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La Raza: Mexicans in the United States Census

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 September 2016

Brian Gratton
Arizona State University
Emily Klancher Merchant
Dartmouth College


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Copyright © Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2016 

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We thank Tab Lewis and Bill Creech for invaluable assistance in the National Archives and University of Houston archivists for exceptionally courteous access to the Perales papers. Patrick Lukens shared valuable primary records, and he, Margo Anderson, Jaime Aguila, and the Journal of Policy History readers provided us insightful reviews.


1. Steven Ruggles et al., Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database] (Minneapolis, 2010), (accessed 16 January 2015).

2. As George Frederickson states, “racism” requires belief in inherited “innate, indelible, and unchangeable traits. See Frederickson, George, Racism: A Short History (Princeton, 2003), 54Google Scholar. Ethnocentrism connotes cultural, not biological, differences, subject to change.

3. Francis A. Walker, “The Restriction of Immigration,” Atlantic Monthly, June 1896, 822–29. For Walker’s influence on the bureau, see folder “The Coming Census (1930),” box 147, Memoranda and Notes of Joseph H. Hill, 1905–1940, Record Group 29.4.2, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Records of the Office of the Assistant Director for Statistical Standards 1850 to 1990, Records of the Chief Statistician (hereafter Chief Statistician), National Archives, Washington, D.C. Willcox, Walter F., “The Development of the American Census Office since 1890,” Political Science Quarterly 29, no. 3 (September 1914): 438–59;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Anderson, Margo J., The American Census: A Social History, 2nd ed. (New Haven, 2015)Google Scholar, constitutes the standard source for the history of the bureau. Chapter 6, “The Tribal Twenties,” discusses Hill and other major figures. Paul Schor is attentive to Hill and to debates over racial and ethnic categories. Compter et classer: Histoire des recensements américains (Paris, 2009), 218–19, 223–26 (all translations from French and Spanish are by Brian Gratton); Schor’s “Mobilizing for Pure Prestige: Challenging Federal Census Ethnic Categories in the USA (1850–1940),” International Social Science Journal 57, no. 183 (May 2005): 89–101, provides select material in a translation from the French. Mai M. Ngai discusses Hill in Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, 2014), 30–32.

4. Most recently in “Views of European Races among the Research Staff of the US Immigration Commission and the Census Bureau, ca. 1910,” Working Paper No. 648, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College (January 2011), (accessed 13 April 2015).

5. Folder “Foreigners,” box 2, Chief Statistician. Folder “I-8 Immigration and the Census,” box 148; folder “P12 Population Country of Birth,” box 150; folder “P 12 Population Group of Foreign,” box 151; folder “P-31,” box 152, Memoranda and Notes of Joseph A. Hill 1905–1940, Chief Statistician. Folders “Director” and “Geography,” box 1, Office File of Joseph A. Hill, 1920–1940. Chief Statistician. The quotation is taken from Hill’s “Scope of the Fourteenth Census,” n.d. (c. 1920). Hill revealed his anxiety about the rise of a polyglot, urban nation in “The Census—Facts and Fancies,” dated 12 March 1921, an unsigned typescript address. Folder “Papers Written by J. A. Hill,” box 4, Miscellaneous Records of Joseph A. Hill, 1910–1940, Chief Statistician.

6. Daniel Folkmar, Dictionary of Races or Peoples (Washington, D.C., 1911), 96. Folder “Indians Not Taxed 1910,” box 148. Memoranda and Notes of Joseph A. Hill, 1905–1940, Chief Statistician.

7. For these statistics, see Gratton, Brian and Merchant, Emily Klancher, “Immigration, Repatriation, Deportation: The Mexican-Origin Population in the United States, 1920 to 1950,” International Migration Review 47, no. 4 (December 2013): 944–75;CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Gratton and Merchant, “An Immigrant’s Tale: The Mexican American Southwest, 1850 to 1950,” Social Science History 39 (2015): 521–50.

