Fort Worth

Oral histories of Fort Worth’s Hispanic communities sought

Folklorico dancers, shown here at this year’s Stock Show and Rodeo, have long been a part of Fort Worth’s Hispanic heritage.
Folklorico dancers, shown here at this year’s Stock Show and Rodeo, have long been a part of Fort Worth’s Hispanic heritage. Star-Telegram archives

The book Stories from the Barrio: A History of Mexican Fort Worth details how economic opportunities helped Hispanics create their own neighborhoods.

Author Carlos Cuellar describes how families formed small barrios throughout Fort Worth. There was El TP, formed by Mexicans who worked for the Texas & Pacific Railroad and who lived near the intersection of Vickery Boulevard and Montgomery Street. Workers who labored in downtown hotels, restaurants and coffee shops settled near the courthouse in an area called La Corte.

Finding Fort Worth Hispanics who remember these neighborhoods is part of the oral history project called ¡Viva Mi Historia! that is underway during Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Tuesday through Oct. 15.

“The Latino community makes up a big percentage of our population in Fort Worth, and it is important to know their history,” said Linda Barrett, senior librarian and archivist at the Fort Worth Library. “It is a significant portion of Fort Worth history.”

Earlier this year, the city’s Human Relations Commission received a Latino Americans: 500 Years of History $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

The money will help showcase films and exhibits that center on Hispanic issues and will be featured at various Fort Worth venues throughout the year. The grant is also being used in the oral history project to help identify documents, photos and artifacts that can become a Latino American Archives at the Fort Worth Library.

“Latino Americans are the country’s largest minority group, with more than 50 million people, and still many people are unaware of their rich and varied history and culture,” said Damon Blakeley, chairman of the Human Relations Commission. “…Understanding the history and culture of the diversity that exists in our city helps us to be a richer, stronger, more cohesive community.”

In a separate project, TCU students are already collecting oral histories for the Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project. The project is a collaboration among TCU, the University of Texas at Arlington and University of North Texas that involves gathering oral histories of Mexican-Americans, African-Americans and white activists during the civil-rights era in Texas.

“Oral history is a very important way we can broaden the historical source base by bringing in memories of another group of people,” said Max Krochmal, director of the Civil Rights in Black and Brown Oral History Project.

¡Viva Mi Historia! The Story of Fort Worth

▪ Historians want to interview people with knowledge or history of the Latino community in Fort Worth. Interviews will cover stories of family, migration, identity, culture, labor, religion and activism.

▪ People can share their oral histories during two collection days taking place during community fairs. Organizers ask that potential participants schedule an appointment at one of the upcoming collection days.

▪ To learn more about participating in the oral history project and the creation of a Latino American Archives at the Fort Worth Library, call 817-392-8434 or email Linda Tuggle at linda.tuggle@fortworthtexas.gov.

Oral history collection days

10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Sept. 26. at the Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, 818 Missouri Ave., Fort Worth.

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 17, tentatively scheduled at North Side High School, 2211 Mckinley Ave. Contact 817-392-8434 for an update.

Latino Americans in Fort Worth

A series of planned programs are taking place in upcoming days to promote Hispanic history. All events are free. Coming soon:

Film screenings

Rose Marine Theater, 1440 M. Main St., Fort Worth

3-5 p.m. Sept. 27

War and Peace and Prejudice and Pride

3-5 p.m. Oct. 4

The New Latinos and Peril and Promise

Art exhibit

Noon-6 p.m., Oct. 3 through Nov. 7

Rose Marine Theater, 1440 M. Main St., Fort Worth

El Dia De Los Muertos: The Life of the Dead in Mexican Folk Art - an exhibit from the Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

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