1 Goltijinn

Americo Paredes Bibliography Generator

Américo Paredes (September 3, 1915 – May 5, 1999) was a Mexican-American author born in Brownsville, Texas who authored several texts focusing on the border life that existed between the United States and Mexico, particularly around the Rio Grande region of South Texas. His family on his father’s side, however, had been in the Americas since 1580. His ancestors were sefarditas, or Spanish Jews who had been converted to Christianity, and in 1749 - along with Escandon - they settled in the lower Rio Grande. The year of Paredes’ birth was the year of the last Texas Mexican Uprising, which was to portend the life Paredes was to lead. Throughout his long career as a journalist, folklorist and professor, Paredes was to bring focus to his Mexican American heritage, and the beauty of those traditions. [1]

Life and career[edit]

Growing up in Brownsville, Texas, Paredes was to experience the double life of American and Mexican culture.[2] Paredes was a lover both of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books and of Mexican poetry—his father composed décimas (a ten line poem with set rhyme scheme). This love of poetry was to hold Paredes in good stead when, at the age of 18, he won a poetry contest sponsored by Trinity College. This award was to gain him the attention of the high school principal, Mr. Irvine, who in turn, expedited his entrance into junior college in 1934. The same year Paredes entered college, an event that would mark his life occurred, the assassination of Cesar Augusto Sandino, about whom, five years later, Paredes would write “A Cesar Augusto Sandino.”

While in his second year of junior college, Paredes was also to write George Washington Gomez: A Mexico-Texan Novel. Although it was not published until 1990, George Washington Gomez[3] is Paredes' most well known work. The novel tells the story of a young man growing up in early 20th-century Jonesville on the River (a fictional city Paredes used to represent the city of Brownsville) and reveals the conflict in identity (as the title name suggests) the young man experiences growing up in an Anglo-Texan environment, particularly with regards to the educational system.

While in college, Paredes worked not only at the local grocery store (where he bought his first guitar from a co-worker), but also as a proofreader and reporter at The Brownsville Herald, a job he kept even after graduation in 1936. In 1940, as World War II began for the Americans, Paredes took a second job with Pan-American Airways overseeing the outfitting of airplanes with fifty-caliber machine guns. Simultaneously, he began playing guitar on the radio, a talent he had taught himself during junior college. As World War II heated up, Paredes was drafted into the army, but even there he was a journalist, reporting for the army publication Stars and Stripes, a publication which—while in Japan—allowed him to interview military leader Hideki Tōjō. Also in Japan, Paredes took correspondence courses from the University of Texas, through an army school, affectionately referred to as the Tokyo College. By 1950, Paredes had moved to Austin to pursue first his masters and then his Ph.D. When he returned to the United States, he brought with him his half-Japanese, half-Uruguayan wife Amelia Nagamine, whose visa issues almost stopped his education. By 1951, Paredes was teaching as a graduate student at the University of Texas and drawing attention. In 1952 he would win an award from the Dallas Times Herald for a collection of short stories he had selected from his larger work, The Hammon and The Beans. He called it Border Country. In 1955, he won an award of 500 dollars for his novel The Shadow, although this book would not be published until 1998.

In his graduate school years it would be a twist of fate that would lead Paredes down the road of folklore. While taking English courses during his masters, he encountered a test comparing two Scottish ballads, which Paredes was to compare to the Mexican corrido (a comparison that would crop up again in his dissertation of With His Pistol in His Hand). His professor at the time introduced him to Robert Stephenson, then a professor of English teaching folklore, who would persuade him to pursue a future in the field. In 1956, Paredes’ dissertation, which was to turn into his opus With His Pistol in His Hand,[4] published in 1958, told the story of the legendary Gregorio Cortez and his conflict with the Texas Rangers. The text portrayed the famed Texas Rangers in a negative fashion, which was unheard of in the history of that organization. There was a suggestion, jokingly perhaps, by some Texas Rangers that Paredes should be shot in retaliation for his blemishing of the reputation of the Texas Rangers in that book.[5]With His Pistol in His Hand was actually Paredes' dissertation and was published as a book by the University of Texas at Austin.,[6] garnered the attention of famous folklorist Stith Thompson, who was to recommend the work to the University of Texas Press for publication (this project however would not reach publication until 1958).

The same year With His Pistol in His Hand was published, Paredes was hired by University of Texas, Austin to teach, a decision which would change the face of their curriculum. In the 1960s and 70’s Americo Paredes was to join the Chicano movement along with Tomás Rivera and Miguel Méndez. During this same period he would also expand the educational curriculum of UT by founding their Center for Folklore Studies (1967). Paredes would continue on to found their Center for Mexican American Studies as well. In 1989 Paredes would become one of five men to be awarded the Charles Frankel Prize of the National Endowment for the Humanities and in 1991 (the same year his high school and young adult poetry Between Two Worlds would publish) he received the Orden del Aguila Azteca along with Cesar Chavez and Julian Samora.

In 1970, his Folktales of Mexico was published as part of the Folktales of the World series.

On May 5, 1999 Americo Paredes died in Austin, Texas.

Paredes has the distinction of being one of the few scholars "to ever have a corrido...composed in his honor".[7]


  • 1937 Cantos de adolescencia
  • 1958 With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero
  • 1966 Folk Music of Mexico. Book for the Guitar No. 671
  • 1970 Folktales of Mexico
  • 1976 A Texas-Mexican Cancionero: Folksongs of the Lower Border
  • 1990 George Washington Gomez: A Mexico-Texan Novel
  • 1991 Between Two Worlds
  • 1993 Uncle Remus con chile
  • 1993 Folklore and Culture on the Texas-Mexican Border
  • 1994 The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories
  • 1998 The Shadow


Further reading[edit]

  • Crimm, Carolina Castillo (2013). "Americo Paredes". In Cox, Patrick L.; Hendrickson, Kenneth E., Jr. Writing the Story of Texas. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292748752. 

