Welcome to our Latinx research guide! This guide will introduce you to the history, traditions, and contemporary issues of Latinx communities in the United States. It’s designed to be a launchpad for exploring many different aspects of Latinx culture. Please use the following research tips and strategies to find and use the Latinx resources, books, articles, websites, and multimedia materials we've identified.

*This guide was made by Dr. Jessie Herrada Nance and Tori Stanek's WR 123 Research Writing class. The introduction was compiled by Christopher Kessell.

  • Where did the word “Latinx” come from? 🗣️💬  UC Berkeley researcher, Cristina Mora, explains the origin of the term, "Latinx," and how it connects to a larger conversation about culture and representation. Mora spoke to the difficulty of representing a diverse population with a single term, when she said “... it is nuts to think that they would hold true to just one category that would last the test the time. I think this is just a reflection of the dynamism that continues to happen and the ways that groups come to see themselves as their social-political environment evolves."
  • Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine, and Afro Latino are terms used to describe people of Latin American origin or descent, including countries such as Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and many others. Although some of our society uses these terms interchangeably, they have different historical and cultural origins, and their meanings can vary depending on context and individual preference.
    • Hispanic is a term created by the US government. The main determination for this identity is language. In general, Hispanic refers to Spanish-speaking people, including those from Spain and countries in Latin America. However, conflict arises in the identity of people from Latin American countries who don’t speak Spanish. For instance, the primary language of Brazil is Portuguese. 
    • Latino refers to people with cultural roots in Latin America, regardless of what language they speak. The main determination for this identity relies on the geographic tie to Latin America. However, Latino is a Spanish word. In Spanish, nouns are classified as either masculine or feminine. The presence of a gender binary is reflected in these terms, Latino (man) and Latina (woman). It's important to acknowledge this gender specificity while being aware of the diverse gender identities and expressions within the Latinx community.
    • Latinx & Latine both reject the gender binary of masculine/feminine to embrace gender neutrality. Latine is a more recent development that reflects a preference to use the "e" rather than "x" as a gender-neutral ending because it is easier to pronounce in speech. Both tend to be used in progressive and activist-leaning publications.
  • What’s the Difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx?: This short is clipped from a video by Antonio Campos. We get first-hand experience as Campos navigates, defining himself amongst Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, and many pan-ethnic terms. Ultimately, he identifies as a Mexican American Chicano. He explains how his family roots determine his choice.
  • Campos, Antonio. “What’s the Difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx?” University of California, 6 Oct. 2021. www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/choosing-the-right-word-hispanic-latino-and-latin
  • Mora, Christina G. "Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American.University of Chicago Press, 2014.

    How did Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Cubans become known as "Hispanics" and "Latinos" in the United States? How did several distinct cultures and nationalities become portrayed as one? Cristina Mora answers both these questions and details the scope of this phenomenon in Making Hispanics. She uses an organizational lens and traces how activists, bureaucrats, and media executives in the 1970s and '80s created a new identity category--and by doing so, permanently changed the racial and political landscape of the nation.
  • We Are Aztlan! Chicanx Histories on the Northern BorderlandsJerry GarciaPullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 2017.

    “Mexican Americans/Chicana/os/Chicanx form a majority of the overall Latino population in the United States. In this collection, established and emerging Chicanx researchers diverge from the discipline's traditional Southwest focus to offer academic and non-academic perspectives specifically on the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. Their multidisciplinary papers address colonialism, gender, history, immigration, labor, literature, sociology, education, and religion, setting El Movimiento (the Chicanx movement) and the Chicanx experience beyond customary scholarship and illuminating how Chicanxs have challenged racialization, marginalization, and isolation in the northern borderlands.”-- Provided by the publisher.

This guide works within an equity-minded framework to encourage social justice work. As the cultural landscapes of our communities constantly evolve, so does our language. We choose inclusive language to promote respect, understanding, and acceptance of diversity. Latinx is a language of identity designed to avoid marginalizing or excluding particular individuals or groups based on their characteristics, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, and more.

It’s easy to understand that, because we are all different, some may prefer the terms such as Mexican American or Chicana/o/x, or Hispanic. Ultimately, choosing identity is a personal part of human experience. Respecting those choices empowers everyone. 

