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Finding Aid for the American GI Forum of California Papers 1960-2008
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The American GI Forum of California Collection includes correspondence, ephemera, and organizational papers documenting their activities. These materials offer researchers a lens into the often-difficult reintegration process that veterans undergo following their separation from the armed forces, as well as the overall effects of this process on their families and their communities. Researchers will find these materials useful for critical examinations of the social location of Latino servicemen and servicewomen within the context of a large metropolitan center and how this identity has evolved since 1942. Indeed, a collection of this caliber has wide application for studies on the overall condition of Latinos within the United States as well as on the lives and communities of California Latino veterans. Moreover, according to Kelly Lytle-Hernandez, professor of History at UCLA, this particular collection has much to offer scholars interested in studying local California politics, Latino veteran organizing, and gender dynamics in a traditionally male-centered context. According to her, the stories reflected in these papers act as a precursor to later Chicano organizing. Researchers who would like to indicate errors of fact or omissions in this finding aid can contact the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library and Archive.
Background
The American GI Forum was founded in 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas as a resource for Mexican American veterans returning from service in WWII and their families. The repressive socio-economic and political climate of Texas prior to WWII and the lack of social mobility and limited opportunities afforded to servicemen and women despite their service in the nation's armed forces, functioned as an impetus to create an organization that could represent and fight for veterans' rights. Although this organization was originally created to meet the needs of those veterans living in South Texas, several victories related to veterans' benefits and access to health care, motivated Mexican Americans in other parts of the nation to create their own local American GI Forum chapters. Key to this growth was the denial of funeral services in 1949 to a Mexican American soldier – Private Felix Longoria, whose remains were returned home four years after being killed in combat in the Philippines. After organizing several protests and receiving a great deal of media attention, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson intervened and arranged for PVT Longoria to be buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Extent
19 linear feet
Restrictions
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library and Archive for paging information.