Transcript of Jovita Gonzalez

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture, and education.

Born in 1904 on her grandparents' ranch in Roma, Texas, pioneering folklorist and educator Jovita González felt a deep commitment to the people and culture of South Texas.

While attending The University of Texas in Austin, González met J. Frank Dobie, who encouraged her to begin writing for folklore publications. She soon began traveling throughout Cameron, Starr, and Zapata counties, interviewing residents of the borderlands.

González carried a letter of introduction from San Antonio's archbishop and often knitted during her interviews, putting her subjects at ease. She captured the voices of ordinary Mexican Americans seeking to preserve their cultural traditions during a period of tumultuous change.

In 1930, the same year she received her master’s degree in history, González became the first Mexican American president of the Texas Folklore Society.

González was also a teacher. With her husband, she authored several sets of Spanish textbooks and helped establish the Spanish language program in Corpus Christi’s public schools.

Today, González's legacy includes two novels published after her death, Dew on the Thorn and Caballero. Discovered by scholars among her papers, these historical romances detail turbulent racial conflicts of the Texas-Mexico border. But they also highlight the focus of her life's work—documenting what she once described as "the beauty of faith, of lore and of tradition, amidst the sufferings of life."

More information about this Texas Original is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.