Background Information

Topic is the broad subject area you will research. 

Before you start your research, you must develop some background knowledge. This may include facts, dates, and names of important people, places, or theories. It is important because:

  • Background sources give you the language that people are using to discuss your topic. You will use this language when you start to search databases for scholarly articles and resources on the topic.
  • "Pre-research" helps you narrow your topic to a research question. If your initial searches bring back too many results, you should consider narrowing your topic.
  • In the pre-research phase, you can start with general web or print sources. Once you have narrowed your topic to a question, you can turn your focus to the scholarly information you'll need for a more formal research process. 
  • Once you feel like you have a good grasp on your topic, you're ready to make the transition from topic to  research question!

“Pre-Research” Latinx Resources

  • National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC): The NALAC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and advancing Latinx arts and culture. Their website has research reports, artist profiles, and a directory of Latinx arts organizations.
  • Smithsonian Latino Center: The Smithsonian Latino Center is a division of the Smithsonian Institution that focuses on promoting Latinx art, history, and culture. Their website has various resources, including online exhibits, research reports, and educational materials. 
  • Latino Cultural Arts Center: The Latino Cultural Arts Center is a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C., that supports and promotes Latinx art and culture. Their website has information about events, exhibits, educational programs, and resources for artists and researchers.
  • Latino Studies Journal: The Latino Studies Journal is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes research on Latinx culture and society. It's a great source for in-depth research articles and analyses.
  • National Hispanic Cultural Center: The National Hispanic Cultural Center is a museum and cultural center in Albuquerque, New Mexico that showcases Latinx art, history, and culture. Their website has information about exhibits, events, educational programs, and online resources.
  • Hispanic Heritage Foundation: The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes cultural pride, achievement, and leadership among Latinx youth. Their website has various resources, including a blog, research reports, and educational materials.

Developing Your Research Question

Research questions help you determine the information you need to find about your topic. (Remember, topic refers to the broad subject area you will research). Your research question is specific aspect of your topic you want to learn more about.

A successful research question should:

  • be driven by your curiosity.
  • help you focus your search to find information that can be analyzed and that leads to insight.
  • answer a question or resolve an issue that is of significance to you and your audience.

Use the following table for guidance as you turn your topical background information into a focused research question:

Sources Category Example
Background Information  Topic Social movements among migrant workers
Secondary Sources Broad question How did migrant workers use social movements to resist marginalization?
Secondary Sources More specific question How did LatinX migrant farmers use social movements to resist constraints? 
Primary Sources Research question How did the social movements that resulted from the Valley Migrant League (VML) allow LatinX farmers to resist the constraints they faced based on citizenship status? 

Want more help? Use the Developing a Research Question guide from ASU Library.

Finding Information: Keywords!

Now that you've got your research question, you're ready to start your research:

1. Start by breaking your question down to pick out the core concepts:

  • Focus on nouns or phrases 
  • Avoid general terms like ‘discrimination’ that will get a lot of results that aren’t relevant to your topic

For example:

How did the social movements that resulted from the Valley Migrant League (VML) allow Latinx farmers to resist the discrimination they faced based on citizenship status

2. Identify related terms for each concept 

  • Some databases or search engines don’t include related terms
  • Use online searches or brainstorming to identify synonyms 

For example:

LatinX farmers: migrant workers, Latinx migrant workers, Latinx migrant farmers 

Valley Migrant League: (this is proper noun, so there are no synonyms. This is okay! If you use a proper noun and find it is too specific, you can expand your question to include broader contexts. For example, social movements will likely have more results than Valley Migrant League

Citizenship status: nationality, residency, citizenhood 

Other search tips:

  • Phrases can be added in quotation marks to keep the terms in the same order. 
    • For example, “migrant worker discrimination” would locate content with that specific phrase. This is a good way to filter out general uses of important terms that arise in your topic (like discrimination.) 

Keywords in Latinx Studies

Latinx Studies research requires that you pay critical attention to keywords.

People of Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese descent in the United States are not a monolith. Therefore, no one term will ever fully capture the diversity of identities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, and experiences which are grouped under terms like "Latinx," "Latine," Latino/a," "Hispanic," and "Hispanic-American." It is important to note the desire for one all-encompassing term to describe this diverse mix of people comes from academic and governmental impulses to label for groups, even when individuals do not use or prefer to describe themselves with those terms. 

