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Leo J. Leo, Sr. Collection

 Collection — Container: 84
Identifier: ELIBR-0084

Scope and Contents

Series I, Political, 1952-1981, consists of correspondence and letters relating to local politics and official business, official documents from offices held, campaign material, and Hidalgo County voter lists.

Series II, Mexican American Civil Rights Movement Involvement, 1957-1981, consists of letters from prominent Mexican American political Chicano Movement leaders and Hidalgo County Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organization (PASO) documents.

Series III, La Joya Independent School District, 1952-1980, consists of documents pertaining to school district trustee elections and newsclips regarding the school district.

Series IV, Business and Land, 1933-1981, consists of documents regarding his personal businesses, land ownership deeds, and business notes.

Series V, Personal, 1909-1981, consists of family genealogy, correspondence, photographs, and income tax returns.


  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1953-1981


Language of Materials

English and Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in our collections may be protected by copyright. Publication, transmission, or reproduction of items protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Whenever possible, accurate information about the copyright status of material is provided in the item record and/or documentation for material in the collection. The Library does not own the copyright in much of the material in its collection and is therefore unable to grant copyright permission to publish those items. It is the researcher's responsibility to determine copyright or other use restrictions and obtain proper permission when publishing or distributing materials found in these collections. Researchers must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use. Additional information about copyright and fair use is available via the Library's Copyright Guide at

Biographical / Historical

Leo J. Leo (1917–1981), political leader, was born in Mission, Texas, on March 14, 1917, the son of John Adrian and Dolores Isidora (Garcia) Leo. He and his twin brother, Alejandro, were the second oldest of six children. The family moved to nearby La Joya. At an early age Leo worked as a janitor to help support the family. He received his high school diploma in 1935 and attended Edinburg Junior College, the forerunner of the University of Texas-Pan American, and Texas A&I University. He received his teaching certificate in 1937. His first teaching assignment was in Zapata, Texas, where he met Feliz Bustamante, whom he married on May 26, 1940. They had five children. During World War II Leo held a supervisory post at the Laredo Army Airfield, and after the war he returned to La Joya, where he started a grocery business. In 1965 he was elected mayor. He provided public notary services to file citizenship papers for Mexican immigrants and served on boards of directors of Great Society poverty programs to provide jobs, housing, food assistance, dental services, summer youth programs, and legal aid. His outspoken defense of these programs, such as those provided by the Associated City and County Economic Development Corporation, frequently involved him in controversy. Leo championed farm workers' strikes in the late 1960s and helped organize the Hidalgo County Political League, a loose federation of Mexican-American and Anglo-American liberal Democrats. His work with the Viva Kennedy Clubs in the 1960 elections received special commendation from President John F. Kennedy. In 1960 Leo and other Mexican-American political leaders organized the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations(qv). Leo chaired the Hidalgo County [PASO] Chapter, which with its 1,000 members was the largest in the state. He died in McAllen, Texas, on July 14, 1981. Source:


4 Linear Feet (3 Record boxes and 1 oversized box)


Leo J. Leo (1917-1981) was a long-time power in Democratic Party politics in Hidalgo County. He was elected mayor of La Joya in 1965 and served for 14 consecutive years before retiring in 1979. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, official business documents from offices held, voting poll lists, and newsclips.


Arranged into series and chronologically.

Series I. Political, 1952-1981 (169 folders) Series II: Mexican American Civil Rights Movement Involvement, 1957-1981 (53 folders) Series III: La Joya ISD, 1952-1980 (10 folders) Series IV: Business and Land, 1933-1981 (44 folders) Series V: Personal, 1909-1981 (35 folders)


Please contact University Library, Special Collections and University Archives at (956) 665-2726 or via email at for more information and requests.

Deandra Portner
2016 May 25
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus Repository

ELIBR 4.100
University Library
1201 West University Drive
Edinburg TX 78539-2999
(956) 665-2726