Merced County Courthouse Museum looking for Mexican American stories

The Merced County Courthouse Museum is looking for personal narratives for its upcoming “Mexican American Experience in Merced County” exhibit.

From working in the fields to working at schools and businesses, the museum wants personal stories from the Latino community. Museum Director Sarah Lim said she’s already received stories from local boxers, entertainers and leaders – but she’s looking for more.

The narratives should cover an era from the 1840s to the 1960s, and can include personal photographs as well as essays.

“We would like to get more stories from the west side of the county,” Lim said. “I want to hear stories of how they have contributed to building the county of Merced – in big ways and small ways.”

Merced County’s population is 53.2 percent Latino, according to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, and 56.8 percent of the city of Merced’s residents are Latino.

That was one of the many factors in deciding to bring a Latino exhibit to the museum, Lim said.

“We know we’re living in a county that’s very diverse,” she said. “We often look for ways to preserve Merced County history.”

Similar exhibits in the past have celebrated African American, Italian and Portuguese cultures. However, the museum hasn’t had a Mexican American exhibit since the 1990s, Lim said. The last exhibit about Mexican heritage was called “Fiestas de Mexico” in 1994.

The new exhibit opens Oct. 16, the day after National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) ends. Lim said the exhibit will help extend the celebration of Latino culture.

“With the opening of our story exhibit, we will continue celebrating Mexican American culture for the next four months,” she said.