8. Goethe’s letter to Representative John N. Garner (dated 16 January 1930) was posted in U.S. Congress, House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Hearings on “Western Hemisphere Immigration,” 71st Cong., 2nd sess., 29 January 1930, 165. Congressional hearings also show that employers supporting Mexican immigration used racial arguments, pointing to Mexicans’ suitability as docile, nonthreatening, and temporary workers. Slayden, James, “Some Observations on Mexican Immigration,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 93, no. 1 (1921): 25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Mexicans suffered substantially greater violence in Texas than in other states. See Carrigan, William D. and Webb, Clive, Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848–1928 (New York, 2013)Google Scholar.

9. In re Rodríguez, 81 F. 337 (W.D. Tex. 1897). Hoover, Glenn E., “Our Mexican Immigrants,” Foreign Affairs 8, no. 1 (1929): 99107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 extended citizenship rights to indigenous persons born in the United States.

10. “Mexican Immigration,” New York Times, 13 October 1929, E4. José Vasconcelos, “Raza Pura o Raza Mezclada,” La Prensa, 13 December 1926, 3; Rodolfo Uranga, “Glosario del día,” La Prensa, 1 November 1929, 1. The core text is Vasconcelos, La raza cósmica: Misión de la raza iberoamericana (Paris, 1925).

11. Manuel Gamio, Forjando patria (1916; reprint Mexico, 1960), 98. For the “deep ties to Vasconcelos” among Mexican American leaders in the United States, see Johnson, Benjamin H., “The Cosmic Race in Texas: Racial Fusion, White Supremacy, and Civil Rights Politics,” Journal of American History 98, no. 2 (September 2011): 411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Gamio’s racial ideology remains subject to debate. In “Race, Revolution, and Indígenismo,” Alan Knight concludes that most Mexican intellectuals, including Gamio, believed to some degree in innate, biologically determined racial characteristics; The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940, ed. Richard Graham (Austin, 1990), 71–113. Compare Walsh, Casey, “Eugenic Acculturation: Manuel Gamio, Migration Studies, and the Anthropology of Development in Mexico, 1910–1940,” Latin American Perspectives 31, no. 5 (September 2004): 118–45;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Pablo Yankelevich, ¿Deseables o inconvenientes? Las fronteras de la extranjería en el México posrevolucionario (Mexico City, 2011), David Fitzgerald and David Cook-Martin, Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (Cambridge, Mass.), 218–19, 233–48; and for the strongest racial view, Stern, Alexandra, “Mestizofilia, biotipología y eugenesia en el México posrevolucionario: Hacia una historia de la ciencia y el estado, 1920–1960,” Relaciones 21, no. 81 (1999): 5991.Google Scholar Mara Loveman’s recent treatment comes down on both sides of the fence. National Colors: Racial Classification and the State in Latin America (New York, 2014), 217–20.

12. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1930, vol. II: Population 1930: General Report, Statistics by Subjects (Washington, D.C., 1933), 27. For enumerator instructions, see Ruggles et al., Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, (accessed 21 April 2015).

13. U.S. Immigration Commission member W. W. Husband recommended a two-generation race question for Europeans in 1909 testimony before the Senate, on the grounds that the third generation would assimilate. Joel Perlmann, “Race or People: Federal Race Classifications for Europeans in America, 1898–1913,” Levy Economics Institute Working Paper, no. 320, January 2001.

14. Hochschild, Jennifer L. and Powell, Brenna Marea, “Racial Reorganization and the United States Census, 1850–1930: “Mulattoes, Half-breeds, Mixed Parentage, Hindoos, and the Mexican Race,” Studies in American Political Development 22, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 5996 (81)Google Scholar. An example of the common use of its conclusions is Cybelle Fox and Guglielmo, Thomas A., “Blacks, Mexicans, and European Immigrants, 1890–1945, American Journal of Sociology 118, no. 2 (September 2012): 353.Google Scholar Reisler, Mark, By the Sweat of Their Brow: Mexican Immigrant Labor in the United States, 1900–1940 (Westport, Conn., 1976), 137.Google Scholar Anderson, The American Census, 156. Congressional demands might influence the bureau, but staff successfully resisted those they thought unreasonable. See the comments of the Chairman of the House Committee on the Census, the Hon. Hart Fenn, J., in “Provisions of the Census Bill,” Congressional Digest 8, no. 2 (February 1929): 4564,Google Scholar and copious archival evidence in the records of the Census Advisory Committee. See, for example, folder “Minutes Joint Advisory Committee October 18 1929,” Minutes of Meetings Correspondence and Reports April 16 and 17, 1926, to October 1932. Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29.3.2, Entry 148, Administrative Records of the Bureau of the Census, Records of the Census Advisory Committee (hereafter Census Advisory Committee). See as well, U.S. Congress, “Western Hemisphere Immigration,” 18–19 April 1930, and folders “67102,” “67102 (Part 3),” “67102/8” Fifteenth Census of Population,” and folder “75303/26–75315/29,” box 141. Record Group 40.2, General Records of the Department of Commerce, Office of the Secretary General, General Correspondence, 1903–50 (hereafter Commerce), National Archives, College Park, Md.

