Creator: Ramón Hernández
Title: The Ramón Hernández Tejano Music Collection
Dates: 1922-2019 [Bulk dates, 1985-2019]
Abstract: The Ramón Hernández Tejano Music Collection spans from 1922-2019 and is organized into twelve series. The collection documents the history of Tejano, conjunto, and orquesta music predominately in Texas (although musicians from around the world are represented). The bulk of the material relates to musicians’ publicity material, but all aspects of the business of Tejano music, including record labels, media outlets, publications, and events are also well-represented. The costume collection consisting of stage outfits is also of note.
Identification: Collection 141
Extent: 253 boxes, plus oversize, hanging material, and artifacts (approximately 175 linear feet)
Language: English, Spanish, Japanese
Repository: The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University
Access Restrictions: Open for research
Preferred Citation: Ramón Hernández Tejano Music Collection, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University
Acquisition Information: Purchase, 2017
Processing Information: Processed in 2019-2020 by Susannah Broyles, with assistance from Roman Gros and Kyle Trehan
Notes for Researchers:
The Ramón Hernández Music Recording Collection includes 45s, LPs, audiocassettes, and CDs and is Collection 141b. The contents are included as an appendix to this collection.
Some publications have been transferred to the Wittliff’s book collection and are available through the library’s online catalog.
Ramón Hernández Biographical Notes
Ramón Hernández (1940-) became an authority on Tejano music through his work as a journalist, photographer, publicist, collector, and musicologist. Hernández was born on the West Side of San Antonio. He grew up loving music, and during his teenage years he formed a band with some classmates, but soon realized that his skills were better suited behind the scenes (the band later became The Monsanto Band). After he graduated from San Antonio’s Brackenridge High School in 1960, he joined the U.S. Navy, where he became a naval intelligence officer and learned to speak five languages. It was during his military career that he found his interest as a photographer and writer. By 1968, while still in the Navy, he was freelancing as a photographer on the sets of the popular The Lawrence Welk Show and The Andy Williams Show. In 1983, he retired from the military and returned to San Antonio.
In 1985, Hernández was hired by the San Antonio Express-News to write about the local Tejano and conjunto scene. He soon began writing for other publications, including Full Tilt Boogie, La Prensa de San Antonio, and Billboard Magazine. There are many of his drafts as well as published articles in the collection.
At the same time, he started doing publicity and photography for many of the musicians he wrote about. His clients included some of the most popular names in Tejano music: Selena, Little Joe Hernandez, Patsy Torres, Los Desporadoz, Emilio Navaira, Ram Herrera, among many others. He also collected artifacts and ephemera from the early days of Tejano, conjunto, and orquesta music, preserving material from such influential artists as Lydia Mendoza, Isidro “El Indio” Lopez, Rosita Fernandez, Juan Gaytan, Narciso Martinez, and Beto Villa.
By 1990, his collection became known as the Hispanic Entertainment Archive and Research Center. Hernández wanted to create a museum that honored the legacy of Hispanics in all areas of entertainment. That goal never materialized; however, he loaned out many items from his collection for display at events and at museums including the Bob Bullock Museum, Institute of Texan Culture, and in 2017, at The Wittliff Collections with the exhibit “The Legends of Tejano Music - Highlights from the Ramón Hernández Collection.”
Hernández’s desire to promote Hispanic entertainers can also be seen in his 1990 creation of the National Hispanic Entertainment Directory, a massive undertaking where he published the contact information of bands, vocalists, venues, record labels, record stores, and most areas of the Tejano music industry. There are quite a few records related to this venture in the collection.
During the 1990s through the early 2000s, Hernández also worked as a publicist and promoter for many of the prominent Tejano record labels including Hacienda, CARA, and Tejano Discos (Little Joe Hernandez’s label). Hernández continues to be a prolific writer with regular columns in Street Talk and online blogs. He published his first book The Latinaires, La Familia, Little Joe y más, in 2020. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Martha.
Scope and Contents
The Ramón Hernández Tejano Music Collection spans 1922-2019, with the bulk of materials ranging from 1985-2019, the period when Hernández was most active in the Tejano music industry. The collection is divided into 12 series as seen below. Researchers are urged to look at each series, as material about individual musicians may be found in multiple locations.
A quick note on terminology. The initials RH are used frequently to denote material that is either created by or related to Hernández himself. The material described as “mounted” in the finding aid indicates that it is affixed on foamcore and was likely once displayed.
I Artist Files
II Posters and Oversize Materials
III Record Labels
IV Media Outlets
V Ramón Hernández Research Files
IX Promotional Material
XII Artifacts/Framed material
A detailed description of the above series follows.
Series I: Artists Files, 1922-2019, undated
Artist Files comprise the bulk of the collection. The files are separated into Male Artist Files and Female Artist Files to maintain Hernández’s original order. Both series are then arranged alphabetically by artist last name or band name. Although the series is titled Artists Files, there are also entrepreneurs, community leaders, promoters, street performers, and many others represented.
