Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Carmen Cortes Collection MSS.0194

Descriptive Summary

Creator Cortes, Carmen Garza, 1913-
Title: Carmen Cortes Collection
Dates: 1920's-1966
Identification: MSS.0194
Quantity: 2.5 Linear feet, 5 boxes
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

Carmen Garza Cortes was born in 1913 in Mission San Juan, San Antonio, Texas. After her father Bartolo died in 1914, her mother Victoria married Julio Reyes, a farmer from McQueney, Texas. Carmen and her older sister grew up with Reyes' three daughters from his first marriage. Later, Reyes moved to Houston where he owned a grocery store on Avenue K in Houston's Magnolia Park subdivision.

Carmen attended a local business college after high school. In 1933, she married Melicio Cortes, who owned a produce store in Houston.

In the 1940's, Carmen Cortes became the first Hispanic hired for a "white collar" job by Harris County; she worked for a judge.

Carmen was a very active member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Carmen served as the National secretary of LULAC during the 1950's through 1960, and again from 1966-1967. In addition, she served other Hispanic organizations including Ladies' LULAC Council #22, as well as a number of other Hispanic social and civic clubs.

In her leadership role in these organizations, especially in LULAC, Carmen Cortes became an early woman activist for Hispanic civil rights.


The collection comprises 5 boxes. Box 1 and 2 are photographs of family, extended family, and friends, including a number for LULAC social events. Box 3 is a personal photo album of Ms. Cortes' from the 1920's and 1930's. Box 4 contains programs and resolutions from LULAC conventions and issues of the LULAC News from 1950 through 1966. Box 5 contains LULAC correspondence from or to Carmen Cortes, souvenirs and documents from Hispanic groups and family papers from the Reyes-Martinez and Cortes families. The over-300 photos are arranged chronologically by family/subject group. Each photo is identified.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Carmen Cortes Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Cortes, Carmen Garza, 1913-
League of United Latin American Citizens
Hispanic American civic leaders--Texas--Houston
League of United Latin American Citizens
Political activists--Texas--Houston
Women's rights--Texas--Houston

Related Archival Materials

RG.1314 LULAC News Collection

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Carmen Cortes Collection. MSS 194. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mrs. Carmen Cortes, 1981.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Box Folder
1 1 Photographs 1-25: Gutierrez and Garza families
2 Photographs 26-58A: Reyes and related families #1
3 Photographs 59-104: Reyes and related families #2
4 Photographs 105-124: Garza Cortes family
5 Photographs 125-184: Cortes family/LULAC
6 Photographs 185-205: Martinez family/US Army
Box Folder
2 1 Photographs 206-228: Navarro family
2 Photographs 229-232: Cruz family
3 Photographs 233A-233B: Mexican American Band/TX
4 Photographs 233C: Mexican American Band/TX
5 Photographs 234-238: Mexican Americans
6 Photographs 239-246: Saltillo, Mexico
7 Photographs 367-383: Additional photos
3 Photographs Album (photos 247-366)

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Box Folder
4 1 National Convention By-Laws 1952/Operating Procedures 1956
2 National Convention Program, Austin, TX
3 National Convention, El Paso, TX, and Supreme Council
4 National Convention, Anaheim, CA, Amendments & Resolutions
5 National Convention, Laredo, TX, Amendments & Resolutions
6 National Convention, Chicago, IL, Amendments & Resolutions
7 National Convention and Supreme Council Meeting, San Antonio, TX, Program, Correspondence, & Minutes
8 LULAC News December 1950, May 1952, January, February, November 1953
9 LULAC News, 25th Anniversary Issue, February 1954
10 LULAC News May, June, August 1955
11 LULAC News January, May 1956, February, March, June, July 1957
12 LULAC News March, July-December 1958
13 LULAC News January-June, November 1959
14 LULAC News February 1960, and Proposed Amendment Reading
15 LULAC News June 19?? and September 1961
16 LULAC News January, February, May, September, December 1962
17 LULAC News January, April, May, July, August, November - December 1963
18 LULAC News February, April/May 1964 Tabloid
19 LULAC News June, July, November, December 1964
20 LULAC News January, February, April, June, December 1965, January 1966
Box Folder
5 1 Local Council Membership Lists, Financial Reports, Correspondence
2 Carmen Cortes Correspondence, Clips
3 "Little School of the 400"
4 Ladies LULAC Houston: clips, correspondence, programs
5 LULAC Texas: correspondence, resolutions, convention program
6 LULAC California: Carmen Cortes correspondence
7 LULAC Illinois: Carmen Cortes correspondence
8 LULAC Indiana: Carmen Cortes correspondence
9 LULAC Minnesota: Carmen Cortes correspondence
10 LULAC New Mexico: New Mexico Boys School


Box Folder
5 11 YMCA (Houston) & Magnola Park Branch YMCA
12 Sociedad Mutualista Mexicana "Benito Juarez": 1924 Rule Book
13 Club Mexico Bello: souvenirs, programs, correspondence
14 Various Houston Hispanic Social Organizations: clips, souvenir programs
15 Houston Convention/Booster Material
16 Texas Gubernatorial Election Program
17 Texas Mexican American: clips
18 U.S. History Guide for Citizen Naturalization en EspaƱol
19 Kennedy Assassination - Houston Press
20 Reyes-Martinez Family: documents, papers, correspondence #1
21 Reyes-Martinez Family: documents, papers, correspondence #2
22 Cortes children: clippings, report cards, souvenirs, Jr. LULACs
23 Cortes Family: records, documents, clips (marriage, notary)
24 Pen & Ink Watercolor Minatures of Mexican Scenes by P. Navarro