15. On stationery of the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Census Bureau, dated 5 February 1926. Folder “Secretary’s Saturday Morning Conferences 1922–1927.” Correspondence of Joseph A. Hill, 1911–32 S-Z. Chief Statistician.

16. On the Committee’s history, see “Fiftieth Anniversary of Census Advisory Committee,” American Statistician 23, no. 4 (October 1969): 20–22. Diana Lynn Magnuson reviews the committee’s work in “The Making of a Modern Census: The United States Census Population, 1790–1940” (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1995). Folder “Advisory Committee, 14 and 15 December 1928,” “List of Topics to be Taken up with the Advisory Committee (preliminary),” Minutes of Meetings Correspondence and Reports 16 and 17 April 1926, to October 1932, Census Advisory Committee.

17. “Minutes of . . . April 21, 1934.” Folder “ACMeeting, April 21, 1934,” box Census Advisory Committee . . . 17–18 March 1933 to 13–14 November 1936, Census Advisory Committee.

18. Lamont’s text copies a memorandum sent him by E. Dana Durand on 2 November 1929. (Durand, director of the 1910 census, served in a variety of statistical positions in the Department of Commerce). Folder “Minutes . . . JAC October 18 1929,” “Minutes of Meetings Correspondence and Reports April 16 and 17, 1926 to October 1932,” Census Advisory Committee.

19. John M. Nieto-Phillips, The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s–1930s (Albuquerque, 2004); Brian Gratton, Emily Merchant, and Myron Gutmann, “Race and Deportation: Mexicans in the 1930 and 1940 Censuses,” paper delivered at meeting of the Science History Association, October 2008.

20. “Cutting Works for Box Bill,” La Estrella (Las Cruces, N.M.), 4 May 1929, 2.

21. ¿Mexicanos o Americanos que somos?,” from El Nuevo Mexicano, reprinted in La Estrella, 1 March 1930, 1, and 29 March 1930, and “En Cuanto al Censo,” reprinted in La Estrella, 5 April 1930, 1. “Hay que estar bien de acuerdo con los enumeradores,” El Defensor del Pueblo, 14 March 1930, 2. In contrast to his New Mexican colleagues, Rodolfo Uranga advised readers to report that they were Mexicans. “Glosario del día,” La Prensa, 1 November 1929, 1.

22. La Prensa reported census results on 5 August 1931 (“La población Mexicana de E. Unidos aumento ciento por ciento en diez años,” 1), describing the Mexican race classification without comment, as did El Tucsonense on 6 August 1931 (“Cuantos Mexicanos hay en los Estados Unidos según el censo federal,” 1). F. Arturo Rosales, “Shifting Self Perceptions and Ethnic Consciousness among Mexicans in Houston 1930–1946,” Aztlan 16, no. 1–2 (1985): 82–84. Beginning in 1930, the Mexican census replaced racial categories with language inquiries. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, (accessed 23 March 2014).

23. Perales’s papers make clear his critical role in LULAC: Alonso S. Perales Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries (hereafter Perales Papers). Partial accounts of this transformative, controversial, and complex figure can be found In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals, ed. Michael A. Olivas (Houston, 2012); Cynthia Orozco, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement (Austin, 2009); and Perales’s En Defensa de mi Raza (San Antonio, 1936–37), in two volumes, or “Tomos.” Family records in folder 1, box 1, Perales Papers. For Congressional testimony, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Hearings on “Western Hemisphere Immigration,” 71st Cong., 2nd sess., 29 January 1930, 169–70, 179–89 (Canales as “J.C. Canales”). Perales and others commonly noted the dual origins of mestizaje (see draft of an article dated October 1924, folder 12, box 8, Perales Papers); reference to a bronze race draws on Valconcelos’s phrase la raza de bronce.

