Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964

September 9, 2009 – January 3, 2010

National Museum of American History
1300 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, West Wing

See on Map Floor Plan

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