The traditional center of Wichita’s Hispanic population now has a photographic history of its own.
“Mexican Americans of Wichita’s North End” was published earlier this year by Arcadia Publishing and has been selling briskly.
The book is a collaboration between Anita Mendoza, a real estate agent who grew up in the North End; Jay Price, history professor at Wichita State University; and Jose Enrique Navarro, who teaches Spanish at the school. But Mendoza emphasized that many present and past residents of the area contributed to the 128-page book, which includes 200 black-and-white images.
“Most of it was reaching out to the community for their photos and stories,” she said.
Mendoza said the book grew out of her taking a class from Price in an effort to trace her family’s history in the area, which began with the arrival of her grandfather in 1916. Price has written or co-authored several books of local history.
The authors learned much about the area during the process. “I didn’t realize that the Mexican independence festivals (here) dated so far back, to the 1920s,” Mendoza said. “Finding those articles in the Wichita Eagle and finding pictures of the ladies who won queen, that was so interesting.”
While the area has always had a strong Hispanic presence, Mendoza noted that it “wasn’t always predominantly Hispanic, and now it is. There was always a mixture of cultures — African Americans and Asians. To me, it’s just an ever-evolving, ever-changing neighborhood. And it’s changing again. They’ve got some new generations taking over the restaurants and businesses.”
Mendoza also started the North End Wichita Historical Society Facebook page, which members regularly update with photographs and memories.
The book is available at local retailers and can also be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.