AUSTIN, Texas—Family members, friends and colleagues of former U.S. Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez gathered Wednesday, Oct. 25, in San Antonio for the unveiling of the Henry B. Gonzalez Web site and opening of the Henry B. Gonzalez Collection, which will be maintained and archived in the Congressional History Collection of the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
Henry B. Gonzalez
The collection includes photographs and more than 500 linear feet of documents, including Gonzalez’ personal notebooks, materials on controversial hearings, insights into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and notes on his personal battles against Jim Crow segregation.
Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros was master of ceremonies for the evening event, which was sponsored by the Center for American History, Mrs. Bertha Gonzalez and the family of Henry B. Gonzalez.
Cisneros moderated a panel of dignitaries from both sides of the political spectrum, all of whom had worked with Gonzalez. Guest panelists included former U.S. Representatives E. Kika de la Garza, Tom Loeffler and Robert Krueger.
“Henry B. served as a pioneer breaking through the dark forest of societal restrictions and legal impediments that had been imposed by tradition and prejudice against various minority groups—African Americans, Asian Americans and especially Hispanic Americans in this country,” said Krueger.
Loeffler also expressed his respect for Gonzalez, saying, “Not withstanding our differences in party affiliation and political philosophy, Chairman Gonzalez and I were very close personal friends and compadres. He was a great American for whom I had the highest respect and admiration. I really do miss him.”
Guest speaker Dr. Don Carleton, director of the Center for American History, premiered the center’s new Web site dedicated to the Gonzalez Collection. It includes an extensive photo and image gallery, a seven-page biography, a timeline, curriculum guides, a finding aid and a special section dedicated to Gonzalez’ correspondence with President Kennedy.
“With his lifelong commitment to public service and a better life for all people, Congressman Gonzalez left a legacy of achievement that shaped the American economy and society in the last half of the 20th century,” said Carleton. “We are honored to be the repository of this rich and significant component of American history.”
The Gonzalez family initially gave Gonzalez’ various documents, correspondence and memorabilia to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Gonzalez and three of his sons (Henry Jr., Charlie and Frank) are St. Mary’s Law School alumni. In 2004, the Gonzalez family, in cooperation with St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, donated the collection to the Congressional History Collection at the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
“We are pleased that this collection has found a very fitting home at the Center for American History in one of the nation’s premier congressional history collections,” said Bill Piatt, dean of St. Mary’s University School of Law.
The furnishings from Gonzalez’ Washington office, which are part of the Gonzalez Collection, are displayed at the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library on the St. Mary’s University campus.
Gonzalez’ son, Charlie Gonzalez, is now the U.S. representative from Texas’ 20th Congressional District, holding the same seat held by his father. He and his mother, Bertha Gonzalez, and his seven siblings, Henry B. Gonzalez Jr., Rose Mary Ramos, Bertha Denzer, Stephen Gonzalez, Genevieve R. Gonzalez, Frank E. Gonzalez and Anna Ihle, view the Gonzalez Collection as a fitting tribute to Henry B.’s legacy.
“It is extremely gratifying to my family that the public will now have access to my father’s records, because he devoted his life to protecting the interests of that same public,” said Congressman Charlie Gonzalez. “He devoted his life to improving the social and economic opportunity for all Americans—and every citizen benefited from his unwavering service.”
Items from the Gonzalez Collection, augmented by a new Web site, are available to the public at the Center for American History Web site. The public can access the collection in the Center for American History’s reading room in Sid Richardson Hall, Unit 2, on The University of Texas at Austin campus, or on the center’s Web site dedicated to the Gonzalez Collection.
The Center for American History’s extensive Congressional History Collection holds the papers of more than 60 people elected to Congress. These include Sam Houston, Albert Sidney Burleson, Sam Rayburn, John Nance Garner, Maury Maverick Sr., Lloyd Bentsen and Ralph Yarborough. San Antonio area congressional papers in the historical collection include Garner, Maverick Sr., Paul Kilday, Harry M. Wurzbach and Robert Krueger.
A complete list of congressional collections is available on the Center for American History’s Web site.