse and the family faced racism.  Facing this discrimination at a very young age fostered her political consciousness and activism.