Venegas Family Biography
Title: Venegas Family papers.
Collection number: 099
Dolores Dávalos de Venegas
14 linear feet (20 archival document boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 2 map case folders)
Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
Abstract: The Venegas Family Papers document extensively the history of this family, headed by Dolores (1900-1991) and Miguel Venegas
(1897-1994), in Los Angeles and the state of Jalisco, Mexico, through textual and photographic materials, DVDs, and Roman
Languages represented in the collection:
Languages represented in the collection:
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Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher
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for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or
[Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder number, Venegas Family Papers, 099, Department of Archives and Special
Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.
Gift of Dr. María Teresa Venegas, with Carlos Venegas, 6 April 2011. Accession number: 2011.17.
First accrual: 18 January 2012
Second accrual: 16 April 2012
Third accural: 18 July 2012; gift of José Miguel Venegas, through Dr. María Teresa Venegas, with Carlos Venegas.
NOTE: All accruals brought in under original accession number (2011.17).
Venegas Family Biography
This collection documents principally the lives of Miguel and Dolores ("Lola") Venegas, both originally residents of Zapotlanejo,
of the state of Jalisco, Mexico, before immigrating to Los Angeles in 1927. Miguel was born to Juan Venegas (1872-1955) and
Julia Cárdenas de Venegas (1881-1961) in 1897; Dolores to Silviano Dávalos (1870-1963) and Dolores Morales de Dávalos (1881-1919)
in 1900. Miguel was the eldest of eight children, Dolores the second of four.
Miguel's original home was a ranch (Rancho San Roque, Jalsico, Mexico), owned by Miguel’s grandfather, Donaciano Venegas.
The family eventually moved to Zapotlanejo. Here Juan Venegas opened a bakery—later expanded to a grocery store—where Miguel
would eventually work, after first working on the "Hacienda de Colimilla" (by 1914). Following this work for his father in
Zapotlanejo, he then managed a general store there.
The family of Dolores Dávalos was prosperous, its financial wellbeing resting on the five haciendas (large landed estates)
that her maternal grandfather José María Morales had accumulated. Dolores attended school through the third grade; her future
husband, Miguel, made it through the fourth—and final—grade, although he pursued extensive reading on his own after his primary
education ended. In 1918, the two became engaged; their marriage followed one year later (1919).
Four sons were born in the first seven years of the marriage: José Miguel (1920-2015); Ricardo (1922-); Guillermo (1924-),
and Eduardo (1926-1999). Through ownership of a profitable general store and the inheritance of a ranch (El Ingenio) from
Dolores' grandparents, and acquisition of another (El Cerro), the couple prospered.
The Cristero Rebellion (1926-1929), the revolt of Mexican Roman Catholics against the relentlessly anti-clerical policies
of the government of president Plutarco Elías Calles, upended the lives of Dolores and Miguel Venegas, devout Roman Catholics.
Miguel and brother Alfonso joined the Cristero forces, taking to the countryside with the Cristero armed forces. Alfonso
would die in the service of the Cristeros, but Miguel survived, although the suppression of the Cristeros, resulting in their
persecution in his home town of Zapotlanejo, would force his and his family's move to the United States for safety. He chose
Los Angeles, partly because of the many Cristero refugees from Jalisco there, and arrived in June 1927. His family would
join him later that year, in October.
The family settled in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, where in the first three years in Los Angeles, Dolores bore
two more children: Juan José (1928-1997) and María Teresa (1930-). In addition, four more children would be born to Dolores
and Miguel: Alfonso (1933-1966); José María (1935-); Enrique (1939-); and Carlos (1941-).
To support himself and his family, Miguel first worked as a dishwasher, but using money that Dolores had made from the sale
of their cattle in Zapotlanejo, he bought a small store at 805 California Street (the corner of Bunker Hill and California)
that came with a house at 419 North Bunker Hill Street and attached garages that were rented out. The store, although hard
and time-consuming work for both Dolores and Miguel (it was normally open six and one half days per week), provided for a
comfortable living: Miguel could afford to buy a car, for example. Because of his forced move from Zapotlanejo, problems with
creditors there over his business and lands still plagued Miguel and proved a consistent concern. The Depression would bring
severe financial hardship to the family because business at the store suffered from the inability of clients to pay—a persistent
problem throughout the 1930s.
