Houston Post, focusing on EITHER the 1900-1909 period OR the 1920-1929 period; Breckenridge Daily American, focusing on EITHER the 1920-1929 period OR the 1930-1939 period

PAPER TWO ASSIGNMENT Due in class on November 20

OVERVIEW: As John Weber shows in his book From South Texas to the Nation, Mexican and Mexican- American labor became increasingly important in Texas and the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. For this assignment, you will investigate how Texas newspapers portrayed ethnic Mexicans during those years and then use Weber’s book to explain WHY the newspapers portrayed them that way. To make that manageable (and hopefully enjoyable), you will pick one of the following newspapers:

• Houston Post, focusing on EITHER the 1900-1909 period OR the 1920-1929 period.

• Breckenridge Daily American, focusing on EITHER the 1920-1929 period OR the 1930-1939 period.

Once you have selected your newspaper and decade, your goal will be to write a five-page paper that takes a clear position on the following: How did [YOUR NEWSPAPER] portray ethnic Mexicans during [YOUR DECADE], and why did the newspaper portray them in those ways? LET’S GET SPECIFIC: First, read the book: In order to understand what you’ll encounter in the newspapers, you’ll need to read Weber’s book, which explains the evolution of South Texas and the circumstances that surrounded Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Texas during the first half of the twentieth century. Once you’re familiar with that, you’ll be ready to evaluate how and why Texas newspapers described ethnic Mexicans in the particular ways that they did. Second, pick a newspaper: To make your research manageable, you should pick one of the two available newspapers and one of the decades available for that newspaper: the Houston Post (covering the 1900-1909 period, or the 1920-1929 period) or the Breckenridge Daily American (covering the 1920-1929 period, or the 1930-39 period).

• Please note, the Houston Post also covered the 1910-1919 period, but discussions of the Mexican Revolution dominated the newspaper’s coverage of ethnic Mexicans during those years, so we are excluding that decade in order to make your task more manageable.

Third, investigate your newspaper: Building on the awesome skills you developed with the first paper, you’ll dive into your newspaper (available on the Portal to Texas History) and investigate how that newspaper described ethnic Mexicans (that is, Mexican nationals and/or Mexican-Americans).


Fourth, use Weber’s book to contextualize the newspapers: Once you figure out how your newspaper described ethnic Mexicans, you will then use Weber’s book to explain what was going on in Texas during that time period that would prompt the newspaper to portray ethnic Mexicans in those ways. In other words, you’ll use From South Texas to the Nation to help explain WHY, exactly, the newspaper would talk about Mexicans and Mexican- Americans in particular ways. PLEASE NOTE:

• This is DIFFERENT than the first paper: you are not deciding if the newspapers match the book. You are instead figuring out what your newspaper said about ethnic Mexicans and then using the book to explain why, exactly, it described ethnic Mexicans in those ways.

• Your argument has to be built on evidence from your newspaper, which you will then contextualize using Weber’s book.

• You will need to find at least five newspaper articles in order to make your case, although we highly recommend finding more (the more evidence you have, the stronger your case can be).

• Your paper must have a clear thesis statement made at the end of your introduction paragraph. Here is an example of what your thesis statement for this paper might look like:

o “During the [YOUR DECADE], [NAME OF YOUR NEWSPAPER] described ethnic Mexicans as [summary of what you found in the newspaper] because [your argument, using Weber’s book, as to why your newspaper portrayed them in these ways].”

• If you have any questions about what a thesis statement is, please see Kylie or myself as soon as possible.

• You are HIGHLY encouraged to write rough drafts and have Kylie or myself read them in advance. This is the best way to revise toward a strong paper, but requires that you work ahead of time so we’ll have time to read drafts and give you advanced feedback.

GRADING: Once again, you will not be graded on the “correctness” of your answer. Rather, you will be graded on the clarity of your argument, the effectiveness of your use of evidence, the logical progression of your argument, and the quality of your writing. You will turn in TWO copies of your paper:

1. A paper copy in class. 2. An electronic copy to the anti-plagiarism site, TurnItIn, through our class

Blackboard (learn.unt.edu). We will be able to grade your hard copy once it has been matched to the electronic copy on TurnItIn.



• You MUST cite the evidence that you use to make your argument, using footnotes in the format below.

• Newspapers: Whenever you cite evidence from your newspaper, use footnotes in this general format:

o Newspaper Title, “Article title,” Date, page #. o So it should look something like this.1

• Weber’s book: Whenever you cite material from Weber’s book, use footnotes in this general format:

o Weber, From South Texas to the Nation, page #. o So it should look like this.2


• Go to the Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu/).

• Make your way to the “Advanced Search” page one of two ways: 1. Scroll down the main page to the green “Search” box. Click the arrow next to

the green “Search” box and then select “Advanced Search.” 2. Simply go to this URL: https://texashistory.unt.edu/search/advanced_search/

• Within the “Advanced Search” page, scroll down to the section “Smart Filters” and under “Collection” select your newspaper:

o The Houston Post (ignore The Houston Daily Post) OR

o Breckenridge Daily American

• Then go up to the section that says “Date Range” and put in a start year (such as “1920”) and an end year (such as “1922”) to limit your search to a particular set of years.

o If you choose The Houston Post, use a date range between 1900-1909 or 1920- 1929.

o If you choose the Breckenridge Daily American, use a date range between 1920- 1929 or 1930-39.

o In both cases, you can – and probably should – use smaller date ranges than an entire decade. You could start, say, with 1920-1922, and then go in two-year increments from there forward.

• Once you have your date range, then go to the section of the search page that says “Search the Content of Items,” which has a box next to “Inside Pages:”

o This is where can put in the keyword or term you would like to search for across the newspapers. Enter a term and then click the “Search” box on the right!

1 Breckinridge American, “Protests Erupt,” September 22, 1926, p. 2. 2 Weber, From South Texas to the Nation, p. 123.


• IMPORTANT TIP: Just as with the first paper, you will need to experiment with using different words and terms in your searches. People during the first half of the twentieth century often did not use the same language that you or I would use today. So, for example, you will not find “Mexican-American” used in these newspapers, as that was not a term in use back then.

o We recommend, instead, using variations of words that Weber points toward in his book. So, for example, “Mexican,” “Spaniard,” “greaser,” “laborer,” “Spanish,” and various misspellings of those will get you started.

• FREE POINTS! As a reward for those who do rough drafts, we will award five extra points (half a letter grade!) to the final paper grade of any student who submits BOTH of the following before the end of class on November 13:

1. A rough draft of your introduction paragraph and thesis statement. 2. Print-outs of five articles that you found and plan to use in your paper, with

relevant sections of the articles highlighted.

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