AUSTIN, Texas—The papers of internationally known scholar and humanist Américo Paredes (1915-1999) are now part of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the General Libraries, at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Don Américo,” as he was affectionately known, received his doctorate in English in 1956 from UT Austin, where he spent his scholarly life. He taught and inspired students, and he developed special programs and centers on folklore of the U.S. Southwest and Mexico and for the study of Mexican American culture.
Paredes’ early poetry and stories, based on experiences in his native Brownsville and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, appeared in newspapers in south Texas before he did his graduate work. An early novel written before World War II was published as George Washington Gómez: A Mexicotexan Novelin 1991. His most enduring works stem from his work as a folklorist. His collections of tales and corridos — the folk songs and ballads of the Texas-Mexican border — allowed him to challenge the anthropological literature that until then examined Mexican culture in Texas from an outsider’s view. His best known work, With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero(1958), was the basis for the 1982 film The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez. These, other books and scores of articles firmly established Paredes as a scholar of the first rank.
Paredes received numerous awards for his studies in folklore and Chicano studies and literature. The most prestigious honors were the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1989, and La Aguila Azteca, the highest honor given to a foreigner, from the Mexican government in 1991. The Austin Independent School District named a new middle school in his honor that opened this past January.
The Paredes Papers (65.5 feet) include manuscripts of his published and unpublished work, correspondence, note cards, class notes, audio and videotapes, sheet music and songbooks, and files of his editorial work for major folklore journals. The papers represent a significant addition to the more than ninety archival collections at the Benson Collection that document the Hispanic presence in the United States. Among these are the papers of Don Américo’s contemporaries, educator George I. Sánchez (1906-1972) and sociologist Julián Samora (1920-1996).
The internationally recognized Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection acquires and provides access to materials on Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Latino culture in the United States. It is located in Sid Richardson Hall, Unit 1, on the east side of campus.
NOTE TO EDITORS: A photograph of Américo Paredes by Tino Mauricio is available from the Benson Latin American Collection. Use of this photograph was made possible under a limited license agreement from the photographer who retains copyright. For further information contact: Margo Gutiérrez, Mexican American & Latino Studies librarian/bibliographer, Benson Latin American Collection, (512) 495-4589 or E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.