Miguel returned to Mexico in 1932 for a ten day visit, to determine if conditions in Zapotlanejo were favorable for his family's
return, which, he decided, were not. Consequently, he returned to Los Angeles that same year, but eight years later Miguel
decided to return with his family to Mexico, while retaining his business in Los Angeles, which his sons José Miguel, Ricardo,
and Guillermo managed for him. Miguel gave up his rented home at 808 California Street, to which the family had moved after
leaving the smaller residence at 419 North Bunker Hill Street. The garages that were part of the store at 805 California
were converted to living quarters for the three sons.
Miguel Venegas returned to Los Angeles in December 1941, and the entire family returned in 1942. The converted rooms at the
store at 805 California Street provided the initial living quarters, but in 1946, the family moved to 1505 West Temple Street,
where Miguel and Dolores would reside until their deaths. That same year Miguel relocated his store to the corner of Grand
and Temple streets, which he ran until the late 1940s, when the City of Los Angeles bought the property in that area for
the construction of the county and city court buildings.
The family maintained close contacts with relatives in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo. The trip of José Miguel to Mexico to
attend the 1938 meeting of the Associación Católica de la Juventud Mexicana resulted in a lengthy stay in Guadalajara and
Zapotlanejo, which foreshadowed extended family vacations to Mexico to visit family and friends beginning in the mid 1940s.
In the 1940s, Miguel expanded his Los Angeles business ventures by moving into the management and ownership of real estate.
This first occurred, circa 1942, when Japanese neighbors asked him to manage their apartment complex (the Elite Apartments)
in the Bunker Hill area because of their forced move to internment camps. In either 1943 or 1944 Miguel Venegas bought a
Victorian home remodeled into apartments on Flower Street. He continued to acquire and manage property at least until the
early 1960s, when it is known that he developed apartments on Court Street in Los Angeles in 1962.
In World War II, three sons would serve in the armed forces: José Miguel, Ricardo, and Guillermo. Miguel served in the United
States Army Air Corps in Europe, flying thirty-three missions as a radio operator on a B-17. Ricardo was a member of the United
States Army, serving in Alaska, while Guillermo saw combat in the South Pacific with the United States Army. In the Korean
War, Juan José Venegas would earn a Purple Heart.
The family, of course, was active in the Roman Catholic Church, attending mass, at least in the early years in Los Angeles,
at "La Placita" (La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles or Our Lady Queen of Angels), the Roman Catholic church
on the plaza of old Los Angeles and a center for Mexican-American cultural life. Miguel Venegas became active in the Knights
of Columbus, eventually reaching the fourth degree. Dolores Venegas' stature in the Mexican-American community was confirmed
when she received the honor of "Mexican Mother of the Year" in 1969, the same year that she and Miguel celebrated their fiftieth
wedding anniversary with their extended family.
In 1973, Miguel and Dolores began splitting the year between Zapotlanejo and Los Angeles, after building a residence in the
former. In Mexico, Miguel devoted his time to charity, funding the construction of a Red Cross hospital in Zapotlanejo and
a school in nearby Jocotopec. In recognition of this, a street in Zapotlanejo is named after him.
Dolores Venegas passed away in 1991. Miguel Venegas died in 1994, but not before becoming a citizen of the United States in
All information in this biography comes from the Venegas Family Papers, Collection 099; or else from Venegas family members,
principally Carlos Venegas and Dr. María Teresa Venegas, especially her family history (for which, see Series 1, Subseries
A, Box 1, Folder 7).
Dr. María Teresa Venegas published a biography of her parents and study of their correspondence
cum translation, entitled
Letters Home: Mexican Exile Correspondence from Los Angeles, 1927-1932.
||Miguel Venegas born to Juan and Julia Venegas at Rancho San Roque, state of Jalisco, Mexico.
||Dolores Dávalos Morales born to Silviano and Dolores Dávalos in Zapotlanejo, state of Jalisco, Mexico.
||By this date, Miguel Venegas is working at Hacienda de Colimilla.
||Miguel Venegas moves to Zapotlanejo and works at bakery of father Juan.
||Miguel Venegas and Dolores Dávalos begin courtship.
||Miguel Venegas and Dolores Dávalos married in Zapotlanejo.
