Dennis Brown, Notre Dame Public Relations Department
February 5, 1996
Word has been received of the death of Julian Samora, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Notre Dame and a preeminent scholar in the field of Mexican-American studies. He died Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., at age 75.
A specialist in discrimination, civil rights, public health and rural poverty, Samora taught at Notre Dame from 1959 until his retirement in 1985. He chaired the Department of Sociology from 1963-66.
Samora cofounded the National Council of La Raza, one of the nation’s leading Hispanic organizations, and served on numerous governmental and private boards and commissions, including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the President’s Commission on Rural Poverty. At Notre Dame, he directed the Mexican Border Studies Project sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
Samora’s numerous books and publications include “La Raza: Forgotten Americans and Mexican-Americans” (1966), “Los Mojados: The Wetback Story” (1971), “A History of the Mexican-American People” (1977), and “Gunpowder Justice: A Reassessment of the Texas Rangers” (1979), all published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Among the many honors bestowed upon him were the White House Hispanic Heritage Award in 1985 and the Aguila Azteca (Aztec Eagle) Medal in 1991 from the government of Mexico.
Born in Pagosa Springs, Colo., on March 1, 1920, Samora earned a bachelor’s degree from Adams State College of Colorado in 1942 and a master’s degree from Colorado State University in 1947. He received his doctorate in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1952.
Prior to joining the Notre Dame faculty, Samora taught at Adams State College, the University of Wisconsin, Washington University, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Michigan State University. The Julian Samora Research Institute was established at Michigan State in 1989 and carries on his work by undertaking research of relevance to the Hispanic community.
Samora is survived by three sons, Geoffrey of South Bend, Ind.; David of Santa Fe, N.M.; and John of Phoenix; and a daughter, Carmen, with whom he lived in recent years in Albuquerque, N.M.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Julian Samora Scholarship Fund established in his honor at Michigan State University.
A memorial service at Notre Dame is tentatively scheduled for April 13.