Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982. Many had immigrated from Mexico in the early 1900s due to civil wars. Others would have stayed but were forced out when they lost their land in bank foreclosures. Farmworkers have loomed large in U. He argues that photographer Dorthea Lange, author John Steinbeck, director John Ford, and singer Woodie Guthrie used the plight of the migrants to urge changes in California's rural economy, to either accept a system of factory farms, and regulate the farm labor market as nonfarm labor markets were being regulated, or to break up big California farms and give land to the workers.
Due to the Great Depression, more than 500,000 Mexican Americans were deported or pressured to leave during the Mexican Repatriation, and the number of farm workers of Mexican descent decreased. Mid - Children of Oklahoma drought refugee in migratory camp in California. Picture by Dorothea Lange, courtesy the Library of Congress. Mexican Labor in the United States. The new migratory camps now being built by the Resettlement Administration will remove people from unsatisfactory living conditions such as these and substitute at least the minimum of comfort and sanitation. The overfarming of the Great Plains also led to the Dust Bowl.
Hamett remained a farm worker, but was blacklisted from jobs in the Pixley area. In California, the migrant workers worked up to 12 hours a day, at a minimum of 6 days a week. Mexican Labor Migration to the United States. Taylor traveled extensively throughout the United States in the late 1920s and early 1930s as he documented the experiences of Mexican migrants. In all, one-quarter of the population left, packing everything they owned into their cars and trucks, and headed west toward California. During the drought from 1934 to 1937, the intense dust storms, called black blizzards, caused 60 percent of the population to flee for a better life.
Tents as Home -- Left - Drought refugees from Texas encamped in California near Exeter. Using a structural Marxian theoretical perspective, the authors describe the rise of industrial agriculture in California and the shifting and contentious relations between and among the state local, state, and federal , corporate agricultural interests, and labor unions. Unhealthy Lifestyle -- Left - Migrant workers' camp, outskirts of Marysville, California. Picking cotton in Arizona for a day or two at a time gave them enough for food and gas to continue. In 1939-40, two Congressional committees with opposing agendas held hearings in California.
The demise of the Bracero Program did not lead to the end of migrant labor. Many Mexican Americans were also sent out of the United States under these programs, there being no differentiation between Mexicans and Mexican American U. The Grapes of Wrath, a winner of the and , and Of Mice and Men are two of his well-known works that are set during this highly stressful period. The rolling fields of wheat were replaced by crops of fruit, nuts and vegetables. The reduction of Mexican workers in the West and dust bowl conditions in midwestern states brought a new wave of migrant farmworkers to the western states. Migrant family looking for work in the pea fields of California Living Conditions Were Horrible For Migrant Workers Most of the migrant workers headed toward Central and Southern California, the main agricultural areas of the state. Ill Fares the Land: Migrants and Migratory Labor in the United States.
Farm labor reformers were divided between those such as University of California economist Paul Taylor, who wanted to break up big farms and turn farmworkers into small farmers, and those such as writer Carey McWilliams, who wanted the U. That book and the film adapted from it helped provide an emotional impetus for farm labor reforms. Through his works, Steinbeck was able to give a voice to the overlooked. They were afraid of the unknown. To learn more about the current immigration issues faced by farm workers, visit our page.
In many ways, Migrant Mother is not typical of Lange's careful method of interacting with her subject. Has come to Yakima Valley for the third year to pick hops. Bust of John Steinbeck When It Rains, It Pours The started in August 1929 when the economy began to decline rapidly, and things continued to deteriorate when the stock market crashed in October of the same year. Finally, in this period, the U. The migrant workers were not allowed to leave the state of California, unless given permission by their employers. By the 1970s and 1980s, a number of important scholarly works on migrant workers appeared, including , a historical study of immigration and immigration politics, and , an overview of agribusiness and migrant labor in California. According to the now adult girls in the picture, the Thompson family was from the San Joaquin Valley, not the Midwest, and the reason they became farm workers was because their father died of an asthma attack, forcing the family to go on the road in search of farm work.
Near Klamath Falls, Klamath county, Oregon. White trade unions claimed that Mexican immigrants were taking jobs that should go to white men. Extreme drought conditions brought on the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, in which topsoil in Oklahoma, north Texas and neighboring states blew away in large quantities, destroying the formerly productive agriculture of the region. He wants to buy a little place in Idaho. California newspapers alternated between ignoring the strike or printing the growers' side until several strikers were killed by growers at a Pixley, California rally.
It seems that the published newspaper reports about this camp were distilled into captions for the series, which explains inaccuracies on the file cards in the Library of Congress. Gang labor, Mexican and white, from the Southwest. White government officials claimed that Mexican immigrants made up the majority of the California unemployed. At the same time that wages were dropping due to the new white refugee labor, established Mexican and Mexican American farm workers had become a threat by banding together, often with other non-whites, and organizing strikes to protest lowered wages and worsening living conditions. Steinbeck visited these migration camps and saw the horrible conditions in which the workers lived. They took up the work of Mexican migrant workers, 120,000 of whom were repatriated during the 1930s.