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Mapping the Chicana/o Movement in the American Heartland

Published onOct 06, 2020
Mapping the Chicana/o Movement in the American Heartland

Interactive timeline from the website Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space, http://


Joel Zapata, Oregon State University (Principal Investigator). Follow on Twitter @xicanohistorian

Project URL

Project Abstract

Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains Through Time and Space is a public-facing digital history project displayed at The project features an interactive map and timeline along with a collection of materials that detail the 1960s and 1970s Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement in the Southern Great Plains.

Imagery and text tell the history of the Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement on the website Chicano Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space, Nephtalí De León’s La Virgen de Guadaliberty appears here with permission of the artist.

Time Needed

When did you begin this project? When did you complete this project?

Time Span: November 2016 - November 2019

Length: 3 years


What is the outcome of the project?

The project operates as a platform through which both scholars and the wider public can find an interactive map and timeline along with an online collection of materials regarding the Southern Plains Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement. The interactive map and timeline demonstrate when and why the Chicana/o Movement emerged in the Southern Plains. The earliest events that are clearly part of the movement were student-led and aimed at attaining educational equity. However, the digital history project reveals that instances of police brutality were the principal events that spurred the Plains Chicana/o Movement. Overall, the project shows that the Southern Plains were home to a burgeoning wing of the Chicana/o Movement. Moreover, the region’s portion of the Chicana/o Movement elucidates how it emerged across the country, forming a national social justice movement.

Interactive timeline of the Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement on the website Chicano Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space, Visitors can click directly on the events to get a description, or they can study the chronological list of events on the right side of the page or the interactive timeline on the bottom of the page.

Interactive timeline at the city level, featuring the fatal police killing of Ernesto Nerios in Lubbock, on the website Chicano Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space,

Interactive timeline featuring the Midland-Odessa area and the police brutality protest of 1978, on the website Chicano Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space,


What tools, resources, programs, or equipment did you use for this project?

The project was constructed through Omeka and Neatline. Additional utilized tools included Palladio.


Please describe any costs incurred for this project, and (if relevant) how you secured funding for these costs.

An Interdisciplinary Fellowship in the Digital Humanities of Southern Methodist University’s Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute funded the construction of Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space. The Texas State Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association, as well as Southern Methodist University’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies funded the archival research that enabled the project.

The continual cost of the project includes the price of hosting services.


Please give an overview of the workflow or process you followed to execute this project, including time estimates where possible.

The first step was conducting three years of archival research (2013-2015). From both traditional close reading and digitally enabled distant reading, I compiled a list of seminal Chicana/o Movement related events within a spreadsheet. From there, I began a collection of materials (photos, maps, and more) regarding these events. I then utilized Omeka to take this collection online and to annotate each item. With the Neatline plugin, I connected the materials to a layered map and timeline deriving from the already completed spreadsheet of Chicana/o Movement events. The result was a complex interactive map and timeline through which visitors can explore the events that together compose the Southern Plains portion of the Chicana/o Movement.

Challenges & Opportunities

What, if anything, changed between beginning your project and its current/final form?

Neatline did not have any updates for a substantial time. However, Neatline for Omeka S is in development. This project will take advantage of the update.

Is there anything specific you wish you had known when beginning your project that might help other people to know?

Thinking about long-term sustainability will aid in planning for funding and development.

Next Steps

Do you have any plans to follow up on this project or work on something similar in the future?

The project will expand to include additional rural and urban areas of West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, Southeastern Colorado, and Southwest Kansas as research on the Great Plains Chicana/o Movement grows.

Publications & Presentations

Peer-reviewed academic publication:

Zapata, J. (2018). “Taking Chicana/o Activist History to the Public: Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains through Time and Space.” Great Plains Quarterly 38 (4), 407-424. doi:10.1353/gpq.2018.0062.

  • Frederick C. Luebke Award for outstanding regional scholarship, given to the best article published in the Great Plains Quarterly in 2018.

Professional blog article:

Zapata, J. 2017. “Digitally Mapping and Exhibiting the Plains’ Chicana/o Movement.” The Future of the Past. August 30.

Invited Presentations:

University of Texas Library’s Day of DH, Austin, Texas, October 21, 2020

Annual Conference of the Western History Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 17, 2019

Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, September 18, 2019

St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, October 21, 2018

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