Julian Samora’s scholarly pursuits were wide and varied. As the website develops, some of Samora’s papers will be published here to give the reader a first-hand account of his work. What follows is an overview of some of the areas in which he focused.
In 1954, Samora worked in conjunction with one of the first teams in Medical Sociology, which was headed by Dr. Lyle Saunders at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver, Colorado. Saunders developed research to understand the sociological implications of the delivery of health care systems. Samora added to the research base by studying the effects of the Spanish speaking culture in the delivery of health services. Further, many concede that Samora gave the first undergraduate course in medical sociology in the United States.
Samora’s doctoral thesis in 1953 was entitled “Minority Leadership in a Bi-Cultural Community: An Analysis”. He researched the interaction between the majority Anglo political leadership and the minority Spanish speaking political leadership in a small town in Colorado. That project inaugurated a life-long interest in cultivating and valuing ethnic political leadership.
In collaboration with his graduate students, Jorge Bustamante and Gilberto Cardenas, Samora authored the first book length study of undocumented Mexican immigration into the United States. The book, “Los Mojados”, published in 1971, was produced through the U.S.-Mexico Border Studies Project at the University of Notre Dame, which was under Samora’s direction.
Working through Dr. Charles Loomis’ border studies network based at Michigan State University, Samora was one of the first scholars to explore academically the relationship between the people of Mexican origin living in the United States with the U.S.-Mexico border region. He was one of the first Mexican American scholars to live and work as a scholar in Latin America. He appreciated the multi-faceted and dynamic nature of the relationship between Mexican Americans with Mexico. And in addition, he strove to make the United States more aware of its complicated relationship with Mexico and her people.
Through his work on political leadership, Samora saw the importance of training people to move into majority leadership positions. In 1971, he established the Mexican American Graduate Studies Program, which facilitated the training of leaders. By sponsoring young people in their pursuit of a graduate degree, Samora enabled a new generation of scholars to work in leadership positions.
In 1968, Julian Samora, Ernesto Galarza, and Herman Gallegos formed the Southwest Council of La Raza, which later became the National Council of La Raza, the nations premier advocate for civil rights for Latinos. Samora supported the establishment of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, served on their board, and made available the most current research to help the fight against social injustice. Later he received a grant from the United States Civil Rights Commission to develop a report on Spanish speaking populations in the U.S.
Samora helped develop and establish Chicano Studies as a legitimate degreed field of study. He and Dr. Ernesto Galarza were instrumental in developing course materials for the budding field.
Notre Dame Press
With money from a grant from the Ford Foundation, Samora was able to develop a pioneering series of books in the field of Chicano Studies published by the Notre Dame Press. Such authors as Ernesto Galarza, Frances Swadish, Alfredo Mirende, and Mario Barrerra found a voice through the press.
Reviews by Julian Samora