Latinos have fought in every U.S. conflict, but an accurate number of how many served is still unknown.
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez founded the Voces Oral History Project. For the past two decades, Voces has explored the stories of Mexican-Americans who defended the U.S., both overseas and on the home front, filling the gaps in this piece of American history.
Founded in 1999, the Voces project initially focused on WWII veterans, but has since expanded to include the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and Political and Civic Engagement. More than 1,200 interviews and 10,000 photographs comprise the multiple collections and is now one of the biggest oral history archives about U.S. Latinos and Latinas.
Rivas-Rodriguez, a professor of journalism at UT Austin, drew upon several sources when formulating the project, including the Shoah Foundation’s interviews with Holocaust survivors. The Voces collections have assisted the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the StoryCorps Historias collection, numerous PBS documentarians, and have contributed to academic publications.
Rivas-Rodriguez says as Voces enters its 20th year, the project will continue to add collections to fill the gaps in the history of Latinos in America.
Voces enters its 20th year, and an upcoming event will pay a special tribute to filmmaker Aida Barrera and her contributions to bilingual education and cultural heritage.