24. “El censo que se levantara el mes de abril próximo dará a los mexicanos una clasificación separada,” La Prensa, 19 March 1930, 1. Under various titles, the piece was published widely: El Defensor (Edinburg, Tex.), 28 March 1930, 1; El Heraldo Mexicano (San Antonio), 30 March 1930, 1; El Tucsonense, 22 March 1930, 2. Perales’s census piece followed on the heels of articles praising his defense of persons of Mexican origin in congressional hearings. See, for example, “El Lic Perales defiende enérgicamente a los mexicanos,” El Defensor, 7 February 1930, 1. Schor cites a letter from Hill to Perales asking that he carry out publicity for the census, following a recommendation from Paul S. Taylor. See Schor, Compter et Classer, 254 and n. 36.

25. His ally and close friend, H. (Hector) T. Manuel, did warn Perales in 1931 of potential consequences. Manuel to Perales, 30 June 1931, folder 6, box 2, Perales Papers.

26. Perales to Cleofas Calleros, 10 October 1936, folder 41, box 4, Perales Papers. Perales sent similarly worded letters to John W. Brown, Texas State Health Officer and to C. K. Quin, mayor of San Antonio, on 28 November 1936: folders 9 and 32, box 4, Perales Papers. Villar made the attack in the newspaper Mexico en el Valle, published in Mission, Tex. Folder 24, box 1, Perales Papers; Perales’s reaction can be seen in a letter to La Prensa publisher Federico Allen Hinojosa, 23 October 1927, folder 9, box 4, Perales Papers.

27. Neil Foley, “Becoming Hispanic: Mexican Americans and the Faustian Pact with Whiteness,” Reflexiones 1997, ed. Neil Foley (Austin, 1998), 53–70. For a forthright critique of Foley’s position, see Johnson, “The Cosmic Race.” Allred’s opinion cited the seminal case In re Rodríguez. Perales to David Casas, 34 April 1941, folder 25, box 1, Perales Papers. The terminology found its way into the 1943 Texas legislature’s resolution asserting that “all persons of the Caucasian Race” had equal rights. Guglielmo, Thomas A., “Fighting for Caucasian Rights,” Journal of American History 92, no. 4 (March 2006): 1212–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28. Machado to Perales, 27 March 1928. Folder 29, box 4, Perales Papers.

29. “La inutilidad de los consolados de facción,” El Heraldo de México, 27 January 1921, 4. “Página Editorial,” Gráfico, 2 October 1927, 10. “Los mexicanos en Indiana Harbor se encuentran disgustados,” La Prensa, 14 August 1925, 12; “El Embajador Morrow enviara la protesta de los niños mexicanos a Washington,” 16 May 1929, La Prensa (New York City), 1; “Miami odiosa distinción a nuestros compatriotas,” La Prensa, 18 October 1929, 6. “Lockhart, Tex. Una protesta por el maltrato a los mexicanos,” La Prensa, 14 March 1932, 8; “Galveston, Tex. Se exhiben películas mexicanas,” La Prensa, 15 September 1935, 16; “La Protesta Presentada a Morrow,” La Prensa, 20 May 1929, 1; “Se insiste en que no se ha hecho separación . . . ,” La Prensa, 24 May 1929, 2; “Protesta de la Unión Hispano Americana,” La Prensa, 26 June 1939, 2. These remarks appeared side by side with protests against racial discrimination against those of Mexican origin. A graceful attempt to bridge this gap is “Las clasificaciones raciales,” La Prensa, 15 October 1936, 3. It is noteworthy that newspapers reported hostility to razas de color in Mexico itself, as in that country’s immigration policy: “No se permitirá la inmigración de los negros . . . ,” El Heraldo de México (Los Angeles), 9 February 1923, 3; “Restricción para que vayan Sírios, Turcos y Arabes a Méx.,” El Heraldo de México, 26 July 1927, 4; “En Queretaro y San Luís Potosí ya no quieren más chinos,” El Heraldo de México, 15 January 1927, 1; and “No vendrá más inmigración mexicana a este país,” El Tucsonense, 13 January 1921, 3.

