The American GI Forum of California Collection includes correspondence, ephemera, and organizational papers documenting their
activities. These materials offer researchers a lens into the often-difficult reintegration process that veterans undergo
following their separation from the armed forces, as well as the overall effects of this process on their families and their
communities. Researchers will find these materials useful for critical examinations of the social location of Latino servicemen
and servicewomen within the context of a large metropolitan center and how this identity has evolved since 1942. Indeed, a
collection of this caliber has wide application for studies on the overall condition of Latinos within the United States as
well as on the lives and communities of California Latino veterans. Moreover, according to Kelly Lytle-Hernandez, professor
of History at UCLA, this particular collection has much to offer scholars interested in studying local California politics,
Latino veteran organizing, and gender dynamics in a traditionally male-centered context. According to her, the stories reflected
in these papers act as a precursor to later Chicano organizing.
The American GI Forum was founded in 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas as a resource for Mexican American veterans returning from
service in WWII and their families. The repressive socio-economic and political climate of Texas prior to WWII and the lack
of social mobility and limited opportunities afforded to servicemen and women despite their service in the nation's armed
forces, functioned as an impetus to create an organization that could represent and fight for veterans' rights. Although this
organization was originally created to meet the needs of those veterans living in South Texas, several victories related to
veterans' benefits and access to health care motivated Mexican Americans in other parts of the nation to create their own
local American GI Forum chapters. Key to this growth was the denial of funeral services in 1949 to a Mexican American soldier
– Private Felix Longoria, whose remains were returned home four years after being killed in combat in the Philippines. After
organizing several protests and receiving a great deal of media attention, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson intervened and arranged
for PVT Longoria to be buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user
must assume full responsibility for any use of materials, including but not limited to infringement of copyright and publication
rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.
The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.
Open for research.