Portrait of Jovita González, 1931. E. E. Mireles and Jovita González Mireles Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Mexican American Folklorist, Educator, and Writer
Jovita González Mireles
Jovita González Mireles was born in 1904 on her grandparents’ ranch in Roma, Texas. A pioneering folklorist, educator, and writer, Jovita felt a deep commitment to the people and culture of South Texas. In 1910, her family moved to San Antonio, where she received an English education and completed her BA with a teaching certificate in history and Spanish from Our Lady of the Lake College. She taught Spanish at Saint Mary’s Hall before attending the University of Texas at Austin, as one of the first Mexican American women to do so. In 1925, at the university, she met J. Frank Dobie, who encouraged her to begin writing for folklore publications. She soon began traveling throughout the region interviewing border residents for her master’s thesis, “Social Life in Cameron, Starr, and Zapata Counties.” She received her MA in history in 1930.
Jovita González served as vice president of the Texas Folklore Society in 1928, and as president of the Society for two terms, from 1930 to 1932. She received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1934–35 to conduct research in South Texas, and she wrote during this year about the ranching customs that were fast declining with modernization. She published essays in the Texas Folklore Society publications edited by Dobie. Her publications halted shortly after she married E. E. Mireles in 1935. However, recovery efforts over the last two decades have shed light on her unpublished literary accomplishments. This body of work now forms the core of criticism on Mexican American women writers, southwestern ethnography, and 20th-century regional and ethnic American literature. Significant works, including some published after her death:
The Folklore of the Texan Mexican Vaquero (1927)
González, Jovita, and Eve Raleigh. Caballero: A Historical Novel, edited by José E. Limon and Maria Cotera (1996)
Dew on the Thorn, edited by José E. Limón (1997)