Whither Tejano History: Origins, Development,
ARNOLDO DE LE6N*
WHAT IS TEJANO HISTORY? THREE DECADES AGO, NO ONE WOULD
have recognized the term, yet today most every historian in the
state of Texas can offer at least some elementary definition of the con-
cept. Simply put, "Tejano history" is the study of Mexican Americans in
the Lone Star State, and constitutes part of overall Texas history as do
African American and women's history. However, the sub-field of
Tejano history also fits under the wider purview of "Chicano history," for
its origins lie there, and it is the latter that has influenced it more than
has mainstream Texas historiography.
Students of Chicano history continue to see the history of Mexican-
descent people through lenses originally introduced during the 1970s,
when the first generation of Mexican American researchers conceptual-
ized it. Certainly the study of Chicano history has undergone change
over the last decades. It has borrowed research tools from disciplines
outside history, produced innovative ways of searching for the truth, and
expanded its ranks by recruiting both Mexican-descent scholars-men
and women-too young to have been a part of its beginnings and a
growing circle of Anglo American writers. Nonetheless, such features as
its early premises, periodization, and the topics chosen for study still
reflect links to its initial foundations and remain as distinguishable fea-
tures of the field.'
Tejano history, as an academic discipline, is so well-accepted today by
mainstream Texas scholarship that no textbook, collection of essays, or
*Arnoldo De Le6n is the C. J. "Red" Davidson Professor of History at Angelo State University.
He is the author of numerous works on Tejanos and is currently on the board of the Texas
Council for the Humanities. The author wishes to give special thanks to the several scholars who
read early drafts of this article, but most especially to Roberto R. Trevifio (University of Texas at
Arlington) and Manuel G. Gonzales (Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, California).
' Manuel G. Gonzales and Cynthia M. Gonzales (eds.), En Aquel Entonces" Readings in Mexican-
Amencan History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), xi, xlii-xv, Refugio I. Rochin
and Dennis N. Valdes (eds.), Voices of a New Chscana/o Hstory (East Lansing: Michigan State
University Press, 2000), 1-22.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed December 20, 2013.