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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Lector Reads to Cigar Workers

The lector, or reader, was an institution in Tampa cigar factories. Elected and paid by the workers, the lector read material of their choosing aloud as the workers assembled cigars. Lectores read newspapers, current affairs publications, and even [...]

A Spanish-language Newspaper in Tampa, Florida

Cubans living in Tampa during the early part of the twentieth century published their own newspapers in Spanish. In addition to local news, the papers carried dispatches from Cuba and Spain. These papers were frequently read aloud in the city's [...]

"To Increase Common Labor Supply with Porto Ricans"

With the passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act in 1917, Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States. At the same time, penetration of the island by American-backed sugar interests displaced thousands of rural inhabitants, pushing them into a wage [...]

A Mexican Immigrant Describes Her Work in Los Angeles

Elisa Silva was born in Mazatlán, Mexico and emigrated to the United States at age twenty, eventually settling in Los Angeles. In this interview, conducted during the mid-1920s, Silva describes her motivation for coming, her difficulties finding [...]

Mexican Immigrant Corridos

Ballads are songs that tell a story, often a sad one. Corridos are a form of Mexican ballad that describe the difficulties of life. Mexican immigrants brought corridos with them and even composed new ones that drew upon their experiences in the [...]

Race Relations in the U.S. Southwest

In this excerpt from his book A Different Mirror, historian Ronald Takaki describes the relationships between Mexicans and white Americans in the Southwest. Using quotations from the period, Takaki shows how ordinary Mexicans and Americans [...]

A Mexican Migrant Reflects on His Experiences

During the Mexican Revolution of 1910-20, Pablo Mares left the army and came to the United States to work. In this interview with a researcher, he explains his reasons for leaving, describes the type of work he found, and reflects on the differences [...]

Background Essay on Early Twentieth Century Mexican Immigration to the U.S.

This essay outlines the reasons for Mexican immigration to the United States during the early part of the twentieth century as well as the issues immigrants confronted in their new home.

A Mexican Immigrant Expresses Ambivalence about Her New Life

Elisa Silva was born in Mazatlán, Mexico and emigrated to the United States at age twenty, eventually settling in Los Angeles. In this interview, conducted during the mid-1920s, Silva describes her ambivalence towards the culture and traditions of [...]

Mexican and Japanese Laborers Form a Union

In 1903, Mexican and Japanese farmworkers in Oxnard, California joined together to resist a wage cut by their employers. When they requested that their union be allowed to join the American Federation of Labor, President Samuel Gompers told the [...]