||Miguel Venegas runs a general store and two ranches in Zapotlanejo
||José Miguel Venegas, first child of Miguel and Dolores Venegas, born.
||Three more sons are born to Miguel and Dolores Venegas: Ricardo (1922-); Guillermo (1924-); and Eduardo (1926-1999).
||Cristero Rebellion in Mexico begins. Miguel Venegas and brother Alfonso join Cristeros.
||Miguel Venegas immigrates to the United States because of weakening of Cristero Rebellion, and subsequent persecution of Cristeros,
choosing Los Angeles. The rest of the family joins him there, that same year, in October.
||Using money from sale of cattle by Dolores in Mexico, Miguel Venegas buys store at 805 California Street, with adjoining
home, which forms the basis of the family's prosperity.
||The first two Venegas children are born in Los Angeles: Son Juan José born, followed by sister María Teresa two years later.
||Miguel Venegas returns to Mexico for the first time since move to Los Angeles.
||Son Alfonso born.
||Son José María ("Chema") born.
||Son Enrique born.
||Son Carlos born.
||Miguel Venegas begins managing property in Los Angeles, while retaining property and income from Mexico.
||Sons José Miguel, Ricardo, and Guillermo serve in World War II.
||Son Alfonso dies.
||Miguel and Dolores Venegas celebrate fiftieth wedding anniversary.
||Dolores Venegas named Mexican Mother of the Year.
||Miguel and Dolores Venegas build home in Zapotlanejo, where they begin to reside for one half of the year.
||Red Cross hospital in Zapotlanejo, built with funding from Miguel Venegas, dedicated.
||Dolores Venegas dies.
||Miguel Venegas becomes a citizen of the United States.
||Miguel Venegas dies.
||Son Juan José dies.
||Son Eduardo dies.
||Dr. María Teresa Venegas, with brother Carlos, donates Venegas Family Papers to Loyola Marymount University.
||Dr. María Teresa Venegas' biography of her parents and edition of their correspondence,
Letters Home: Mexican Exile Correspondence from Los Angeles, 1927-1932, is published.
||José Miguel, eldest child of Dolores and Miguel Venegas, dies.
The Venegas Family Papers document extensively the history of this family, headed by Dolores, "Lola" (1900-1991) and Miguel
Venegas (1897-1994), in Los Angeles, and in Zapotlanejo and Guadalajara, of the state of Jalisco, Mexico, through textual
and photographic materials, DVDs, and Roman Catholic realia. The dates of the material run from 1899 to 2003. Textual materials
include newspaper clippings, government birth and immigration records, and anniversary and funeral registers and guest books.
Most revealing of the textual materials for the family history and its broader significance is the extensive correspondence,
especially that between Miguel and Dolores Venegas and relatives in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo, in Jalisco, Mexico. The
correspondence ranges from the late 1920s through the early 1990s, documenting well Venegas family affairs in both Los Angeles
and in Mexico, since Miguel and Dolores and their children maintained extensive contacts with their homeland. Almost all the
correspondence is in Spanish, and often colloquial, with irregular orthography, which in itself is noteworthy evidence for
Spanish linguistics and levels of literacy in Mexico. Of special interest is the use of the word "chicano"; for example,
Miguel Venegas calls his children that in a letter of 30 October 1928 (Series 1, Subseries A, Box 1, Folder 2). Such usages
may stand as some of the earliest written instances of this word in the United States.
Especially valuable is the correspondence found in Series 1, Subseries A and Subseries D, which Dr. María Teresa Venegas (1930-),
daughter of Dolores and Miguel Venegas, specifically arranged to document family history during its first five years in Los
Angeles after moving there to avoid persecution during the Cristero Rebellion. Subseries A consists of a series of letters
from Miguel, and occasionally Dolores, sent to Miguel's father and brother Francisco in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. In
these letters from 1927 through 1932, Miguel and Dolores describe life for a Mexican immigrant family in Los Angeles, including
conditions of work for the Mexican immigrant community, political freedoms in Los Angeles versus those in Mexico, the effects
of the Depression, means of success for a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles, and secular versus Roman Catholic education for
their children in Los Angeles. In addition, Miguel Venegas also writes of the Cristero Rebellion, including, for example,
his thoughts on persecution of Roman Catholics in Jalisco (Box 1, Folder 2) or the agreement between the government of President
Emilio Portes Gil and the Mexican church, headed by Archbishop Leopoldo Ruiz y Flores, to end the rebellion. Responses to
these letters from relatives in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo are found in Subseries D, with notes from Dr. Venegas correlating
these letters with those found in Subseries A.
