Skip navigation
Share this page
Keyword  Search

Search By Categories

Search By Museum

Select: All, None

Exhibitions Home | Current | Upcoming | Past | Virtual

Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964

September 9, 2009 – January 3, 2010

Museum: American History Museum

Location: 2nd Floor, West Wing, near First Ladies at the Smithsonian

Through freestanding, illustrated banners with text, this bilingual (English and Spanish) exhibition examines the experiences of bracero workers and their families while providing insight into Mexican American history and historical context to today's debates on guest worker programs. Begun in 1942 to fill labor shortages in agriculture and the railroads caused by World War II, the bracero program eventually became the largest guest worker program in U.S. history. Small farmers, large growers, and farm associations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, and 23 other states hired Mexican braceros to provide manpower during peak harvest and cultivation times. By the time the program was canceled in 1964, an estimated 4.6 million contracts had been awarded. Bittersweet, the bracero experience tells a story of both exploitation and opportunity to earn money. The exhibition also includes a collection of photographs taken by photojournalist Leonard Nadel in 1956, as well as documents, objects, and an audio station featuring oral histories collected by the Bracero Oral History Project.

Computer station providing access to the Bracero History Archive
Web page: braceroarchive.org

Beginning in February 2010, this exhibition will travel to Arizona, California, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, and Texas under the auspices of SITES.

Online Exhibition