The material found in each artist file varies greatly. For artists that Hernández worked with, there are typically hundreds of his photographs (both portraits and of performances), drafts of publicity material, and design ideas for album covers. The contents of larger files are typically sorted into the following broader subseries: Personal, Photographs, Concert and Event Publicity, Albums, Publicity, Ramón Hernández Material, Clippings, Audiovisual material, and Promotional Material. Note: not every artist file has each type of material.
The initials RH found in smaller files, denote that the item is either created by or related to Hernández
There is also a small subseries includes oversize portraits of artists (many taken by Hernández). The arrangement mimics the arrangement of the previous series by separating the male and female artists and then arranging the portraits alphabetically.
Series II: Posters and Oversized Materials, 1948-2018, undated
Boxes 156-164 and map case drawers 36-44
This series can be seen as a continuation of the Artists Files, but with material that does not fit in standard document boxes. There are two exceptions to this: the majority of boxes, including the oversized ones, for Little Joe Hernandez (boxes 33-46) and Selena (boxes 121-142) are housed within Series I: Artists Files due to the sheer quantity of material, but as with all artists, materials related to them can be found in many series.
As mentioned, mounted posters are those adhered to foamcore for easier display, possibly for exhibit in Hernández’s Hispanic Entertainment Archive.
This series is divided into Artist Posters, Mounted Posters, Concert Posters, and Oversized Material
Series III: Record Labels, 1950-2016, undated
Arranged alphabetically by record label, this series contains promotional material, business documents, and catalogs from prominent Tejano record labels. Hacienda Records is particularly well-represented. Also, of note is correspondence from Carmen Marroquin (of the sister musical act Carmen and Laura) whose husband Armando Marroquin founded Ideal Records.
Series IV: Media Outlets, 1964-2014, undated
The bulk of the series is radio station press kits and promotional material. There are a small number of TV stations, news outlets, and film production companies also included. The many radio station coverage maps that span all across Texas are unexpected highlights of this series.
Series V: Ramón Hernández Material, 1972-2017, undated
Included are Hernández’s research files, calendar with appointments, and oversize material, including a sign for the Hispanic Entertainment Hall of Fame exhibit and a foamcore exhibit display.
Series VI: Awards, 1979-2017, undated
Arranged alphabetically by award ceremony name, and then chronologically. Publicity material for music award ceremonies, such as the Grammys, Latin Grammys, Tejano Music Awards, and Noche de Fiesta Tejana comprise the bulk of this series. Of note are the business records of the Texas Talent Musicians Association as they created the Tejano Music Awards. Boxes 189-192 contain awards, arranged chronologically.
Series VII: Events, 1982-2018, undated
This series contains photographs, schedules, publicity material, and clippings for events and conferences. The Tejano Conjunto Festival is particularly well-represented. It is arranged alphabetically, and then chronologically.
Series VIII: Merchandise, 1987-2018, undated
Arranged alphabetically by artist, the bulk of the series are commemorative t-shirts. There is a small collection of other branded clothing that includes hats, patches, and women’s underwear.
Series IX: Promotional Material, 1990-1998, [bulk undated]
This series consists of promotional material from various radio stations, record labels, and other companies such as pens and pencils, keychains, and even maracas. There is also a considerable selection of promotional cups and mugs, many that commemorate concerts and festivals.
Series X: Publications, 1981-2016, undated
Arranged alphabetically by title, and then chronologically. Unless noted, all are full issues. Publications with longer runs (including Latin Connection, Street Talk, Que Onda, Nuestra Musica, and TGN) have been added to the Wittliff’s book collection to be cataloged and are available for use onsite.
Series XI: Costumes, undated
Costumes are arranged alphabetically by artist. Many of the costumes were worn on stage and range from the highly elaborate and detailed to a more Western-influenced style. Some of the many highlights are an intricately beaded dress worn by Rosita Fernandez, multiple custom-made jumpsuits worn by Little Joe Hernandez, a multicolored sequined jacket with pink satin pants worn by Jamie De Anda, a faux leather jacket emblazoned with “Rockstar Angel” worn by Shelley Lares, and a pink Western-style button-down shirt with red acid-washed jeans worn by Emilio Navaira. There is also a small number of T-shirts worn by artists, some with political or activist messages.
The subseries of costume accessories is further separated into hats, shoes, and miscellaneous accessories, including Freddie Martinez’s ties, Emilio Navaira’s belt with a belt buckle, Oscar Martinez’s sunglasses, and Steve Jordan’s eyepatch.
Series XII: Artifacts and Framed Material, 1983-1997, undated
Arranged alphabetically by artist. The artifacts include Hugo Guerrero’s accordion and instrument cases and a public address speaker signed by Michael Salgado and Isidro “El Indio” Lopez, respectively. There is also a life-size cardboard cut-out Coca-Cola advertisement featuring Selena and two cardboard movie posters for the Selena film.
Framed material includes paintings, photographs, and posters. Rosita Fernandez is particularly well-represented with a portrait painted by Frank Puente Harris, an illustrated song dedicated to her by David Kresh, and an event poster for her 60th Anniversary at La Villita Assembly Hall. There are also posters of Freddie Martinez and Selena. As well as a framed copy of Siempre Tu Eres CD by Jackie y Los Romanticos. It is also arranged alphabetically by artist.
Click HERE for a complete box and folder inventory in PDF