Discover Your Island

Rare Films from A&M-Corpus Christi Archives Receive National Recognition

December 13, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Mary and Jeff Bell Library Department of Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is pleased to announce that motion picture films from the Antonio Rodriguez Fuentes and Josefina Barrera Fuentes Family Papers have been named to the National Film Registry. The films, which were preserved through a 2015 partnership with the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI), are among the 25 American films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant through their addition to the registry, announced by the Library of Congress earlier today.

“When we found out the Fuentes films from the University’s special collections were chosen out of hundreds of entries, we were truly thrilled,” said Dr. Catherine Rudowsky, Dean of Libraries at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “I am honored to be part of the Island University and the work we are doing to preserve our region’s unique and diverse history. I am especially thankful to Ann Hodges who chose these films for the TAMI preservation project, recognizing their significance and value.”

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry. The Librarian makes the annual selections to the registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board.

“We are thrilled to learn of the inclusion of the Fuentes Family Papers to the National Film Registry,” said Caroline Frick, TAMI Executive Director. “The Fuentes’ films beautifully document life on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, and illustrate the rich confluence of cultures that has made, and continues to make, Texas’ story vital to understanding the history of our nation.”

Antonio Rodríguez Fuentes (1895-1988) and Josefina Barrera Fuentes (1898-1993) were longtime Corpus Christi residents who ranked among the most involved individuals in early local Mexican American community organizations. Antonio Rodriguez Fuentes was born and raised on his family’s ranch near Montemorelos, Nuevo León, Mexico, and received his education in Montemorelos. Josefina Barrera Fuentes was a native of Corpus Christi and the daughter of respected members of the city’s Mexican American society. The couple married in 1918. Because of her family’s affiliation with many organizations, Josefina Barrera Fuentes and her husband naturally became involved in these groups as well as in the social network that they comprised.

“We are delighted that the Fuentes films are receiving this prestigious national honor and are grateful for the partnership with TAMI that made it possible,” explained Ann Hodges, Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist. “We look forward to helping our students and others explore the Fuentes Family Papers and other unique research resources at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library.”

Antonio Rodríguez Fuentes was an avid amateur photographer. His motion pictures represent some of the earliest made by a Mexican American filmmaker about the Mexican American community in Texas. His photography spanned a range of topics, including family and historically valuable images from the organizations in which he and his wife were active.

The films named to the registry were shot with a French-made Pathex camera on 9.5 mm film, a rare film format popular for a short time in the early 20th century, primarily in Europe. The films can be viewed online HERE.