CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – An important milestone in the year-long project to improve access to the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers has been achieved with the release of an online exhibit that provides an overview of the life and accomplishments of the Corpus Christi physician and champion of Mexican American civil rights. The exhibit, which went live Thursday, Dec. 1, can be accessed at http://tamuccgarcia.omeka.net/.
In partnership with History Associates Inc., the historical research company selected to assist with processing the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers housed in the Special Collections of the Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is leading the project that will organize and selectively digitize Garcia’s papers. The website will allow historians across the nation, students doing research papers and the general public to see and more easily find documents that are among the most valuable resources on the Mexican American experience during the last half of the 20th century.
“This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide first-class access to a unique and highly significant body of materials,” said Ann Hodges, Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist at the Bell Library. “It will completely transform the ability of students and researchers anywhere to find and benefit from Dr. Garcia’s legacy and life’s work.”
Garcia (1914-1996) founded the American GI Forum in 1948 to organize veterans to fight for educational and medical benefits. In 1990, Garcia donated to the University the papers that include letters to and from Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
"Scholars worldwide who are conducting civil rights, Mexican American rights and veteran rights research will now be able to easily discover and access the historically significant work of Dr. Garcia,” said Catherine Rudowsky, Bell Library Director. “This is an important academic and civic achievement."
The online exhibit is divided into five different life chapters including doctor, soldier, activist, ambassador and legacy. After work has been completed, the collection will consist of approximately 400 linear feet of records and a yet-to-be-determined amount of digital files. In addition to correspondence and newspaper clippings, the papers include audio/visual materials and artifacts such as buttons, plaques, medical bags, stethoscopes, photographs, telegrams and letters.
“Those expressing interest in the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers have ranged from 5th graders to university professors, including the general populace,” said Hodges. “This project puts a wonderful resource about civil rights and service to humanity right at their fingertips.”
As of Dec. 1, the team of archivists processing the papers is approximately 30 percent complete, having processed 177 linear feet of materials. Digitization of audio/visual materials has been completed and digitization of selected text materials is underway. The project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2017.