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Mexican American Firsts
Mexican American Firsts: Trailblazers of Austin and Travis County

Project Summary

The Austin History Center, a Division of the Austin Public Library, is creating an exhibit celebrating Mexican Americans (alive or deceased) who have lived in Austin and Travis County and who were the first to blaze a trail within their respective communities in the areas of Education, Politics, Business, Public Service, Public Health, Media, the Arts, Humanities and Sports.

The exhibition will be displayed at the Austin History Center during the months of August 2010 to January 2011. A companion exhibit will also be created into a traveling exhibit. Tour of this exhibit will begin in September 2010 at the Mexican American Cultural Center and then will travel to other locations throughout Austin and Travis County. Both exhibits will include short oral histories, photographs, artifacts and other archival material housed at the Austin History Center.

Due to available exhibit space at the Austin History Center, only (32) thirty two nominees were selected as Trailblazers. The Austin History Center recognizes that there are many more people in the Mexican American community working in various ways to make Austin a more vibrant and dynamic city. The stories of the 32 trailblazers will illustrate the greater history of the Mexican American Community in Austin. It is the hope of the Austin History Center that this project will spur further discussion and exploration of this history by scholars, students, and the general public.

Further plans include creating a publication commemorating the exhibit. This publication will include a chronological timeline of the Mexican American communities in Austin and Travis County along with other historical documentation depicting the Mexican American culture in Austin. Full biographical information along with their photographs of the (32) thirty-two Trailblazers will be included in the publication. All other nominees not selected as Trailblazers will receive mention, along with their photographs, in the publication.

Selection Committee Criteria

All nomination applications were reviewed by a Selection Committee. The committee was comprised of five representatives from educational, cultural and historical venues. Committee members reviewed each nomination form submitted to the Neighborhood Liaison for the Mexican American Collection at the Austin History. They made their decisions based on the nomination criteria below.

The deadline for nominations was October 31, 2009, and the Austin History Center received 60 nominations. The selection committed deliberated for about two months before selecting the 32 Trailblazers.

Nomination Criteria

Nominees must have lived in Austin or Travis County for a significant number of years

Nominee(s) must fit the definition of a Trailblazer "one who blazes a trail to guide others; an innovative leader in a field; a pioneer."

Nominee(s) must have been the first for example to have been elected to a political position in Austin or Travis County; started a business that has existed in our community for years, etc.

Nominee(s) must have made significant contributions to the Mexican American community in Austin and Travis County

Nominee(s) must have made a significant accomplishment(s) in one or several of the (9) nine nomination categories: Education, Politics, Business, Public Service, Public Health, Communication Media, the Arts, Humanities and Sports.

For more information about this project, please contact Gloria Espitia, Neighborhood Liaison by e-mail ( or telephone (512-974-7498).

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