Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Elizabeth Zanoni

Committee Member

John Weber

Committee Member

Robert Holden

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47 D445 2014


The Bracero Program created a bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico that legalized US agricultural growers to import Mexican workers on seasonal labor contracts between 1942 and 1964. The Bracero Program exclusively contracted men, allowing male laborers known as braceros to migrate according to seasonal patterns. Many braceros left their families behind in Mexico. However, some bracero families made the dangerous choice to remain together, with women and children migrating illegally to the United States. The experiences of these women and children are silenced in traditional documentary sources like government reports and sociological studies, as well as glossed over by historians who characterize bracero camps as masculine, homosocial spaces. These overlooked bracero families are the focus of this paper, which utilizes the oral interviews of braceros and bracero family members collected by the recent Bracero History Project. I argue that there was indeed a presence of women and children in bracero camps and that the presence of these women and children alleviated what was an alienating and isolating experience for all members of a bracero family by continuing the norms of Mexican communities and families. This analysis of bracero oraI histories inserts the previously silenced experiences of these families into the history of American labor migration and borderlands studies.


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