Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

By George J. Sánchez | Go to book overview

APPENDIX

On Sources

This study makes extensive use of naturalization records obtained from the regional branch of the National Archives, located in Laguna Niguel, California. Every Mexican who applied for naturalization in the Federal District Court of Los Angeles before January 1, 1940, was included in a computerized data set. These naturalization records offer extensive personal information about each of the 2,238 individuals who applied for naturalization and his or her family, including information regarding an applicant's migration pattern into the country. I utilized this information to identify the communities from which Mexican immigrants had migrated to Los Angeles, and the manner by which immigrants reached the city. Beginning in Chapter 6, I limited my sample to 1,740 families who listed an address in the city of Los Angeles or its surrounding adjacent unincorporated areas (especially Belvedere and Watts), in order to discuss developments in the city proper.

Many studies have concluded that Mexicans had one of the lowest rates of naturalization for any group in the United States during the twentieth century and, therefore, that the usefulness of naturalization records for studying the Mexican immigrant population may be questioned. 1 My research, however, indicates that these materials are much more valuable than previously believed. Previous studies of Chicanos in Los Angeles during this period have provided an understanding of the total population at any given time by utilizing census data, city directories, and marriage records. 2 I have tried to separate those Mexican immigrants who were in Los Angeles temporarily from those who at some point in their lives made a decision to remain permanently in the United States, in order to better understand the process of cultural adaptation. Naturalization records, therefore, seem a more appropriate vehicle for studying this subset of the total Chicano population than materials which survey the entire population. Since even most immigrants who remained in Los Angeles permanently did not choose to naturalize, however, my

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