Senator Carlos F. Truan Papers

Descriptive Summary:

Creator:Senator Carlos F. Truan
Title:Senator Carlos F. Truan Papers
Inclusive Dates:1931 - 2003
Abstract:Carlos F. Truan played an instrumental role in shaping the destiny of the Lone Star State, serving the citizens of South Texas with dedication and vision over the course of an impressive, and indeed unprecedented, career as a member of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senator Truan came from a humble, single parent home and worked hard to earn his college degree from a small South Texas college. He entered the work world in the early 1960s, before the Civil Rights movement had even hinted at including Mexican Americans in the quest for equality and justice. Through the legislation he authored and/or sponsored he worked to make government more responsive to the people it served.
Identification:A2000-036 & A2000-036AD1
Extent:1,131 linear foot
Language:English; Spanish
Container:STAD Boxes 1-1258; 137 videocassette tapes; 292 audiocassette
Repository:South Texas Archives, James C. Jernigan Library, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Historical Notes:

The papers of the Honorable Carlos F. Truan are a substantial and important collection of historical documents. The holdings at the South Texas Archives & Special Collections at Texas A&M University-Kingsville reveal the experience of how a young Mexican-American man grew up to be a political activist, working within the “system” to help bring equality and justice to the socially and economically disadvantaged of South Texas. Born in Kingsville, Texas on June 9, 1935 he was a child of the “Great Depression.” His parents divorced when he was quite young and his single mother was left alone to raise Carlos and his two older brothers, a sister and a younger brother. The Truan family was among the earliest settlers in a town that had been founded in 1904 as a railroad community. From its beginning the town was segregated into three distinct communities. There were a substantial number of African-Americans who lived on the southwest side of town and worked for the railroad. The strong “Colored Trainman’s Union” assured that community of economic benefits. There was a larger community of Mexican-Americans who were generally agricultural workers or small business entrepreneurs living in the northeastern section of the town. Because of the proximity to Mexico, it was easy to maintain their culture and many often spoke Spanish as a first language. The third community was the Anglo population which lived between and around the other two groups and dominated the social and economic life of the area. Carlos Truan attended the “Mexican School,” where he quickly learned that speaking his native language, Spanish, was an offense for which he was punished by the school administration. He learned from his mother how to work hard, to help the family, and to be successful in a world where people of color needed to learn how to compete without surrendering the beauty of their culture. His mother urged him to continue his education cautioning him: “somos muy pobres hijo, pero la educacion es my importante, y eso es algo que nadie to puede quitar. Y, no importa que, to vas a la esculea y vas limpio. Y to portaste bien y no vallas agarrar algo que no sea tuyo.” (We are poor son, but the education is very important. And that is something that nobody can take from you. And nothing matters, you go to school, and you go clean. You are good and never take what is not yours.) Following her advice, Carlos worked hard to finish high school, where he was elected class president for four years. With a small scholarship, he then attended Texas College of Arts and Industries. He graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Business. After graduating from college he moved to the city of Corpus Christi, Texas where he pursued a career as an insurance agent ultimately joining the New York Life Insurance Company. He felt confident as a salesman and his achievements earned him status as a Life and Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table. For professional, business and personal reasons he needed to become involved and active in his community. In 1968 he received an appointment to the Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission and traveled to Rio Grande City for hearings about discrimination, employment, education and unfair treatment of migrant farm workers by the Texas Rangers. As he continued to work for the rights of the disadvantaged he became even more sensitized to their needs and recognized that his own experiences of segregation and discrimination were not unique, but problems faced by many. It was then that he decided to run for elected office. He began his political career when he was elected to serve in the Texas House of Representatives in 1968. Following four successful terms in the house, during which time he served as Chairman of the Committee on Human Resources, he won election to the Texas Senate. Among the major issues that he supported during his twenty-five years as a senator were public education, higher education, environmental protection, and mental health care. Senator Truan also served as chair of the Senate Committee on International Relations, Trade and Technology. In the 69th Legislature, his colleagues elected him and reelected him to the post of Senate President Pro Tempore during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd called sessions. With the advent of the 74th Legislature, he became the first Hispanic legislator to serve as Dean of the Texas Senate, an achievement that was applauded by his peers in both chambers and by citizens throughout the state. Senator Truan is rightfully hailed as one of the state’s most influential supporters of public education. In addition to sponsoring the Texas Bilingual Education Act (1969) and the Texas Adult Education Act (1973) he helped obtain increased funding for institutions of higher learning and successfully led to bring South Texas schools into The Texas A&M University System and The University of Texas System. He remained active in many civic and charitable organizations in South Texas, such as Kiwanis International, Knights of Columbus, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. A member of the American G.I. Forum, he is known for his selfless work on behalf of American servicemen, and while in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installations. The papers the Senator collected while serving in the Texas State Legislature reveal insights into the politics of South Texas and the large Hispanic community that is beginning to emerge as a political force. As Hispanics have grown into the nation’s largest minority group, with Mexican-Americans being the largest single group within this diverse group, they are a group whose votes are increasingly courted. Studying Carlos Truan’s papers will give students of history, politics and social concerns, a glimpse of how, at least, one person learned to compete in the dominated Anglo society while retaining a culture and language that he was taught to love and appreciate. The Carlos Truan Collection is a rich resource for researchers. There are materials for research in history, political science, sociology, minority relations, biographies, environmental issues, immigration, international trade, water issues, economic development, and health and human services. The Collection contains a substantial amount of information on education at all levels—elementary education, secondary education, bilingual education, higher education, and health education.

