Texas Originals

Jovita Idár

September 7, 1885–June 15, 1946

Journalist and activist Jovita Idár was born in Laredo in 1885. As a young woman, she abandoned a teaching career to write for her father's weekly newspaper, La Crónica. In her articles, Idár denounced the dismal social, educational, and economic conditions of Texas Mexicans.

In 1911, when the First Mexican Congress met to address civil rights in Texas, Idár and other women were active participants. Idár became the first president of the League of Mexican Women, an offshoot of the Congress. She mobilized League efforts to provide free education to poor children.

These efforts set the tone for the rest of Idár's life and work. As an educated Tejana, she felt duty-bound to promote civil rights—including women's rights—and education. "Educate a woman," Idár often said, "and you educate a family."

During the Mexican Revolution, Idár crossed the border to serve as a nurse in the White Cross, a group similar to the American Red Cross. When she returned to Laredo, she continued to write newspaper articles condemning racial prejudice and acts of violence against Mexicans and Tejanos.

In 1917, Idár and her husband moved north to San Antonio. She became active in politics, established a free kindergarten, and continued to write and promote social justice. Idár remained in San Antonio until her death in 1946.

For more about Jovita Idár

The Federico Idár and Idár Family Papers, 1879–1838, are held in the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin. They contain correspondence, photographs, printed materials, and artifacts that document the lives of the Idár family of Laredo and San Antonio.

Selected bibliography

Acosta, Teresa Palomo, and Ruthe Winegarten. Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.
Cotera, Martha P. Diosa Y Hembra: The History and Heritage of Chicanas in the U.S. Austin: Information Systems Development, 1976.
Gibson, Karen Bush. Jovita Idár. Bear, DE: Mitchell Lane, 2003 (for juvenile readers).
González, Gabriela. "Idar Juárez, Jovita (1885–1946)." In Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol, 336–337. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.
González, Gabriela. "Jovita Idár: The Ideological Origins of a Transnational Advocate for La Raza." In Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives, edited by Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Stephanie Cole, and Rebecca Sharpless. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015.
Jones, Nancy Baker. "Idár , Jovita." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed March 20, 1014. 
McArthur, Judith N., and Harold L. Smith. Texas Through Women's Eyes: The Twentieth-Century Experience. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.
Pouwels, Joel Bollinger. Political Journalism by Mexican Women During the Age of Revolution 1876–1940. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006.
Rogers, Mary Beth, Sherry A. Smith, and Janelle D. Scott. We Can Fly: Stories of Katherine Stinson and Other Gutsy Texas Women. Austin: Ellen C. Temple, 1983.

Listen to the audio

Detail from an image of Jovita Idár (middle) in the print shop of El Progreso, 1914. We Can Fly (Austin: Ellen C. Temple, 1983).