TABLE OF CONTENTS
Teresa Palomo Acosta Papers
Teresa Palomo Acosta was born in McGregor, Texas, on March 9, 1949. Her parents, Sabina Palomo Acosta and Andres Alderete Acosta, both came from families of Mexican migrant workers who settled in Central Texas in the 1930s. Acosta is the youngest of four children with two older brothers, Andres and Jesus ("Jesse"), and one older sister, Olivia. In 1974, Acosta graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in ethnic studies. In 1977, she received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Acosta has had a lengthy career as a writer of poetry and fiction. Her first published work, a poem entitled "My Mother Pieced Quilts," appeared in the 1976 anthology Festival de Flor y Canto: An Anthology of Chicano Literature printed by the University of Southern California Press. This poem is among Acosta's most notable works and has been anthologized and republished in secondary school textbooks, bringing her national recognition. Her work takes inspiration from her personal experience as a Mexican American woman from Texas. Throughout her work, as in "My Mother Pieced Quilts," Acosta elevates the domestic Mexican American woman, highlighting a group that has generally been underrepresented in literature and poetry.
Acosta also addresses her cultural heritage and identity through her work as a historian. In this capacity, she coauthored the 2003 book Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History with Ruthe Winegarten, an American author, activist, and historian from Dallas, Texas. Las Tejanas focuses on the previously uncelebrated contributions of Mexican American women to Texas history and was the winner of the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award in 2004.
Acosta has lived and worked in Austin since the late 1970s, and her work in academia shares similar themes with her writing, promoting the narratives and histories of underrepresented groups. She began her career with a seven year tenure from 1977 to 1984 at St. Edwards University, lecturing in the Departments of English and Liberal Arts. Following her time at St. Edwards, Acosta served as the Director of Student Retention Services for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, working to implement the state's first African American and Mexican American student access and retention initiatives among public higher education institutions.
As a Research Associate and Conference Coordinator with the Texas State Historical Association, Acosta organized the Mexican Americans in Texas History conference in 1991. It featured presentations of papers by scholars of Mexican American Studies, eleven of which were published as a book (also titled Mexican Americans in Texas History) in 2000.
From 1993 to 1994 Acosta worked as a Special Assistant to the President of The University of Texas. In 1994 she authored a report for the Office of the Vice President for Development and University Relations which aimed to improve community links and relations between the university and it's Mexican American and Latino constituents. This was done in part to investigate low enrollment numbers of Hispanic students. In interviews conducted for the report, the Austin Latino community expressed concern that the university was inadequately meeting the needs of minority students, often describing the university as an "elitist" institution. Acosta recommended in the report that UT establish a community relations unit to address this issue. The report received subsequent attention from the local press, UT faculty, and community members with some in support and others in denial of Acosta's findings.
In 1991, Acosta began lecturing at The University of Texas in the department of Mexican American Studies. Her class was entitled "Ethnicity and Gender: La Chicana" and focused on the history, sociology, and culture of women of Mexican descent in the United States. She taught this course until 1994 and again from 1996 through 1997. Returning to the same department in 1999, Acosta taught a general writing seminar in Mexican American Studies, and in 2003 she taught a creative writing seminar entitled "Writing the Tejana Narrative."
In addition to her professional and writing career, Acosta has also worked in the Austin community as a Tejana historian and a mentor to young students. After Ruthe Winegarten's death in 2004, Acosta co-founded the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation for Texas Women's History in 2006 and served as its vice president from 2007 to 2013. The foundation is a nonprofit that seeks to encourage the study of women in Texas history. Acosta has also served as a youth mentor and an advocate for literacy development among K-12 students. She was a literacy educator in the Austin Independent School District from 2001-2002 and a K-12 student programs coordinator for the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) with office space in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History from 2005-2007. From 2005-2007, she also served as an assistant editor at the Texas Historian which publishes the work of secondary students.
This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Teresa Palomo Acosta, Tejana poet, author, historian, editor, lecturer, and activist. The materials document her writing, both creatively and as a historian; her work in academia as a lecturer, assistant to the president of the University of Texas, and conference coordinator; as well as her work in the Tejana and Austin community through the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation and as a mentor to youths. Acosta's family history, which greatly influenced her writing, is also represented through photographs dating to the 1930's and other materials regarding her parents, Sabina Palomo Acosta and Andres Alderete Acosta, and other family members. The collection is arranged in five series: Personal Materials, Written Works and Related Materials, Academic Materials, Audiovisual Materials, and Oversize Materials.
Personal Materials is arranged in four subseries. The Biographical Materials subseries includes Acosta's birth certificate, a written profile about her and her family by Suzanne Labry for the website quilts.com in 2014, and documentation of her professional career via her resume and CV. The Family Materials subseries focuses on Acosta's family, especially her parents. There are obituaries for her father who died in 1997, her mother who died in 2006, and her brother Jesse who died in 2014. Also included are items and papers Acosta may have kept for sentimental reasons, including doilies hand-made by her mother and a poetry chapbook Acosta inscribed to her parents in 1984 but noted that she "took back" after her mother's death. Also included is a 2014 article written about Acosta's poem "My Mother Pieced Quilts." The article describes how Acosta's parents met as migrant workers in Texas. The Community Involvement subseries contains materials from 1999-2008 including a booklet written by Acosta for a literacy program for girls, materials related to the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation, and certificates Acosta received for her work in her community. Correspondence and Other Personal Materials contains materials from 1994-2008, including signed books given to Acosta from Jorge Antonio Renaud and Celeste Guzman Mendoza, two Latino/a writers from Texas, as well as some personal correspondence with Renaud, a saved obituary for Mauricia Urquieta, and a sketch by Acosta.
Written Works and Related Materials contains manuscripts and published copies of creative works written by Acosta from 1984-2012. These materials have been separated into subseries based on genre: Poetry, Las Tejanas, Children's Books, Plays, and Short Stories and Other Writing. Those subseries are arranged in order of volume, with Poetry containing the most materials, and files are arranged chronologically within subseries. The subseries Las Tejanas contains a copy of the book signed by coauthor Ruthe Winegarten, as well as the award the authors won in 2004, an artwork release, an assignment of royalties letter, and a review in the New Mexico Historical Review. A fifth subseries of Correspondence and Other Materials Regarding Acosta's Written Works contains materials from 1994-2001 that reflect the life of Acosta's works after publication and responses to her works. This subseries includes correspondence regarding her work and its republication, thank you notes from readers, and a dissertation written about Acosta's work, among other materials.
Academic Materials contains materials relating to Acosta's professional career in academia. It is separated into three subseries. Academic Papers and Programs contains items related to events Acosta attended or participated in from 1974 to 2015, including papers and speeches she presented along with her speaking notes, event programs, and more. Mexican Americans in Texas History Conference features event materials and sixteen papers presented at the 1991 conference which Acosta organized as Research Associate and Conference Coordinator with the Texas State Historical Association. Academic Writing and Editing focuses on Acosta's professional writings and work as an editor of TX Historian and the New Handbook of Texas. Lastly, The University of Texas at Austin subseries contains materials from Acosta's 1993-1994 years working as a lecturer and as an assistant to the President of UT; included is the 1994 report she compiled on the university's relationship to Latino and Mexican American communities and materials regarding the public and university's reaction to that report.
Audiovisual Materials is organized by genre. Photographs and Negatives contains mostly family photographs which date to the 1930's and accompanying typed inventories. The presence of the inventories and other documents such as a funeral notice, indicate that these materials may all have originally been part of a photograph album.The Compact Discs (CDs) and Audio Cassettes sub-series span multiple facets of Acosta's life and work, including family photos on CD, illustrations for her children's book, Colchas, Colchitas, a PowerPoint for the Las Tejanas Symposium, and audio of guest appearances on the radio program Latino USA.
The Oversize Materials series includes an oversized photograph with biography for Acosta that was used for an exhibit, posters for a Las Tejanas symposium and Noche de Cuentos, as well as two copies of Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA).
Advance notice is required to access audio visual material from Box 4. Other material is unrestricted.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Teresa Palomo Acosta Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Accession numbers: 1996-27, 1998-03, 2009-05, 2011-04
Collection processed by Rodrigo Leal and Rachael Zipperer (UT School of Information interns), Fall 2017.
Further materials are expected for this collection.