The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1977, Volume 23, Number 1
James E. Moss, Editor
Thomas L. Scharf, Assistant Editor

By Mario T. García

image The scarcity of primary documents in the form of correspondence, memoirs, diaries, etc., represents a problem for the historian studying the Mexican experience in the United States. Unlike the more literate middle classes, Mexicans as well as other poor immigrant groups and the unorganized working class have not left a wealth of written records. Consequently, innovative historians have begun to employ oral history techniques to compensate for non-existing working class documentation.1 No panacea, oral history complements the traditional tools of the historian. The following four interviews were conducted by Ms. Donna Salazar for a 1974 class in the Institute of Cultural Pluralism at San Diego State University and exemplify an oral history approach to Chicano history. The interviews provide an insight into the evolving perspectives of different generations in two Los Angeles Mexican families. Due to economics, political, and cultural changes over three-quarters of a century, the responses reflect certain generational disparities in values, beliefs, and priorities. These differences are the result of the particular history of Mexicans in this country.

Thousands of Mexicans migrated beginning in the late nineteenth century to work in the expanding industries of the Southwest. Displaced in their own nation due to rapid economic changes financed by American and foreign capital, Mexicans worked as laborers for railroads, mines, farms, and urban businesses.2 Southwestern enterprises not only recruited and contracted workers in Mexico, but utilized Mexicans as cheap unskilled labor. As such, Mexican immigrant-workers formed the labor base for Southwestern economic modernization.3

Hungry for jobs, the majority of Mexican immigrants arrived with the hope of a rapid return to Mexico once sufficient savings had been accumulated. They directed their loyalties to Mexico with no thought of becoming American citizens.4 Because they realized an economic improvement in the United States and because they believed they would soon return to “la patria”—their homeland—the Mexicans accommodated themselves to hardships as well as acts of discrimination. While occasionally engaging in strikes to protest difficult work conditions, the majority of Mexican immigrants never participated in such “radical” activities for fear of losing their jobs or being deported. Moreover, what group consciousness the Mexicans possessed could more accurately be described as an ethnic one—”La Raza”—rather than a working class consciousness.5 Their limited interest in American society, unfortunately, made them more vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of employers, landlords, and politicians.

Despite their expectations of a quick return across the border, many Mexicans remained in the United States because of scarce economic opportunities in Mexico. A large number of Mexican families such as the Sandovals, interviewed by Ms. Salazar, also represented native-born Mexicans who had lived in the Southwest prior to the U.S. conquest of the region during the Mexican War (1846-1848). As they lived and worked in the United States and as their children attended American schools, a process of accommodation continued. The first-generation U.S. born Mexicans of immigrant parents became “Americanized” although they likewise encountered racial discrimination in employment, housing, and social-cultural activities. Segregated “Mexican schools” in the “barrios” provided limited educational opportunities by emphasizing manual training, while effectively socializing the Mexicans to middle-class American values.6 Mexican Americans aspired to become both “good workers” and “good citizens.” Through the mediating cultural institutions of the schools, churches, and mass media, the Mexican American generation supported the ideology of American individual success and strove for assimilation into Anglo-American life. Unlike their parents whose primary loyalties remained Mexican, the interests of Mexican Americans lay within the United States.7

Mexican Americans, however, have been unable to assimilate. Economically more mobile than their immigrant parents due to the need by Southwestern and American industries for larger supplies of semi-skilled and skilled workers, first and second generation Mexican Americans and their children still face discrimination which magnifies serious economic problems due to rising unemployment and inflation. In addition, the majority of Mexicans in the United States, both citizens and aliens, remain employed in the least skilled and poorly paid occupations along with other racial minorities.8 The persistent pattern of economic, political, and social prejudice directed at Mexicans constitutes institutionalized forms of racial discrimination.9 Low skilled employment opportunities, inferior schools, and de facto segregated housing combine with other types of discrimination to keep racial minorities such as Mexicans as a profitable pool of cheap labor. Nevertheless, many Mexicans in the United States still believe in the “American Dream.” The oral interviews, while not necessarily representative of all Mexicans in this country, indicate the continued contradictions between the ideological views of many Mexicans and their material realities.

Manuela Sandoval


Q: When and where were you born?

S: I was born in 1884 in New Mexico, in a place called Manzano. Only apple trees and little houses could be found there. It was close to a town called Willard.

Q: Did you attend school?

S: I attended only two years in a little school called San Miguel. There was also a convent further away where English was taught. However, we only spoke Spanish at home. My grandfather taught my mother how to read and she in turn taught me and everyone else who lived on the ranch. The newspaper, the laws, and everything else was in Spanish.

Q: Were there only Mexicans in your town?

S: Yes, everyone was Mexican. Very few people lived there and no stores could be found. To go to a store one had to travel very far on horseback.

Q: Can you tell me something about your family’s lifestyle?

S: We lived on a ranch. My father herded sheep. We had very little on the ranch and to acquire provisions we had to travel very far. Later the railroad from Willard passed through our ranch. Prior to this time, however, it was almost impossible to get to a doctor. There was only one church in Manzano.

Q: What was life like in New Mexico during this period?

S: It was very much a Mexican way of life. There were almost no Americans. The religion was Catholic and we all talked Spanish.

Q: What was school like?

S: Classes were taught in Spanish. I attended a very small school. Later my parents sent me to the convent for two years where I lived with the Sisters of Charity. I then returned to the ranch where I married at the age of sixteen.

Q: When did your father establish his ranch?

S: When I was ten years old in 1894. After I married, I left with my husband to Santa Fe.

Q: How many children did you have?

S: Eight, four females, four males.

Q: What was life in Santa Fe like?

S: We had a sheep ranch. My husband was a rancher and he knew many people. He was one of the first owners of a Ford car in Santa Fe.

Q: Where was your husband from?

S: From Albuquerque. He was born in a small area called San Tome. His father was Spanish, very handsome, with blue eyes, and looked American. His mother was a Mexican.

Q: Did your children attend schools in Santa Fe?

S: Yes, they went to American schools in Santa Fe. There was also one college for men and a convent for women. English was taught in the school, but we continued to speak only Spanish at home. We sent Alfredo, my oldest son, to college where he graduated at a young age. He had very good teachers. He then became a lawyer, but the poor little one died at the age of thirty.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Los Angeles?

S: My mother had come to Los Angeles to spend a little time, but she liked it so much that she decided to stay. My father didn’t like it, but sold his ranch anyway and the entire family moved to Los Angeles.

Q: What was Los Angeles like?

S: It was very nice. If it was like it is now, however, we would never have come. My father built this house and then added the adjacent apartments. In this house we held many grand fiestas with other people from New Mexico. There was no discrimination in Los Angeles.

Q: Do you think that Mexican customs have changed much over the years?

S: Yes, one of my sons married an American and he has changed very much; he has different ideas. I am of Mexican nationality, of Mexican parents. However, when one lives in a place like New Mexico which became a part of the United States, one is an American. By citizenship I am American, but I still feel Mexican.

Q: And do you still eat Mexican food?

S: I only cook Mexican dishes. However, today some of our young married women no longer can cook such dishes; instead, they prefer sandwiches. They no longer bother to learn like we did. We cooked with patience in order to make good meals.

Q: Does your family continue to speak Spanish?

S: Today all of my children are more or less Americanized. They know Spanish, but their children only speak English. It’s a shame. Only one or two of my grandchildren speak Spanish.

Q: Has your family participated in social organizations or political parties?

S: Yes, we have belonged to the Club Hispano-Americano with other Mexicans. I don’t belong to any political party, but my husband was a Democrat and politics was of great interest to him.

John Sandoval


Q: When and where were you born?

S: I was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1913.

Q: Where did you go to school?

S: I went to St. Michael’s School in Santa Fe. It was a Catholic boys’ school. My sisters went to a convent and lived with the nuns.

Q: What language was spoken in your home?

S: Only Spanish. Everything was in Spanish too, the courts, newspapers, police, stores. All of New Mexico spoke Spanish. I only learned English in school. As New Mexico became a state things began to change. Probably not until the 1920s did things really change to predominant use of English.

Q: Why did you leave Santa Fe?

S: My grandfather sold the ranch and in 1921 we all moved to L.A. I can remember L.A. City College was once called the University of California, Southern branch.

Q: What kind of neighborhood did you live in?

S: All nationalities lived in my neighborhood. I knew many people from New Mexico too.

Q: What type of school did you attend?

S: I went to public school. My family was very Catholic and we went to church and Sunday school. The parish was run by English-speaking priests, so through the schools and the church we learned English.

Q: Did you live comfortably?

S: Yes, my family had enough money, but others suffered, especially during the Depression.

Q: What did you consider yourself: a Mexican-American or a Mexican?

S: I called myself Mexican and I still do consider myself a Mexican even though I’m an American citizen.

Q: Can you tell me something about your family customs?

S: As I said, we were Catholics. We spoke Spanish only until we came to L.A., then we used more and more English, but only Spanish at home. We associated with many other Mexicans, at dinners and dances, for example. My mother would have liked her children to marry Mexicans. She educated my eldest brother and he became an attorney but died at age 30. That was a blow to the family. As it turned out, only two of us married Mexicans. I think my brothers and sisters have lost more of the Mexican traditions than I and my family have.

Q: Do you recall any type of discrimination during these early years in Los Angeles?

S: Yes. There were certain ballrooms, for example, which displayed signs that read “No Mexicans Allowed.” I couldn’t go into these places because I was noticeably Mexican, dark-skinned and with an accent. My sisters could go because they are fairer-skinned. At first I had an accent when I spoke English and I was made fun of so I quickly learned the correct pronunciation. Anyone with an accent was discriminated against. I also remember some controversy over the race of the Mexican people. It was ridiculous but the Supreme Court in Texas made some ruling that declared Mexicans Caucasians. I guess this was to discredit the Indian heritage and make Mexicans more “Anglo.”

Q: What kind of leaders did you have in L.A.?

S: Mr. Biscailuz was a Mexican sheriff. There were many landowners who called themselves Spaniards: the Sepulvedas, the Picos, the Verdugos, and others. I can remember in the 20s and the 30s, Main Street in L.A. was all Mexican.

Q: How did you feel about school?

S: I had one excellent teacher who was Mexican. I was always proud to be Mexican. I thought, in a way. I was more American than the others because my race was here first. I had some “gringo” friends. I remember a De Molay Club in school that discriminated against Mexicans and Catholics.

Q: Have you kept a lot of the traditional Mexican customs?

S: I have lost a lot of the language because I don’t use it much anymore. I still speak Spanish with my relatives and some friends. While I was still living at home we had a lot of the customs, food, dances, just like in New Mexico.

Q: Did you know others who weren’t as fortunate as you to have good living conditions?

S: Yes. I had some relatives who were braceros in San Jose. They were a large family. The children could not receive an education because they were always moving. They were migrant workers. My cousin looked very aged and run-down when I saw him. He told me of the hard working conditions and of the discrimination he faced for being poor and Spanish-speaking. But the Bracero Program was accepted in California even though it was exploitation.

Q: What kinds of jobs did you have?

S: During the Depression I got a job as head of the family and this qualified me for a government work project. The years 1932-1937 were very rough. In 1937 I worked for Consolidated Steel (now U.S. Steel). I worked there for one year. From 1935-1939 I was laid off.
In 1939 I went back to work there and in the 1940s we got contracts to build warships. There were a lot of Mexican workers in my plant. We got $1.48 an hour. It was set up by the government.

Q: When did you get married?

S: I was 31 years old. I worked in a service station and then as a painter until 1948. A friend got me a job as a newspaper dealer and I still have that same job.

Q: What was your family like?

S: I have live children, one girl and four boys. My children went to Catholic schools. They spoke Spanish at home before their school years, then learned English. I came to rely on English more with my business. I would have liked my children to know more Spanish, but I used English more and more. I also didn’t want them to have an accent or any trouble in school.

Q: What is your political affiliation?

S: I’m a member of the Democratic Party. I think it does more for the working class people. At least that is what I used to think. Now, I don’t see much difference in the two parties. I can partially understand the radical movement’s position of being fed up with the system. I think the Chicano and the Black movements are healthy in certain ways, but I can’t agree with the violence.

Amelia Mendoza

Q: Where were you born?

A: I was born in Yecora, Sonora, Mexico in 1901.

Q: How many children in your family?

A: Twelve: six boys and six girls.

Q: Did you go to public or private schools in Mexico?

A: The school was public, but we also went to the Catholic church and there learned religion.

Q: What was your family’s town like?

A: It was a very small town with few stores and one church. There was much agriculture and cattle raising. My father was a merchant.

Q: Do you remember the Mexican Revolution?

A: Yes, in 1910. There was much injustice at the time and we believed that the revolutionaries would change the government. Some supported Madero, while others supported Diaz. We were caught in the middle. Diaz’ troops came and robbed us. Madero’s men came and they took money away from my father because they believed he was a Diaz sympathizer. Later, Diaz’ people arrived and did the same thing thinking that my father was a Maderista. I remember a general who was a good friend of my father’s. He came one night with his troops and were about to attack our house. This was at the start of the revolution. This general had come with Villa to Sonora to destroy Diaz’ troops. We were in Yecora, far away from the battle. However, the troops passed through our town. This general’s name was Arroyo. When my father discovered who the general was, he sent my brother to greet him. We made dinner for him and he told us many things about the revolution. He was a Villista. He had known my father during the time he had worked in the mines. He did not harm our town and he explained that he had to continue the struggle with Villa against the government.

Q: Tell me about your customs at that time?

A: There were many days of fiestas, dances, and picnics. The town where I lived is now a lumber camp.

Q: Do you know more or less how your family migrated to the United States?

A: My paternal grandfather had come from Spain. He had married a Mexican. My maternal grandfather was a “mestizo:” French, Spanish, and Indian. My family came to the United States in search of work, I believe.

Q: Have you had to work?

A: Before I married, I worked as a teacher for a few years. Then my father changed occupations and we went to live in a town called Dolores in Chihuahua. There I met my husband, Francisco. I was then twenty years old. We were married in Dolores, and then we left and lived in Nacosari, Sonora. My first two daughters were born there. My husband was a blacksmith.

Q: Why did you come to Los Angeles?

A: My husband first arrived to look for work. The rest of us followed and we decided to stay.

Q: What type of work did your husband do?

A: He worked for the U.S. Spring and Bumper Company. I believe the union he later joined began in the 1940s. Ultimately, he secured good working conditions with good pay, but it was a long struggle. With the union, contracts were secured and conditions improved. He worked there for twenty-five years. Later the company was bought by another company. General Motors and Ford then introduced various changes and the services of Francisco and his fellow-workers were no longer needed. He had to find another job. He found work with the Hughes Company where he worked until he was sixty-five. He had to become a U.S. citizen to work with Hughes. This way, he could also vote.

Q: What political party do you support?

A: The Democrats because they help the workers more. I changed my citizenship in order to vote. I still feel Mexican. I preserve all of my Mexican culture in my home. We only speak Spanish within the family and only use English when necessary.

Q: Have you worked in the United States?

A: Yes, I worked in a factory many years ago. Now I work in Los Angeles as a seamstress. I have done this type of work for eighteen years.

Q: Do you think it’s important to keep your Mexican customs?

A: Yes, I have always believed this. However, my children have married and no longer only speak Spanish. Most of my grandchildren don’t speak Spanish. I have my language, my religion, my food, and I still enjoy Mexican music. When we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, we had a “mariachi” and it was a Mexican celebration.

Maria Teresa (Mendoza) Sandoval


Q: Where and when were you born?

M: I was born in Nacosari, Sonora, Mexico in 1924. I only lived there for two years when my family moved to the U.S., to California. My father was a blacksmith and he expected to find more work here. At that time we were a family of four: my sister and I and our parents. A couple of years later my younger brother was born.

Q: What are some of your early recollections of Los Angeles?

M: I remember living in a large family, with my aunts and uncles and grandparents. We all lived together at 50th and Figueroa in Los Angeles. We spoke only Spanish.

Q: When did you learn English?

M: When I entered kindergarten. It was easy for me because I had a real patient teacher who spent extra time with me.

Q: Did your parents learn English?

M: My father must have learned it at work, but I never knew that he spoke it until I was older. At home we always spoke just Spanish. My mother learned English from my sister and I. My mother sewed at home and we interpreted for her. She knew more English than we thought.

Q: What types of jobs did your parents have?

M: My father worked as a blacksmith for a U.S. company. At first, my mother worked in a factory and then when we moved out of my grandparents’ home she began to sew. I heard my mother say how she worked very hard as a seamstress in a factory. She also said she used to surprise her superiors by knowing more than they expected her to know. My father worked his way up in his job but never was made supervisor because he didn’t speak English.

Q: Of what religious background was your family?

M: Catholic. We attended Catechism classes until the 6th grade. Then we went to Catholic schools. There were a few other Mexican families.

Q: Did you belong to any organizations?

M: In high school I belonged to school clubs and a Catholic girls’ organization.

Q: What have you retained of the Mexican traditions?

M: Well, first my love of language and the country where I was born. I made a trip to Mexico when I was eighteen years old. I saw the small mining town that I was born in, in Sonora. We got along well with our relatives in Sonora but I felt a little strange. They thought of us as something special, being from the U.S. They admired that I was the same as they, Mexican, but their reactions to me made me realize that they saw me as an American.

Q: Do you feel that your attitudes toward the family and other customs are Mexican or American?

M: I think that I’m a mixture of both cultures. I love the warmth and hospitality of the Mexican people but I enjoy the privileges of being an American citizen. I didn’t become a citizen until recently—five years ago. I intended to do it earlier, but never got around to it.

Q: Do you consider yourself Mexican, Mexican-American, or American?

M: I am a Mexican. I never have put down Mexican-American. I feel Mexican because I was born in Mexico and I feel attached to my Mexican heritage.

Q: What about your attitudes toward marriage and family?

M: I married a Mexican because I loved him and felt that we had a lot in common. I like a large family although now I can see a need to cut down on family size.

Q: How do you feel about California’s history as part of Mexico?

M: The Mexicans were cheated. I would have liked to see more of our culture and language preserved.

Q: Have you kept your traditions?

M: I have somewhat — my parents kept more of it than I have. We never lived in a totally Mexican community. There were a variety of nationalities.

Q: Do you feel that it’s important to carry on these traditions with your children?

M: I felt that they should know the language, the culture, and the country. I feel badly now that they haven’t acquired more of it than they have. It became harder and harder for me to keep up the language at home, for example, because I spoke more English with my husband.

Q: What types of jobs have you held?

M: Before I was married I was a dentist’s receptionist. Most of his clientele was Mexican, so I translated a great deal. Now I work for See’s Candies. I’m a part-time worker. I pack candy and I translate and interpret for the supervisors. I know that I have an easier life than other Mexican people.

Q: Do you belong to a union at work?

M: Yes, but it doesn’t do much. It maintains a base salary and then the raises come yearly. I don’t get all the benefits because I’m a seasonal worker. This is fine for me because my husband’s job supports us, but I see other workers needing more money and more benefits than they are getting.

Q: Do you belong to a political party?

M: At one time I was a Democrat, but now I am a registered Republican — the only one in the family.

Q: What are your opinions of the Chicano Movement?

M: I don’t know what Chicana means — I feel Mexican in my heart and if that’s what a Chicana is then I guess I am one too. I think like anything radical it can be overdone. I think some ideas about bringing out the culture are good. But I’m against a violent approach.

Q: Do you ever recall being called Spanish?

M: I think of myself as a Mexican and some Mexicans have called themselves Spaniards. For example, families in L.A., like the Verdugos and others, used this label. I guess some feel it is superior to be Spanish — I don’t know why. Some of the fiestas in California were called Spanish. I thought because of the language. Now, I don’t know why they were termed this. It should have been different.

Q: What organizations have you belonged to?

M: I’m a member of the “Purisima,” a charitable organization in Ensenada made up of Mexican women. Also I’m in an organization called “las Carmelitas.” My husband used to belong to a club called the “Solteros” before we were married. They would have dances and festivals.

Oral interviews with families such as the Sandovals and the Mendozas contain useful information about Mexican life in the United States. The historian’s job, however, must transcend being a recorder of recollections and impressions. It is important to analyze the interviews for both technique and content. While Ms. Salazar’s interviews provided interesting data on cultural lifestyles and occupations, she failed to pay sufficient attention to chronology. It is difficult to understand at times what historical periods the interviewers refer to in their responses. Manuela Sandoval mentioned that she and her family moved to Los Angeles from New Mexico, but we have no idea in what year. Not until the interview with her son, John, do we discover that the migration took place in 1921. Another example concerns the Amelia Mendoza interview. When asked her husband’s occupation when they first arrived in Los Angeles, presumably after the Mexican Revolution since no specific years are mentioned, Amelia replied that he worked for the U.S. Spring and Bumper Company and that he had joined a union in the 1940s. What transpired between the time of arrival (1920s ?) and the 1940s, we have no way of knowing since Ms. Salazar did not inquire. The omission results in a historical gap in Francisco Mendoza’s job career. Because the persons being questioned may not possess a sense of history, the interviewer must attempt to place responses in their proper historical period.

Ms. Salazar also failed to probe into certain incidents which might have shed more light on these persons’ lives. Although both families resided in Los Angeles during the 1930s, Ms. Salazar did not ask about the large repatriations and deportations of Mexicans which took place. Were the Sandovals and Mendozas aware of these actions? Questions might also have been raised about the “Zoot Suit Riots” in Los Angeles in 1943. Other issues could have concerned additional information on economic activity, on neighborhood conditions, and on different aspects of their everyday lives. The lack of in-depth details emphasizes the importance of interviewers possessing a strong historical background about the population being studied. Without such a foundation, important historical questions will go unasked.

Although the interviews might have been more complete, they do indicate an important aspect of Mexican life in the United States. Namely, the contradiction between consciousness and historical reality. Manuela Sandoval, for example, believed that little or no discrimination existed in Los Angeles during the 1920s. Yet the decade witnessed both a significant growth in the city’s Mexican population and an increase in racial and cultural hostility toward the new immigrants. The Sandovals, since they arrived in California with more financial resources than other Mexicans, appear to have avoided the more severe forms of discrimination. In Mrs. Sandoval’s world there may have been no discrimination, but such could not be said of the entire Mexican population. Her son, John, did remember that he had been turned away from certain Los Angeles ballrooms which barred entrance to Mexicans. He also recognized that job prejudice existed for “braceros” like his San Jose relatives. Yet despite his own occupational problems, John and others of the Mexican-American generation believed that through a process of acculturation and “Americanization,” these barriers would be overcome. John regretted that his children spoke little Spanish, but believed their correct use and pronunciation of English would spare them the discriminatory acts he had faced.

John Sandoval’s own work promotion from a WPA employee during the 1930s to a newspaper distributor has likewise influenced his consciousness. While he admitted that Mexicans have been exposed to economic hardships as well as discrimination, John accepted the possibility of economic and social advance for Mexicans. The Sandovals’ belief in upward mobility is similar to that held by other Mexicans in the United States. Since they did undergo certain economic gains north of the border, the Mexican immigrant and his children have had faith in the “American Dream.”10 What is becoming apparent to historians of the Mexican experience, however, is that the Mexicans’ mobility has been limited in relation to the Anglo American population. Few Mexicans in comparison to Anglo Americans can yet be found in professional or managerial positions, although some shift has occurred from common laborers to semi-skilled and even skilled workers. In certain cities such as El Paso and San Antonio with large Mexican populations, the Mexicans still monopolize the majority of low skilled jobs. Mobility has taken place, but at a lower rate than that of the Anglo. While the continued influx of Mexican immigrants influences the disparity, figures reveal that even the more “Americanized” second generation Mexican-American has not been as successful as his Anglo American counterpart.” Nevertheless, the Mexican’s ability over the years to have some economic mobility has influenced an ideology of economic, political, and cultural accommodation in the hope of greater improvements and one which rejects “radical” alternatives. The growing contradiction, however, between the “promises of American life” and the Mexicans’ limited opportunities to achieve them has produced the current tensions within the Mexican American communities. Young Chicanos exhibit an increasing skepticism about the fulfillment of such “promises” under the present American system. Hopefully, through the use of oral history we can better appreciate the historical roots of these contradictions.



1. See, for example, Alice and Staughton Lynd, Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers (Boston, 1973); and Studs Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (New York, 1970); Terkel, Working (New York, 1972); and Terkel, Division Street: America (New York, 1967).

2. For economic conditions in Mexico which “pushed” Mexicans into the United States, see Friedrich Katz, “Labor Conditions on Haciendas in Porfirian Mexico: Some Trends and Tendencies,” The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 54 (Feb. 1974), pp. 1-47.

3. See Victor S. Clark, “Mexican Labor in the United States,” Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Labor Bulletin, (No. 78, 1908) reprinted in Carlos E. Cortes, et. al., eds., Mexican Labor in the United States (New York, 1974), pp. 466-522 and Gerald D. Nash, The American West in the Twentieth Century: A Short History of an Urban Oasis (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973).

4. For an early study of Mexican immigrants, see Manuel Gamio, The Mexican Immigrant, his Lifestory (Chicago, 1931), reprinted ed., (New York, 1971); and Gamio, Mexican Immigration to the United States (Chicago, 1930), reprinted ed., (New York, 1969).

5. On the questions of consciousness and accommodation among the Mexican immigrants, see Mario T. Garcia, Unpublished Dissertation, “Obreros: The Mexican Workers of El Paso, 1900-1920,” University of California, San Diego, 1975, pp. 203-209; also see David Weber, Chapter V, “Accommodation, Assimilation, and Persistence,” in Weber, Foreigners in Their Native Land (Albuquerque, 1973), pp. 203-225. Juan Gomez-Quiñones, on the other hand, inaccurately suggests that the prevailing characteristic of Mexican labor in the U.S. between 1900 and 1920 was militancy as expressed in strike actions. Yet most Mexicans then, as now, did not participate in these movements. See Gomez-Quiñones, “The First Step: Chicano Labor Conflict and Organizing, 1900-1920,” Aztlán: Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts, Vol. 3, 1973, pp. 13-45.

6. For the role of the schools in the Mexican “barrios” see Garcia, “Obreros,” pp. 173-187.

7. For Mexican American ideological orientation see Edward D. Garza, “LULAC: League of United Latin-American Citizens,” M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State Teachers College, 1951; reprinted (San Francisco, 1972). Also see the novel Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal (New York, 1959; republished 1970).

8. For occupational statistics regarding Mexican Americans see Oscar J. Martinez, “Border Boom Town: Ciudad Juarez Since 1880,” unpublished dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1975; also see Refugio I. Rochin, “Economic Deprivation of Chicanos-Continuing Neglect in the Seventies,” Aztlán: Chicano Journal of the Social Sciences and the Arts, Vol. 4, (Spring, 1973), pp. 85-102; Laura E. Arroyo, “Industrial and Occupational Distribution of Chicana Workers,” Ibid., Vol. 4 (Fall, 1973), pp. 343-382; and Tim D. Kone, “Structural Change and Chicano Employment in the Southwest, 1950-1970,” Ibid., pp. 383-398.

9. In his recent study of Boston, Stephen Thernstrom referred to this process as “active and structural discrimination.” See Thernstrom, The Other Bostonians: Poverty and Progress in the American Metropolis, 1880-1970 (Cambridge, 1973), p. 218. Also see Chapter Eight, “Blacks and Whites,” pp. 176-219.

10. See Eugene Nelson, Pablo Cruz and the American Dream: The Experiences of an Undocumented Immigrant From Mexico (Salt Lake City, 1975); for a treatment of working class consciousness in the American Labor movement see Stanley Aronowitz, False Promises (New York, 1973).

11. See Martinez “Border Boom Town,” and Garcia, “Obreros.”


Mario T. Garcia is an Assistant Professor of History and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, San Diego and taught at San Diego State University from 1970 to 1974. Professor Garcia’s latest publications include “The Californios of San Diego and the Politics of Accommodation, 1846-1860,” Aztlán International Journal of Chicano Studies (Vol. 6, 1975) and “Racial Dualism in the El Paso Labor Market, 1890-1920,” Aztlán: Special Issue on Chicano Labor (Vol. 7, 1975). Dr. Mario T. Garcia has also donated the Mario T. Garcia Collection in Chicano Studies to the Historical Society’s Research Library.