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IDAR, JOVITA

IDAR, JOVITA (1885–1946). Jovita Idar, teacher, journalist, and political activist, was born in Laredo in 1885, one of eight children of Jovita and Nicasio Idar. She attended the Holding Institute (a Methodist school) in Laredo, from which she earned a teaching certificate in 1903. She then taught at a small school in Ojuelos. Inadequate equipment and poor conditions, as well as her inability to improve them, frustrated her, so she resigned and joined two of her brothers as writers for her father's weekly newspaper, La Crónica.

In 1910 and 1911 La Crónica was vocal in criticizing certain aspects of Hispanic-Anglo relations. It featured stories on educational and social discrimination against Mexican-Americansqv, deteriorating economic conditions, decreasing use of the Spanish language, the loss of Mexican culture, and lynchings of Hispanics. The newspaper also supported efforts of the revolutionary forces in Mexico. In 1911 La Crónica called a convention of the Orden Caballeros de Honor, a fraternal order, to discuss the troubling issues of the times. In September 1911 Jovita Idar joined lodge members and others at Laredo in the First Mexican Congress to discuss educational, social, labor, and economic matters. Women participated as speakers and participants; for some it was the first political meeting. This congress has been called the first attempt in Mexican-American history to organize a militant feminist social movement. One outcome of the congress was the formation in October 1911 of the League of Mexican Women. Jovita Idar became its first president and organized its principal effort, to provide education for poor children.

In 1913 during the Mexican Revolution battle of Nuevo Laredo, Idar and a friend, Leonor Villegas de Magnon, crossed the border to care for the injured. Idar later joined La Cruz Blanca, a medical group similar to the Red Cross, and traveled in northern Mexico with revolutionary forces as a nurse. When she returned to Laredo later that year she joined the staff of the newspaper El Progreso and soon offended the United States Army and Texas Rangersqv with an editorial protesting President Woodrow Wilson's dispatch of United States troops to the border. When rangers arrived to close down El Progreso, Idar stood in the doorway to keep them from entering. The rangers closed the newspaper later, however, and Idar returned to La Crónica. After her father died in 1914, she ran the paper.

In 1917 Idar married Bartolo Juárez. The couple moved to San Antonio, where Jovita Juárez became an active member of the Democratic party, established a free kindergarten, worked as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients in a county hospital, and was an editor of El Heraldo Christiano, a publication of the Rio Grande Conference of the Methodist Church. She and her husband had no children. She died in San Antonio in 1946.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Martha P. Cotera, Diosa y Hembra: The History and Heritage of Chicanas in the U.S. (Austin: Information Systems Development, 1976). José E. Limón, "El Primer Congreso Mexicanista de 1911," Aztlán 5 (Spring, Fall 1974). Mary Beth Rogers et al., We Can Fly: Stories of Katherine Stinson and Other Gutsy Texas Women (Austin: Texas Foundation for Women's Resources, 1983).

Nancy Baker Jones

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Nancy Baker Jones, "IDAR, JOVITA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fid03), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.