PAREDES, AMÉRICO (1915–1999). Américo Paredes, musician, scholar, and folklorist, was born on September 3, 1915, in Brownsville, Texas. Born to Justo Paredes, a rancher, and Clotilde Manzano-Vidal, he was named Américo by his mother after the Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, as "the result of a promise to an aunt and her Italian sailor husband."

Growing up bilingual, Paredes had an ear for the cadences and rhythms of both Spanish and English, whether written, spoken, or sung. As a youngster, he wrote poetry, played guitar, and sang occasionally. He was educated in the Brownsville school system and graduated from high school in 1934. That same year, he began working at the Brownsville Herald, first as a cub reporter and later as a proofreader in both Spanish and English, earning $11.40 per week. In 1936 Paredes completed his associate's degree from Brownsville Junior College (now Texas Southmost College in partnership with the University of Texas at Brownsville), and two years later he began to publish poetry in San Antonio's Spanish-language newspaper, La Prensa. In 1937 he published his first book, a volume of poetry entitled Cantos de adolescencia. While hosting a radio program in Brownsville in 1939, Paredes invited locally-known singer, Chelo Silva (who later became known as "La Reina de los Boleros") to perform. They later married but divorced when the couple drifted apart during Paredes's tour of duty in the United States Army. They had a son.

In 1940 Paredes went to work for Pan American Airways as a civilian war worker. In 1941, however, he had enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to the Pacific Theater, where the army made use of his literary skills, assigning him to write and edit Stars and Stripes. After the war, he covered the Japanese war crimes trials. He also edited Armed Forces magazine. While stationed in Japan, he met and married Amelia Nagamine on May 28, 1948.

Paredes returned to the United States in 1950 and also returned to college, this time enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin. By 1956 he had completed a bachelor's (1951, summa cum laude), a master's (1953), and a doctorate (1956) degree. He was the first Mexican-American to receive a Ph.D. at the University of Texas. After acquiring his doctorate, he accepted a teaching job at the University of Texas at El Paso, and within a year he was offered a tenure-track professorship at UT Austin. He was first appointed to the Department of English, but in 1969 he accepted an additional appointment in the Department of Anthropology. As a teacher, he often integrated music into his classroom. Rather than sticking to the standard lecture format, he often played his guitar and sang in class.

In 1958 the University of Texas Press published his dissertation as a book, With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero. The subject was Gregorio Cortez Lira (or simply known as Gregorio Cortez), a Tejano hero of a well-known border corrido. The book garnered immediate acclaim for Paredes and helped to establish his reputation as a folklorist.

Beginning in 1958, Paredes published a series of articles on the musical form of the corrido. Although the corrido was long thought to be of solely Mexican invention, Paredes demonstrated that, in fact, the corrido originated along the Texas-Mexican border. The earliest extant corrido, "El Corrido de Kiansis" ("The Ballad of Kansas") actually originated in Texas. Its subject is ostensibly a cattle drive, but the corrido also subtly explores the relationship between Anglo and Mexican cowboys.

Paredes's early work as a poet and novelist helped to spark the Chicano literary movement, influencing writers such as Tomás Rivera and Rolando Hinojosa-Smith. Paredes published a number of important books and articles, including Folktales of Mexico (1970), and A Texas Mexican Cancionero: Folksongs of the Lower Border (1976). His later works included George Washington Gómez: A Mexicotexan Novel (1990), a novel he had actually written years earlier as a reporter, and Between Two Worlds (1991), which influenced another generation of Mexican-American writers.

Paredes was also an activist. As a professor, he pushed for the founding of the Center for Intercultural Studies of Folklore and Ethnomusicology in 1967. He lobbied for and in 1970, along with George I. Sánchez, cofounded UT Austin's Center for Mexican-American Studies. Once the center was created, Paredes continued to promote and bring mainstream acceptance to the field of Mexican-American Studies. Through his teaching and writing, he challenged the portrayal of Mexican Americans' role in Texas history by authors such as Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank Dobie.

Music and folklore were intertwined in Paredes's career as both a scholar and teacher. As a scholar, he collected stories and jokes from the Texas-Mexico border and from northern Mexico, and he trained generations of folklorists in UT's Anthropology and English departments. In recognition of his contributions to folklore, literature, and cultural studies, he received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 and the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1989. In 1990 Paredes received the Orden del Aguila Azteca, Mexico's highest honor given to citizens of other countries. In 1998 the Austin Independent School District invited him to break ground for the Américo Paredes Middle School, named in his honor.

Paredes died of pneumonia at the age of eighty-three on May 5, 1999, in Austin, Texas. His wife Amelia died later that year. They were survived by Américo Paredes, Jr., (his son with Chelo Silva) and by their three children: Alan, Vicente, and Julia. In 2008 Américo Paredes was an inaugural inductee into the Austin Music Memorial.

Clarissa E. Hinojosa and Juan Carlos Rodríguez


Richard Chabrán and Rafael Chabrán, eds., The Latino Encyclopedia (New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1996). Nicolás Kanellos, ed., The Hispanic-American Almanac: A Reference Work on Hispanics in the United States (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1993). Matt S. Meier, Conchita Franco Serri, and Richard A. Garcia, Notable Latino Americans: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997). New York Times, May 7, 1999. Américo Paredes Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin. Amy L. Unterburger and Jane L. Delgado, eds., Who's Who Among Hispanic Americans (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1994–95).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Clarissa E. Hinojosa and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, "Paredes, Americo," accessed March 10, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpa94.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 17, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *