Albion Printing Press
The press here created small documents. Following the Mexican American War, presses like this became increasingly available in Latino communities in the U.S. West. Since then, Latinas and Latinos across the United States have been telling their own stories by using print and later digital technologies to set the record straight.
Latino newspapers, novels, autobiographies, and other printed works bring fresh perspectives to U.S. history. Before today’s age of digital communication, printing presses were used to share words and images with large audiences.
In the 1800s, Latina and Latino writers began publishing their stories, reports, and ideas in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and other U.S. cities. During this period, most writers and publishers were Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Chilean, among others. The earliest Spanish language newspapers in the United States include El Misisipi, printed in New Orleans between 1808–1810 and El Habanero, printed in Philadelphia and then New York City between 1824–1826. Newspapers published by Chileans in San Francisco in the late 1800s give testament to largely unknown experiences of the thousands of chilena and chileno migrants who stayed in California following the Gold Rush (1848–1855). After facing racism and mob violence, about half of their original number, mostly miners, returned to Chile. Their newspapers demonstrate the historical diversity of the U.S. Latino experience.
Since the 1800s, Latina and Latino journalists, writers, and artists have struggled to make their communities visible and their perspectives heard, especially within English language media. Their work combats many of the anti-Latino stereotypes that circulate in U.S. culture. The earliest of these stereotypes are anti-Mexican, appearing in widely read adventure novels that became popular after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848). By the end of the century, authors like María Amparo Ruiz de Burton wrote books like The Squatter and the Don in English to tell the story of the Mexican American War from the viewpoint of California’s land-owning Mexicans, called Californios. At the same time, Cuban and Puerto Rican political exiles began moving increasingly to U.S. cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Key West. Their newspapers advocated for their islands’ independence from Spain and discussed topics such as racial equality and democracy that are still relevant to today. One of Latin American’s best known political thinkers, the Cuban writer José Martí, founded the newspaper “Patria” in New York City, which was published between 1892–1898. Few in this generation of Cuban and Puerto Rican writers expected the Spanish American War, which led to conditional independence for Cuba and the annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States.