Here are some essential keywords to keep in mind as you perform identity-related research:

Term Explanation Search TIps
Latino/a/@ Commonly used adjectives in books, book chapters, articles, and mass media that allow gender binaries of masculine (o), feminine (a) and masculine/feminine (@). Latino as an adjective reflects the acceptance of the -o ending in Spanish to describe a group of people that includes men, or as a default when gender is not specified. Latin@ is used to encompass masculine and feminine. Use a wildcard symbol like * to search for latin* or latin?s, depending on your database's preferences
Latinx, Latine Latinx and Latine both reject the gender binaries of masculine/feminine to embrace gender neutrality. Latine is a more recent development that reflects a preference to use the "e" rather than "x" as a gender-neutral ending because it is easier to pronounce in speech. Both tend to be used in progressive and activist-leaning publications, whether academic or popular/mass media. Either search Latin* with the wildcard, or use multiple terms (Latine OR Latinx) in your searches
Hispanic Key term to use when looking for books, since it is the standard Library of Congress subject heading used to catalog books about Latines in the United States. Learn more about LCSH from Wikipedia and how to use them to locate items
Chicano, Chicana,  Chicanx, Chicane Refers to Mexican-Americans, particularly in relation to activist movements of the 20th century.  
Afro-Latino, Afro-Latina, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Latine Terms used to describe people of African and Latin American descent. *This is not a Library of Congress subject heading.  
African-American, African-Americans Library of Congress subject headings that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines.  
Black, Blacks Library of Congress subject headings that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines.  
Puerto Rican, Puerto Ricans Commonly used across publications, including Library of Congress subject headings. Also try boricua, which may appear in titles and texts, but not subject headings.  

Mexican-American, Mexican Americans

Cuban-American, Cuban-Americans

Venezuelan-American, Venezuelan-Americans


Hyphenated nationalities are commonly used across publications and in Library of Congress subject headings (often without the hyphen) Search for both hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions by using ("Mexican Americans" OR "Mexican-Americans") in your search

Cubans -- United States

Mexicans -- United States

Venezuelans -- United States

Colombians -- United States


Try subject searches for nationality AND country when looking for academic resources. Combine parts of subject headings with AND to find materials with both terms

How to Search a Database

Check out our Finding Information tab on the library website for tips for searching databases!

Video Resources

  • HBO. "SERIES 15: A Quinceañera Story." CGCC Library, 2017.

    A q​​uinceañera is a coming-of-age celebration for a Latina's 15th birthday. It marks the transition from girl to woman. For many American Latina teenagers, this is an event that means even more; it allows them to embrace their chosen identities and honor their cultures, traditions, and families who have made sacrifices to provide a good life in the U.S. "A Quinceañera Story." is a series of fourr short films that follow five girls from different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. As the girls pick their dresses, prepare their courts and venues, practice intricate dance routines, they reflect on the struggles that led to their quinces and the hopes they have for the future. 
  • Latino Americans [Videorecording]: The 500-Year Legacy that shaped a Nation.

    "Latino Americans" chronicles the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have for the past 500-plus years helped shape what is today the United States. It is a story of people, politics, and culture, intersecting with much that is central to the history of the United States while also going to places where standard U.S. histories do not tend to tread.

Print Resources

  • Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States, Fernández-Armesto, Felipe.

    Maps the influence of America's Hispanic past, from the explorers and conquistadors who helped colonize Puerto Rico and Florida, to the missionaries and rancheros who settled in California and the 20th-century resurgence in major cities like Chicago and Miami. The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America's Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater. This narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain's first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain's expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of "Manifest Destiny" and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future, and here the author presents its Hispanic past. -- From book jacket.
  • Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, González, Juan.

    This book presents a history of Latinos in America, from the first colonies in the New World through today, and offers portraits of distinguished Americans of Hispanic descent that have played a key role in the evolving face of American life.
  • Latino Issues: A Reference Handbook, Saenz, Rogelio

    For high school and college students, scholars, and general readers, Saenz, who teaches sociology at Texas A&M U., College Station, and Murga, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the university, provide an overview of the Latina/o population in the US and their histories, modes of incorporation, lengths of residence in the country, and trajectories of integration, as well as their demographic, social, and economic characteristics and variations. They examine major issues facing the population in the US, especially immigration and education, and beyond the US, such as migration to Spain, Canada, and Japan and the conception of race in Latin America. 
  • Latin America: Regions and People, Kent, Robert B.

    This text provides an authoritative overview of Latin America's human geography as well as its regional complexity.
  • Mexico and Mexicans in the Making of the United States, Tutino, John.

    Mexico and Mexicans have been involved in every aspect of making the United States from colonial times until the present. Yet our shared history is a largely untold story, eclipsed by headlines about illegal immigration and the drug war. Placing Mexicans and Mexico in the center of American history, this volume elucidates how economic, social, and cultural legacies grounded in colonial New Spain shaped both Mexico and the United States, as well as how Mexican Americans have constructively participated in North American ways of production, politics, social relations, and cultural understandings.
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, Rosales, Francisco A.

    This is the companion volume to the critically acclaimed, four-part documentary series of the same title, which is now available on video following its national airing on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Aimed at a broad general audience as well as college and high school students, this milestone volume offers a rich, readable text and unique historical photographs to highlight individuals, issues and pivotal developments that culminated in and comprise a landmark period for the second largest ethnic minority in the United States.
  • Anti-Colonial Solidarity: Race, Reconciliation, and Mena Liberation, Fourlas, George.

    "Entangled in misrecognition, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) perceived people are socially and politically vulnerable throughout the colonized world. Anti-Colonial relational existence is possible through careful social labor, and cases of MENA communities prove that such normative praxis is not merely wishful thinking"

Web Resources

  • Garcia, Jerry. "Latinos in Oregon." Oregon Encyclopedia, 14 Oct. 2022.

    Garcia's linear framework presents a history of Latinos in Oregon from the 16th century to 2022. Garcia uses quantitative demographic data to track the numbers and explain periods of fluctuation. Along with demographics, the author provides concise details about the Latino culture intersection with the Oregon socio-cultural and political landscape.
  • "Hispanics/Latinos - Research and Data from the Pew Research Center." Pew Research Center.

    This research center provides Hispanic/Latinx-specific data from politics, identity, global migration, and demographics. The website utilizes multimodal media presentations including reports, data sheets, infographics, images, graphs, and charts.
  • Stephen, Lynn. "The Story of PCUN and the Farmworker Movement in Oregon." Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS), edited by PCUN, University of Oregon, June 2012.

    Stephen collaborated with PCUN staff and members of the University of Oregon's Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) to tell the history of the first farmworker union in Oregon: Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Tree Planters and Farmworkers United), or PCUN. This history sheds light on the progression of civil rights advocacy for farmworkers in Oregon and illustrates its connection to social issues faced by members of Latinx culture including immigration, racism, and inequalities in race, healthcare, housing, and gender. 
  • Turner-Trujillo, Emma, et al. "An Overview of Latino and Latin American Identity." Getty: Resources for Visual Art and Cultural Heritage, 13 Sept. 2017.

    Members of the curator team created a primer document for a Getty Museum exhibition showcasing Latin Mexican arts and culture. This text explores identity and language, and addresses questions that include "Where is Latin America?" "How is Hispanic defined?" and "Who is represented within this identity?"
  • Thurber, Maria. "Research Guides: Latinx Studies: Library of Congress Resources: Afro-Latinx Bibliography." Guides.loc.gov.

    This blog post was written by a public relations strategist in the Library of Congress' Office of Communications. It pays homage to some Afro-Latino contributions to American society, including Afro-Cuban musicians Mario Bauza, Puerto Rican historian Arturo Alfoso Schomburg, and Afro-Latino star Sammy Davis Junior.
  • Washington State University. "Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive." WSU Digital Libraries Collection, 2004.

    This archive provides a wealth of Mexican American historical data that is specific to the Pacific Northwest Columbia River Basin region. Researches can refine their searches and the site includes a guide to help use the search tool. With this archive, WSU intended to create "a database with thematic coherence that would engage online researchers in thinking more deeply about the significance of the rich primary resources available in museums, libraries and historical societies."