Breaking Barriers: Hispanic Americans in Congress

Explore these sample topics of Hispanic Americans breaking barriers in Congress. For more, visit the Hispanic Americans in Congress exhibition.

Featured Topics

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Latina in Congress when she won a special election and produced campaign materials in both English and Spanish. Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Latina in Congress when she won a special election and produced campaign materials in both English and Spanish.

Language Barriers

"Strength in Numbers, Challenges in Diversity, 1977–2012: Legislative Interests"
An essay covering the legislative efforts of Hispanic-American Members, including bilingual education.

Gained in Translation
A blog examining moments when Spanish was used on the House Floor.

Political Poems
Three 19th century poems, originally published in Spanish, that address the political status of territories and elected officials.

"Enviemos La De Más Experiencia Al Congreso" Campaign Mailer
Campaign literature, produced in both Spanish and English, for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The Creation and Evolution of the National Hispanic Heritage Celebration
A historical highlight explaining the creation of National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968.

Federico Degetau was the first Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner. Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration Federico Degetau was the first Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner.

Resident Commissioner Position

“Foreign in a Domestic Sense, 1898–1945: Crafting an Identity, The Office of the Resident Commissioner”
An essay exploring the creation of the Resident Commissioner position for Puerto Rico.

Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrínaga of Puerto Rico
A historical highlight about Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrínaga.

Getting a Foot in the (Chamber) Door
A blog describing Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Federico Degetau fight for House Floor privileges.

Oral History: Jennice Fuentes
Jennice Fuentes spent the first part of her House career as a caseworker in the Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner’s office. She discusses the difficulties Resident Commissioners face and their strategies to overcome those obstacles.

Joseph Hernández was the first Hispanic Member of Congress and the first Territorial Delegate to represent Florida. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Joseph Hernández was the first Hispanic Member of Congress and the first Territorial Delegate to represent Florida.

Featured U.S. Representatives and Delegates

Joseph Marion Hernández of Florida
Delegate Hernández was the first Hispanic Delegate and the first territorial Delegate to represent Florida.

Romualdo Pacheco of California
Representative Pacheco was the first Hispanic-American Representative.

Henry B. González of Texas
Representative González was the longest-serving Hispanic Member in Congress.

Ben Blaz of Guam
Delegate Blaz was the second Delegate to represent Guam in Congress.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida
Representative Ros-Lehtinen was the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.

Featured Objects and Records

Representative Romualdo Pacheco of California
<i>Representative Romualdo Pacheco of California</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_pacheco-portrait.xml
Romualdo Pacheco is depicted in the Capitol meeting room where he presided over the Private Land Claims Committee from 1881 to 1883. Read more about this object.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida Baseball Card
<i>Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida Baseball Card</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_ros-lehtinen-card.xml
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and two of her colleagues became the first women to break into the starting lineup for the Congressional Baseball Game in 1993. Read more about this object.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Henry B. González of Texas Tab
<i>Representative Henry B. González of Texas Tab</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_gonzalez-pin.xml
Henry González invoked the symbol of the Democratic Party on this metal tab, which would be folded in half and hooked onto the wearer’s clothing. Read more about this object.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Election Credentials of Representative Romualdo Pacheco of California
<i>Election Credentials of Representative Romualdo Pacheco of California</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_pacheco-certificate.xml
This certificate, signed by the California Governor on November 10, 1879, verified Pacheco’s second election to the House for the 46th Congress. Read more about this record.
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration