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.


Collective Members

Associate Director
Technical Director

Browse Recovered Histories

Sonia Lopez “My whole life was around my politics, my schoolwork and being a student was secondary.”

Sonia Lopez was born in Sonora, Mexico. She immigrated at a young age to the United States, moving to Imperial Valley before settling in Calexico, a border town in California.

Rita Sanchez “In order to complete my Ph.d at UCSD and get tenure at SDSU, I had three full time jobs: full time mother; full time grad student; and full time professor.”

Rita Sanchez was born and brought up in San Bernardino, California, seventh of eleven children. Her parents and their parents were from New Mexico, which had been home to her family for generations. Her ancestors were, in her words, the “first mestizos,” because of intermarriage between Spanish and Indian. This history, Sanchez points out, was the beginning of her “Chicana coming-to-consciousness,” the pride in her heritage, a tradition that she has celebrated throughout her life.

Olivia Puentes Reynolds "I was making the declaration about not just being a Mexican American. I was a Chicana. It had nothing to do with what other people said, it is my declaration and it came from me."

Olivia Puentes Reynolds sits for her interview with a guitar on her knee. Hers is a story of music and mythology, her activism inspired by poetry. Reynolds’ archive of health reports and radical newsletters is peppered with songs and drawings, complete with an entire teatro frontera booklet. Throughout her life, Reynolds combined art, music, and writing to stand up for social change.