As a newcomer to Corpus Christi, one of the first local history figures I learned about was Dr. Hector P. Garcia. And for good reason: Dr. Hector, who settled in Corpus with his family in 1945, was an enormously influential individual who made an impact not just locally but globally. He treated indigent patients in his medical practice. He founded the American G.I. Forum, which allowed Mexican-American veterans to organize and advocate for their rights. He stood up for migrant workers and schoolchildren. He spoke before the United Nations, served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. All in all, an incredible man who is making me feel extremely unaccomplished just writing this. If you’re mostly familiar with Dr. Hector as that statue that chills out by the fountain, do yourself a favor and look into his life and work.
The Archives and Special Collections at Bell Library is lucky enough to be the home of the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers. Coming in at almost 360 linear feet—the length of a football field—and spanning the doctor’s entire 50+ year career in public life, you can imagine the trove of information and insight this collection represents. In 2018, when the papers came back from a year and a half in Maryland being processed, arranged and described, Dean Cate Rudowsky decided the Library needed to do something to highlight this truly unique and remarkable collection.
The result was the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Fellowship. The Fellowship is a $1,000 award designed to allow the recipient to travel to Bell Library and do research with the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers. Not only does this bring a researcher to the papers, it brings Dr. Hector to the world. By encouraging research into his collection, the Fellowship helps ensure that Dr. Hector’s work for justice and equality is remembered. We are grateful to the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation for supporting the first two Fellowship awards and hope to offer this award for many years to come.
If you are a student, faculty member, or independent researcher whose research would benefit from working with the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers, apply for the inaugural Dr. Hector P. Garcia Fellowship! Applications are due March 1, 2019. Send any questions to us at [email protected] and good luck!
Kim Gianfrancesco, Digital and Processing Archivist
Image: Dr. Hector P. Garcia speaking at an event marking the donation of his papers to Bell Library.