Educated Citizens: Mexican Americans and the Making of Arizona, 1870-1940
Laura K. Muñoz

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Primary Discipline

This book project examines the educational history of Mexican Americans in Arizona during its territorial and statehood eras. I argue that Mexican-descent people actively negotiated a space for themselves in Arizona society through the public schools. As frontier settlers, they utilized a philosophy of “civic integration” to claim U.S. citizenship and to preserve their cultural heritage. Employing a borderlands aesthetic, they pursued bilingual, bicultural educations for their children, so that they could succeed in American society, beyond the simpler scope of Americanization and industrial workforce programs advocated by public school officials. Arizona Mexicans imagined that their children would become vital, active contributors to the territory and, later, the state. Building upon Arizona and Chicana/o educational histories as well as new archival evidence, I validate how Mexican American youth and their parents engaged educational participation. I focus on episodes in towns and cities north of Tucson, in places such as Phoenix and St. Johns, in order to broaden the class-based analysis of the Tucson Mexican experience into a statewide history of community initiative and individual pursuit. The study features portraits of communities, families, and individuals, such as the Romo family who filed the earliest-known Mexican American school desegregation lawsuit in 1925. The study investigates public action across a spectrum from the establishment of community schools, to debates over curriculum, to normal school education, and the recruitment of Mexican American teachers. “Educated Citizens” recuperates Arizona Mexican history and allows us to reconsider the region from the perspective of a people thought to be absent from the history of public education prior to 1940.
About Laura K. Muñoz

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