By Edward Shore
Border Public History is an initiative of the History Department at the University of Texas-El Paso to preserve the public history of the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metropolitan area. Directed by Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva of the UTEP History Department, Border Public History fosters collaboration among historians and the general public to “recuperate collective memories of the border region that have been forgotten or silenced.” Public historians in the El Paso/Juarez metropolitan area have recovered rare photographs of Old Town El Paso; recorded and transcribed the oral histories of ex-Bracero workers; and published memoirs in English and Spanish that detail what everyday life was like before the drug wars and the fortification of the U.S.-Mexico Border.
Currently, Border Public History is dedicated to sharing stories about old El Paso neighborhoods like Duranguito and Chihuahuahuita that are excluded from top-down renditions of history and which are threatened by gentrification and urban renewal. In October 2016, the El Paso City Council approved a plan to construct a $180 million-dollar multi-purpose arena in the Union Plaza District that will displace many long-term residents of the downtown area. Click here to learn more about Border Public History and the efforts of local historians and the general public to preserve the historical memory of the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border.