The U.S.-Mexico border is as contentious as ever. In a political cartoon published exactly a century ago on El Paso Morning Times, Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff shows three men standing in front of the border, contemplating whether or not to step into Pancho Villa territory.
Back then – in the midst of the Mexican Revolution – the neighboring countries struggled over the border (aka the Border War), as Mexican revolutionaries tried to gain control of border towns.”Hysteria grew among border American residents after officials in 1915 discovered Mexican partisans’ plans calling for a race war against whites to take back the annexed American territory,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. “Mexican guerrillas made small raids into U.S. land across the border, and Texas Rangers and vigilantes began killing Mexicans suspected of involvement.”
These days, violence and death along the border continue, as the issue of border security continues to be divisive. But the fact that we can so easily compare today’s politically charged border with 1916’s – from the perspective of Mexican and Mexican-American communities, no less – is thanks to a fairly new project from the University of Arizona.
In 2013, University of Arizona Libraries made 150 years of regionally published newspapers chronicling Mexican and Mexican-American history available online for the first time. Librarians and archivists curated, researched, and digitized the database, which includes 20 different publications. “Throughout history, Spanish-language reporting has preserved the Mexican cultural narrative in written form,” said Assistant Professor Roberto Cintli Rodriguez. And the collection is useful to “anyone interested in the Mexican cultural narrative and the Mexican voice – the fight for their land, language, and rights.”
The database covers the Gadsen Purchase, the Mexican Revolution, Mexican repatriation, the Bracero program, and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. Check out the database here.