In From Out of the Shadows, historian Vicki L. Ruiz provides the first full study of Mexican-American women in the 20th century, in a narrative that is greatly enhanced by Ruiz's skillful use of interviews and personal stories, capturing a vivid sense of the Mexicana experience in the United States. For this new edition, Ruiz includes a preface that continues the story of the Mexicana experience in the United States, as well as the growth of the field of Latina history. The book begins with the first wave of Mexican women crossing the border from Mexico early in our century. She reveals that between 1910 and 1930, over one million Mexican men and women (perhaps as much as ten percent of Mexico's population) migrated "al otro lado." Ruiz illuminates attempts to Americanize the Mexicanas, especially by Protestant groups, whose efforts by and large failed; the women instead relied on their own community groups-mutualistas (mutual aid societies), parish organizations, auxiliaries, and labor unions-to help them assimilate.
We also read about the tensions that arose between generations, as the parents tried to rein in young daughters eager to adopt American ways-forbidding the use of makeup and insisting that teenage girls attend a dance, a movie, or even a church function with a chaperone, usually their mothers. Perhaps most important, the book highlights the various forms of political protest initiated by Mexican-American women, including civil rights activity and protests against the war in Vietnam. What emerges from the book finally is a portrait of a very distinctive culture in America, one that has slowly gathered strength in the last 95 years. From Out of the Shadows is an important addition to the largely undocumented history of Mexican-American women in our century.