30. Anderson, The American Census, 180. Jan van der Tak, Demographic Destinies: Interviews with Presidents and Secretary-Treasurers of the Population Association of America (Population Association of America, 1991), quotation, 34.

31. Whelpton, Pascal, “Population of the United States 1925 to 1975,” American Journal of Sociology 34 (1928): 253–70Google Scholar. Locales, such as San Antonio, that reported Mexicans separately provided the first clues to differences. During the 1920s, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department published rates by “nationality” with Mexicans as a separate category with high rates of infant mortality and tuberculosis. See Molina, Natalia, Fit to be Citizens: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879–1939 (Berkeley, 2006), chap. 3, esp. 92Google Scholar. Most public health literature emphasized socioeconomic rather than racial reasons for differences in mortality rates. Compare Goldberg, Benjamin, “Tuberculosis in Racial Types with Special Reference to Mexicans,” American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 19, no. 3 (March 1929): 274–84;CrossRefGoogle Scholar to Godias J. Drolet, “Discussion,” ibid., 285–86; “Significance of Infant Mortality Data in Appraisal of an Urban Community,” by A. D. H. Kaplan, American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 2, no. 10 (October 1932): 1037–49; and n.a., “Child Hygiene,” American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 22, no. 2 (February 1932): 214–17. Despite such evidence, the secondary literature asserts that racial views dominated. See Molina, Fit to be Citizens, and Emily K. Abel, Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion: A History of Public Health and Migration to Los Angeles (New Brunswick, 2008), 68. The 1930 census category promised the first separate data for the national population. Ellis, Mark, “What Future for Whites? Population Projections and Racialised Imaginaries in the U.S,” International Journal of Population Geography 7 (2001): 213–29 (219)Google Scholar. Thompson, Warren S., “The Field of Demography,” American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 26, no. 5 (May 1936): 499501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

32. Edward J. Noble, Under Secretary, Department of Commerce, concluded in 1939 that “no objection was made to [racial classification] in the 1930s Census reports, either at the time these reports were issued, or for several years thereafter.” Noble to Secretary of State [Cordell Hull], 14 September 1939. Folder “67104–67104 (Part 1A),” box 141, Commerce. United States, President’s Research Committee on Social Trends, Recent Social Trends in the United States (New York, 1933).

33. Folder “Vital Statistics Division,” box 1, and T. T. Murphy, Chief Statistician for Vital Statistics, to Hill, folder “Vital Statistics Division,” box 3, Office File of Joseph A. Hill, 1920–1940, Chief Statistician. Vital Statistics of the United States 1939, Part 1. Prepared by Halbert L. Dunn, Chief Statistician for Vital Statistics (Washington, D.C., 1941), 2. For inaccuracy of recording, see U.S. Department of Commerce, Mortality Statistics 1931 (Washington, D.C., 1935), 9.

34. “Minutes of . . . April 21, 1934,” folder “AC Meeting April 21, 1934,” “Census Advisory Committee . . . March 17 and 18 1933 to November 13 and 14 1936,” Census Advisory Committee. See Schor’s similar treatment of this document and additional communication between Hill and the vital statistics division, especially regarding difficulties in New Mexico, Compter et Classer, 255–66 n. 40.

35. Dunn, Halbert L., “Development of Vital Statistics in the Bureau of the Census,” American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health 25, no. 12 (December 1935): 1321–26Google Scholar. Federal Security Agency, U.S. Public Health Service, National Office of Vital Statistics, United States Life Tables and Actuarial Tables 1939–1941 (Washington, D.C., 1947), by Thomas N. E. Greville but under Dunn’s supervision, 104. For Dunn’s influence, see “Halbert L. Dunn,” in the official bureau history page, (accessed 21 April 2015). Folder “V-2 Vital Statistics Coding,” box 159, Memoranda and Notes of Joseph A. Hill, 1905–35, Chief Statistician.

