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Herb - social history for every classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Rigoberto Garcia Perez was born in Michoacan, Mexico in 1934. His father lost land in the worldwide depression of the 1930s and became a bracero after the outbreak of World War II created a shortage of agricultural laborers in the United States. As a…

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The majority of braceros who came to the United States performed the most difficult types of agricultural labor: planting, tending, and harvesting crops. This type of work was called "stoop work" because it required laborers to spend all day bent…

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Aaron Castañeda Gamez and thousands of other Mexican workers had to pass a series of examinations to enter the bracero program. Recruits reported to centers in Mexico where they were inspected for lice and disease. Braceros' hands were inspected to…

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Between 1942 and 1964, millions of Mexican agricultural workers entered the U.S. to work as surplus farm laborers during the government-sponsored Bracero Program. Working for lower wages than domestic farm workers, the Braceros were often victims of…

Braceros traveled to a country where they did not know the language or the customs. In order to help them understand their new surroundings, local committees prepared Spanish-English phrasebooks such as the one pictured below. This handbook…

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The scale of the United States' war production effort during World War II touched every corner of the nation and millions of people. When traditional farm workers left for military service or higher paying jobs in war industries, the U.S. government…

In this oral history Alvaro Hernández describes how he entered the United States, first as an illegal worker and then as a bracero. Mr. Hernández was born in Jilemes, Chihuahua, Mexico. His father was an agricultural worker and his…

Having heard about successful braceros, Salvador Esparza Carreño decided to enlist in the bracero program in 1945. He worked as a railroad worker, in the fields cutting asparagus, and as a camp cook. He describes his work and leisure time in…

Although he had received a rare scholarship to attend middle school, Andrés Héctor Quezada Lara dropped out to become a bracero. His work took him to many places in the United States, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois,…

Despite rumors that braceros would be sent off to fight in World War II, Manuel Sandoval Espino joined the bracero program in 1943. He recalls having to go to the local politician in order to get a pass to join. Mr. Sandoval worked in Kansas as a…
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