Also valuable witness to Mexican immigrant life in Los Angeles are the letters that José Miguel Venegas (1920-), eldest child
of Miguel and Dolores Venegas, wrote to relatives in Guadalajara and Zapotlanejo, Mexico, and also which he, while in Mexico,
wrote to his family in Los Angeles (Series 1, Subseries E). José Miguel Venegas' letters cover aspects of daily life, including
his work to support the family, fluency in English, the well-being of his father's store, Christmas gifts, and, at the request
of his uncle Francisco Venegas, an outline of his daily routine. Rich in family sentiment, Miguel's letters also stand as
a good source of social history for a Mexican family in Los Angeles.
Other textual materials (Series 2) concern records of the family's immigration, such as the head tax documents of Miguel and
Dolores; newspaper clippings, especially concerning Dolores Venegas' award as Mexican Mother of the Year (1969); and a smattering
of Miguel Venegas' business records.
The photographs of this collection are also rich for the social life of a Mexican family in Los Angeles. They consist of loose
photographs (Series 3) and albums (Series 6). Loose photographs include elegant family group pictures or single portraits,
from circa 1900 through the 1960s, of extended Venegas family members in both Mexico and the United States.
Albums document photographically Venegas family life in Los Angeles, including trips to the beach, the family store, school,
and family milestones, such as the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Miguel and Dolores Venegas. Furthermore, their home of
Zapotlanejo and Guadalajara are not neglected with photographic postcards and photographs dating from the 1930s. Also interesting
is a photograph of the funeral in 1936 of Bishop José Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, supporter of Roman Catholic religious rights
during the Cristero Rebellion. Whether loose photographs or in albums these photographs, especially those from 1900 to 1950,
stand as cultural markers of dress, social status, religious life, and family relations.
The collection is also strong in religious realia associated with Roman Catholic religious practices. A devout Roman Catholic
family, the Venegas family owned numerous holy cards, "spiritual bouquets," scalpulars, and religious images, which all document
religious piety through their themes and emphases. The realia are found in Series 2 and Series 5. Those clearly associated
with a Venegas family member, eg, Dolores Venegas' collection of holy cards, rosaries, crosses, etc. (Box 3ov), were placed
with the personal papers and possession of the Venegases, while those loose religious realia were placed in Series 5 designed
to accommodate such items.
A relative of Miguel Venegas was María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas ("Madre Nati"); she was also the first female Mexican
saint. In Series 6, there is a run of materials related to her beatification (1992) and canonization (2000) collected principally
by María Teresa Venegas during family trips to Rome for these occasions. These include photographs of the ceremonies, programs,
biographical and religious booklets and pamphlets on the saint. There is also a DVD of the beatification ceremony in Rome
for the Mexican martyrs of the Cristero Rebellion.
The Venegas Family Papers are arranged in the following series and subseries:
Series 1: Correspondence:
Subseries A: Miguel Venegas and Dolores Venegas, 1927-1932
Subseries B: General Family Correspondence
Subseries C: Correspondence of Sor Gabriela de la Inmaculada Concepción and Sor Amada del Niño Jesús
Subseries D: Correspondence of Juan Venegas and Francisco Venegas
Subseries E: Correspondence of José Miguel Venegas
Series 2: Family Personal Papers and Realia
Series 3: Photographs
Series 4: María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas Beatification and Canonization Materials
Series 5: Roman Catholic Religious Literature and Realia
Series 6: Albums
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Venegas, Miguel (1897-1994)
Venegas, Dolores Dávalos de (1900-1991)
Mexican -- California -- History -- 20th century
Mexican Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century
Mexican Americans -- California -- 20th century
Mexican American Catholics -- California -- Los Angeles -- History
Mexican American Catholics -- California --Religious Life
Mexican American families -- California -- Los Angeles
Mexico -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century
California -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century
Jalisco (Mexico : State) -- Emigration and immigration
Cristero Rebellion, 1926-1929
Catholic Church -- Mexico -- Jalisco (State) -- History -- 20th century