36. Cutting’s biographer shows that the senator’s sympathies, as well as the votes necessary to his success, lay in the Hispanic population. Richard Lowitt, Bronson M. Cutting: Progressive Politician (Albuquerque, 1992), 171–72, 213, and 323.

37. Folder “Field, 1934–1935,” box 6, Record Group 29.3.1, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Administrative Records of the Bureau of the Census 1860–1990, Records of the Office of the Director, General Records Maintained by William Lane Austin, 1922–41 (hereafter Austin), National Archives, Washington, D.C.

38. Austin to Cutting, 21 February 1935. Folder “Field, 1934–1935,” box 6, Austin.

39. Schor, Compter et Classer, 253–54. Such a defense had to maintain that Mexicans were not persons of color, who, under Texas and other state laws, could be or had to be segregated from whites. On this characteristically LULAC strategy, see Benjamin Marquez, LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization (Austin, 1993), 32–33, and Craig Allen Kaplowitz, LULAC, Mexican Americans and National Policy (College Station, Tex., 2005). García, Mario, “Mexican Americans and the Politics of Citizenship: The Case of El Paso, 1936,” New Mexico Historical Review 59, no. 2 (1 April 1984): 187204.Google Scholar

40. “El Paso Baby Death Figure Found Highest,” El Paso Herald-Post, 4 June 1935, 1. “Indigent Cases Increase Death,” El Paso Herald-Post, 18 July 1935, 3. “Birth Record Changed,” El Paso Herald-Post, 5 October 1936, 2. Reaction was immediate, as can be seen in “C.C. Protests Death Record System,” El Paso Herald-Post, 7 October 1936, 1–2, revealing a diverse set of complainants, including the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. The dismay over extremely high rates of infant mortality in poor sections of the city is visible well before the controversy: “E.P. Health Officer Will Advocate . . . to decrease death rate,” El Paso Herald Post, 26 July 1933, 1; and “Multiplying Our Death Rates,” El Paso Herald-Post, 28 July 1933, 4. Staff accounts stressed poverty and excessive birth rates as the causes, both considerably higher in the Mexican-origin population of the city. McCamant repeatedly insisted that better housing, wages, and living conditions for Mexicans were needed to reduce high death rates. “Las protestas se llevarán hasta la C. de Washington,” El Continental (El Paso), 8 October 1936, 1. See also “El mexicano es raza de ‘color,’” El Continental, 6 October 1936, 1.

41. Folder 10, box 4, Perales Papers. Galvan, “A Fair, True, and Unbiased Explanation of the Colored Classification,” LULAC News 3, no. 8 (December 1936): 8–9, and see, in the same issue, Cleofas Calleros, “Facts about the ‘Colored’ Classification,” 9–10.

42. Quin, folder 32, box 4, Perales Papers. F. I. Montemayor, 12 October 1936, to Perales from Ladies Council No. 15 of LULAC (Laredo, Tex.), box 2, folder 7, Perales Papers. Garza to Chávez, 29 October 1936, folder 48, box 1, Series I: Correspondence. General Materials, 1923–1963. General Correspondence, 1934–1936, Dennis Chávez Papers, Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico (hereafter Chávez Papers). La Prensa published numerous articles on the controversy in October and November 1936; Chávez’s instrumental role can be seen in El Continental, 13 and 18 October 1936 (“Enérgica Queja del Senador Chávez . . . ,” 1, and “Se da fin al asunta de la clasificación . . . ,” 1); “Protesta de un Senador por Nuevo México,” La Prensa, 17 October 1936, 1.

43. Folder “67103 (part 2),” box 141, Commerce. Although on leave, Roper wired Chávez on 14 October, assuring him that an investigation was under way. This folder contains the correspondence linked to Draper’s and Roper’s hurried telegrams of apology.

44. Folder “67103 (part 2),” box 141, Commerce. See Perales’s use of this telegram in La Prensa, 26 November 1936: Alonso S. Perales, “La clasificación de los mexicanos como blancos,” 2. For additional evidence of Maverick’s attention to the Mexican American constituency (and his uneven relationship with Perales), see folder 9, box 1, and folder 1, box 5, Perales Papers. “El representante Maverick, agasado,” La Prensa, 18 December 1936, 1, and “Hoy tendrá lugar el banquete al representante Maverick,” 21 December 1936, 2. See Cynthia E. Orozco, “In Defense of My People: Alonso Perales and the Moral Construction of Citizenship,” in Michael A. Olivas, ed., In Defense of My People. Perales described Garner as “a very good friend of our people.” Perales to Roberto E. Austin, 15 March 1932, folder 9, box 4, Perales Papers.