Scope and Content:

The materials in this collection include materials accumulated for the legislation that Carlos F. Truan authored, co-authored, sponsored, or supported during his thirty-five years serving in the Texas State House of Representatives and Texas State Senate. The documents include background for his work on legislation for International Trade, especially on NAFTA, on health care issues, veterans’ issues, and education at all levels. Files for correspondence on bills introduced into the legislature, constituent needs and concerns and special projects are included. A limited amount of materials is included that deals with Mr. Truan as a private citizen.


The Collection is arranged chronologically in ten series and by sub series. Series I – Achievements Series II – Business and Consumer Services Series III – Clippings Series IV – Correspondence Series V – Education Series VI – Environments and Natural Resources Series VII – Government Series VIII – Health and Human Services Series IX – Laws and Criminal Justice Series X – Travel and Recreation


Access:Open for Research
Rights Statment:Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from South Texas Archives, James C. Jernigan Library, Texas A& M University-Kingsville. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.

Index Terms:


  • Truan, Carlos Flores, Sr. 1935-2012
  • Truan, Elvira Munguia, 1936


  • Texas A&M University-Kingsville
  • Texas A&I University
  • Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center
  • Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy
  • League of United Latin American Citizens
  • American GI Forum
  • Kiwanis International
  • New York Life Insurance Company
  • Texas -- Legislature -- House of Representatives
  • Texas -- Legislature -- Senate
  • Democrat Party (U.S.)
  • Most Precious Blood Catholic Church

Geographical Names

  • Kingsville (Tex.)
  • Corpus Christi (Tex.)
  • South Texas
  • Rio Grande City (Tex.)


  • Mexican-American women
  • Hispanic American men
  • Hispanic American legislators -- Texas
  • Senators (United States)
  • State Representative
  • Bills, Legislative -- Texas
  • Civil rights
  • Education, Bilingual -- Texas
  • Hispanic Americans -- Education
  • Ecology

Administrative Information:

Preferred Citation

Senator Carlos F. Truan Papers, A2000-036.XXXX, South Texas Archives, James C. Jernigan Library, Texas A&M University-Kingsville


A2000-036 – Gift of Senator Carlos F. Truan A2000-036AAD1 - Gift of Senator Carlos F. Truan

Proccessing Information

Cecilia Hunter processed and wrote the finding aid in 2000. Lori Atkins updated finding aid and Daniel Thacker encoded it into an EAD document and uploaded it to the STA website in 2017.

2016 Texas A&M University-Kingsville,
James C. Jernigan Library, South Texas Archives,
MSC 197, 700 University Blvd, Kingsville, TX 78336-8202