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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Manuel and David Macias papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1944-2009
Creator: Macias, Manuel and David
Extent: 2.50 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0887
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Brothers who emigrated to Bettendorf, Iowa, from Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1914 and 1915.

Arrangement: The full extent of the Manuel and David Macias collection is preserved in the Iowa Digital Library.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 1344) were donated by Pete Macias in 2014.

Preferred Citation: Manuel and David Macias papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Brothers and community leaders David and Manuel Macias were born in Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1885 and 1890, respectively. David Macias, an accomplished musician, had originally planned on becoming a priest. But after the Mexican Revolution derailed his plan, he began working as a chemist for an American mining company with operations in Mexico. After several business trips that took him north of the border, he decided to permanently emigrate to the U.S. Among the first Mexicans to live in the Quad Cities, he arrived in Bettendorf in 1914, and found work at the Bettendorf Car Company. Manuel Macias did not immediately accompany his brother to the U.S. He married Guadalupe Perez, also from Zacatecas, in 1912 and joined David Macias in Bettendorf in 1915.

During World War I, the Macias brothers went to Juarez, Mexico, to recruit Mexicans to work in the Bettendorf Company foundries in order to help fill the labor shortage caused by U.S. entry into the war. The brothers served as leaders to these recent arrivals to the Mexican barrio known as Holy City adjacent to the Bettendorf Company. David Macias spoke English fluently, and acted as a translator and "go-between" for those who did not. In 1918, the brothers learned of a community of Mexicans living nearby in a barrio in Silvis, Illinois, called La Yarda. Manuel Macias volunteered to teach music to local adults and children, and converted two railroad boxcars into a rehearsal hall and storage space for band instruments. In 1927, the Silvis rehearsal hall became Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a place of worship as well as a community gathering point for Mexicans on both sides of the Mississippi River.

The Manuel and David Macias papers date from 1890 to 1972. They consist primarily of digital images scanned from three binders arranged by Pete Macias, Manuel Macias' son. The first binder focuses on Manuel Macias, and contains photographs of the Macias family, newspaper clippings, community newsletters, biographical information, and ephemera. Two binders illuminate the contribution of Rudolph "Rudy" Macias, another son of Manuel Macias, to World War II. Rudy Macias served as a scout in the 7th Cavalry and 1st Cavalry in the Pacific and Asiatic Theaters and was one of the last of the horse-mounted soldiers to serve in the military. The binders include photographs of Rudy Macias on horseback and telegrams home to his parents in Iowa. The fourth and final binder focuses on the musical career of Pete Macias.  Plays and music written by Manuel Macias throughout his life, as well as a small number of newsletters produced by the Muscatine council of the Midwest La Raza Unida, complete the collection. The full extent of the Manuel and David Macias collection is preserved in the Iowa Digital Library.
Ernest Rodriguez papers, IWA; LULAC Council 10 records, IWA.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information
  • Manuel Macias binder - 1890-1954
  • Plays and music by Manuel Macias
  • La Organizacion Guadalupena, Davenport, Iowa - 1926
  • "Rudy's Army Records" binder - 1940-1983
  • "U. S. Army" binder - 1923-2001
  • La Raza Unida newsletters, Muscatine, Iowa - 1971-1972
  • Pete Macias binder