[Mostly Florence and Tucson, Az. 1924-1926]. Approximately 315 letters and documents, mostly one-page typed letters, but a handful longer, and a small percentage handwritten. Mostly written in Spanish, with a significant portion written on AHA letterhead. Old folds, some paper stock tanned and somewhat brittle, occasional mostly minor chipping or fraying to edges. Good plus. Item #3494
A collection of documents pertaining to the Alianza Hispano-Americana (AHA), once one of the largest and most important "sociedades mutualistas" servicing the Mexican-American community in the American Southwest. The Alianza was founded in 1894 in Tucson, Arizona by three Hispanic men, but quickly fanned out across the Southwest over the next two decades, reaching Texas by 1906. The group assisted its membership from its founding until the 1960s, when budgetary woes forced the organization into receivership. During its peak in the 1930s, the organization numbered around 17,000 members. The great majority of the present letters and documents were written by A.A. Celaya, the Supreme Secretary of the AHA, who was based in Tucson, Arizona, and were sent to R.B. Aballo, to whom a great deal of the material is addressed, mostly from Celaya, but also other members of the Alianza. The material seems to have been retained by Mr. Aballo who was a "primer sindico supremo" of the Alianza Hispano-Americana living in Florence, Arizona. Some of the documents were first sent to other officials of the Alianza, such as the president of the group, Samuel Brown of Los Angeles, and then forwarded to Aballo.
The letters cover a myriad of issues relating to the activities and functioning of the AHA, including financial and legal matters, the organization's relationship with officials in Mexico, the scheduling of council meetings, requests for financial assistance from and other internal matters relating to the group's members (including numerous death notices), salary matters of the group's leadership, and so much more. Some of the business dealt with here relates to the organization's main office in Los Angeles. The documents include tax receipts, balance sheets, dues receipts, insurance forms, and other types of organizational matters. A handful of the documents relate to the Michea-Arballo Mercantile Company, of which R.B. Arballo or his wife seemed to have been a principal. One of the most interesting documents here is a folio-sized three-page document titled, "Proyecto. De Reformas a las Polizas de la 'Alianza Hispano-Americana,' y como Consecuencia, Quedaran Reformados en Concordancia, Todos los Articulos de sus Estatutos que Esten en Relacion con Dichas Reformas." This document, dated in October 1926, details ten proposed changes to the internal policies of the Alianza. In this document, the Alianza is described further as (in rough English translation) "a clearly fraternal and mutualist society, and the main benefit it offers to its members, the help to their families in the form of life policies in the event of death." As such, the Alianza was effectively a life insurance company for the Hispanic communities in the American Southwest, who were likely not well serviced by the white insurance companies of the time.
"Although AHA was set up to offer life insurance at low rates and provide social activities for Mexican Americans, one source suggests that it was initially organized in response to hostile attitudes against Mexican Americans in Tucson. Its goals were similar to those of other fraternal aid groups in the United States, which began to multiply in the late nineteenth century among European immigrants. When AHA was established, most United States citizens could not depend on government social security programs, labor unions, or commercial life insurance to provide economic assistance to a family upon the loss of the chief family provider, usually the father. Besides tendering such services, AHA, like other mutual-aid groups, also sought to preserve the culture of its constituents and taught its members democratic traditions, such as free speech, by involving them in organizational activities. Membership in AHA was limited to Mexican Americans who were committed to altruism toward their fellows, the work ethic, and good moral virtues; it did not offer membership to ex-convicts or individuals of African or Asian descent. However it joined forces with the NAACP in 1954 to fight discrimination and offered musician Louis Armstrong an honorary membership in 1957. Women were allowed to join AHA in 1913 as a response to the woman suffrage movement. Monthly dues subsidized the death-benefits package" - Handbook of Texas online.
A significant archive of letters and documents containing a wealth of organizational information on the AHA, providing a detailed snapshot of the workings of this prominent Mexican-American mutual aid society in Arizona during the years before the Great Depression.