45. Maverick to Austin, 15 October 1936. folder 23, box 1, Perales Papers. Austin replied to Maverick on 26 October, blaming local officials for racial categorization. Maverick made sure that Perales had copies of this correspondence. Maverick to Perales, 19 October 1936. Austin to Maverick, 28 October 1936. Folder 1, box 5. Quin to Perales, 2 December 1936. Folder 32, box 4, Perales Papers.

46. “Nueva protesta por el caso de McCamant,” El Continental, 1 November 1936, 2; “La clasificación de mexicanos,” La Prensa, 20 October 1936, 1. “Gestiones de la Embajada Mexicana en el caso de la clasificación,” La Prensa, 2 December 1936, 1, the last referring to a subsequent controversy over Social Security forms. Perales, En defense de mi raza, Tomo 2, 39.

47. Perales to Brown, 28 November 1936, folder 9, box 4. Perales to Quin, folder 32, box 4, Perales Papers. Quin replied that the Health Department had never “classified our Mexican people as colored.” The principal leader in the El Paso protest, Cleofas Calleros, was instrumental to Perales’s conversion. folder 41, box 4, Perales Papers. See also En Defense, Tomo 2, 41, without date, under the title “Mas Gestiones en pro de los mexicanos . . . El Represente Maverick Propone el Medio de evitar nuevos incidentes” (The article appeared in La Prensa, 21 October 1936, 1). Perales’s draft dated 22 January 1938 of a letter to Señorita Estelle Ripley Hudson. Folder 7, box 5, Perales Papers. For a forthright assertion of his newly minted convictions, see Perales’s letter to “The White Man’s Union Association,” of Wharton, Tex., 5 July 1937, Tomo 2, 93–94.

48. Schor cites Director of the Census to Dr. Halbert L. Dunn and a similarly emphatic message from Austin on 3 December 1936. Compter et Classer, 257.

49. Schor, Compter et Classer, 258, 338.

50. Lukens, Patrick D., A Quiet Victory for Latino Rights: FDR and the Controversy Over “Whiteness” (Tucson, 2012), 162–63Google Scholar. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez also mentions Dunn’s position in “Good Neighbors and White Mexicans: Constructing Race and Nation on the Mexico-U.S. Border,” Journal of American Ethnic History 33, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 25–26.

51. The unsigned memorandum appears to be the work of Truesdell. Folder “Population, 1940,” box 6, Austin.

52. Folder “Census Advisory Committee 6/16/39,” “Census Advisory Committee . . . March 17 and 18 1933 to November 13 and 14 1936 [sic],” Census Advisory Committee. See Magnuson, “Making of a Modern Census,” for a general discussion (101–5); and Schor, Compter et Classer (256, 260), for a variant of the board’s recommendation.

53. Noble to Secretary of State [Cordell Hull], 14 September 1939. Folder “67104–67104 (Part 1A),” box 141, Commerce.

54. Secretary of State Henry Louis Stimson saw immigration restriction as serving only to “anger” Mexico and other Latin American nations. See [Stimson] to Lamont, 15 February 1930. Folder “75303/26–75315/29,” box 141, Commerce. In chaps. 3 and 4 of A Quiet Victory, Lukens demonstrates the State Department’s early opposition to restriction and the pro-Mexican orientation of Assistant and Under Secretary of State Sumner Wells and other State Department officials. His key argument for linkage to the race variable in the Andrade case is presented on pages 143–44; see, generally, chaps. 7 and 8. For the confusion of race and nationality in naturalization regulations, see the series by Smith, Marian L., “Race, Nationality, and Reality,” Prologue Magazine 34, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 91105.Google Scholar

55. Folder “Advisory Committee Meeting June 16, 17, 18 1939,” Minutes of Meetings Correspondence and Reports 17–18 March 1933 to 13–14 November 1936, Census Advisory Committee.

56. After Secretary Hopkins fell seriously ill, Thorp claimed he became the unofficial director of the department. Oral History Interview with Willard L. Thorp, Amherst, Mass., 10 July 1971, by Richard D. McKinzie and Theodore A. Wilson. Harry S. Truman Library, (accessed 21 April 2015). Lukens, A Quiet Victory, 166–67; initial and subsequent quotations from Noble are in folder 67104–67104 (Part 1A), box 141, Commerce.

57. Folder “M,” box 3, Index to correspondence 1935–38 of the Statistical Research Division, Chief Statistician.

58. Lukens, A Small Victory, 167–68, citing Race Classification in the 1940 U.S. Census. File III-411–35. Archivo Histórico de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico City. Professor Lukens has courteously provided us with copies of these archival documents.

59. Patiño’s undated memorandum stated that his office received Daniels’s request on 22 November, after the decision was made. Lukens concludes that the Mexican experts did not fully support the idea of a separate classification, a view with which we disagree. See Lukens, A Small Victory, 168–69. Gamio had, by this time, become insistent that cultural markers be used to distinguish between indigenous, mestizo, and European groups. Loveman, National Colors, 236–37. His memorandum indicated this preference; since it could not be carried out in the United States, a racial category would be better than no distinction.

60. Folder “67104–67104 (Part 1A),” box 141, Commerce.

61. Lukens argues reasonably that its role in the Andrade case implies that the Mexican government would have rejected a racial category. Guglielmo shows that that government lobbied strenuously for antidiscrimination and “Caucasian” rights bills in Texas in the early 1940s. See “Fighting for Caucasian Rights.”

62. “Los Mexicanos Incluidos en la Raza Blanca . . . ,” La Prensa, 11 February 1940, 1. “En la clasificación racial del censo . . . ,” La Prensa, 13 February 1940, 1. “La Última Barrera,” La Prensa, 19 February 1940, 3. Hopkins asserted that the 1930 classification had been the result of the desire of health officials for a special study of persons of Mexican origin. Overmyer-Velázquez, “Constructing Race,” finds evidence in U.S. government archives of active public protest (and support) of a separate category.

63. Folder “Census Advisory Committee, Jan. 5 and 6, 1940,” Minutes of Meetings Correspondence and Reports 18–18 March 1933 to 13–14 November 1936, Census Advisory Committee. Schor notes this document (259–60) but does not treat closely the attempt to reinstate the category.

64. “Statistics and Politics: The ‘Hispanic Issue’ in the 1980 Census,” Demography 23, no. 3 (August 1986): 403–18 (406). Benjamin Francis-Fallon covers this political history more sympathetically in “Minority Reports: The Emergence of Pan-Hispanic Politics” (Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 2012). His account demonstrates the advocacy among certain Mexican American leaders of a racial category. See chaps. 5 and 10. For a fuller account of the attempt of minority groups to increase their counts in the census, see Peter Skerry, Counting on the Census? Race, Group Identity, and the Evasion of Politics (Washington, D.C., 2000).

65. As David Hollinger remarks, a “race equivalent.” PostEthnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (New York, 1995), 29. See Francis-Fallon, “Minority Reports,” 340.

66. Robbin, A., “Classifying racial and ethnic group data: The politics of negotiation and accommodation,” Journal of Government Information 27, no. 2: 129–56.Google Scholar Anderson discusses these lobbies in The American Census, chap. 10, “Census Undercount and the Politics of Counting,” esp. 230–33.

67. Douglas Weeks, O., “The Texas-Mexican and Politics of South Texas,” American Political Science Review 24, no. 3 (August 1930): 606–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Rosales’s “Shifting Self Perceptions” most eloquently describes the shift of perspectives between the generations.

68. Mark Ellis, “What Future for Whites?” 216; Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York, 1994).

69. Clara Rodríguez, Changing Race: Latinos, the Census, and the History of Ethnicity (New York, 2000). For results in the 2010 census, see (accessed 21 April 2015). For the new, combined variable, see (accessed 21 April 2015). Kenneth Prewitt discusses this potential variable in What Is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans (Princeton, 2013), 174–76, 201–7.

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