Tag Archives: migrant workers

Reparation for Mexican and Filipino Farm Workers

Bibliographic information: Oakland Museum of California: Reparation for Mexican and Filipino Farm Workers. http://www.museumca.org/picturethis/timeline/depression-era-1930s/migrant-farm-workers/info

Brief description: This collection, as the title suggests, is about the reparation for Mexican and Filipino farm workers to their native lands. Mexican and even Mexican American farm workers were rounded up by officials and sent in busloads over the boarder. These resources are from the Oakland Museum of California. This website has a collection of photographs showing living and working conditions of Mexican and Mexican American agriculture laborers in the 1930’s. Each photograph has a short description, as well as quotes from people who experienced or witnessed the conditions. There is also a brief history of Mexican immigration from 1900-1930s, which discusses working and living conditions, exploitation, discrimination and government regulations on immigration.  A museum of California seems to be a reliable source for information on what happens in California.

Qualitative Analysis: There are references and allusions to cultural and historical elements. The economical climate is briefly explained and basic background information is given to aid in the reader’s comprehension. Language closely follows reader’s linguistic base and when academic vocabulary is used it is explained. Several themes are explored. The text is about the early 1900’s so there is distance between the readers and the experiences depicted on the website. However, some students may have family who are or were migrant farm workers. This is more likely in communities with large minority populations. Most students will have heard about workers rights and that agriculture works are often not treated well, but most will not have first (or even second) hand knowledge. Sentence structure contains many complex sentences with several subordinate phrases or clauses and transition words. Photographs are the focal point of the online exhibit and the text offers a bit of historical background to help readers interpret the primary source images.

Subject area: History, Social Studies

Personal thoughts: This website has primary sources of photographs which show living and working conditions of farm workers in the early 1900’s. I think seeing actual photographs of the time will help students visualize what the workers experienced. There is also background information about these workers and how they were treated during that time period.

Subjects/themes: immigration, history, great depression, dust bowl, migrant farm workers, reparations, Mexicans, Filipinos

Awards: Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Series information: Picture This: California Perspectives on American History

Character names/descriptions: Migrant workers featured in the photographs of this exhibit are unidentified.

High interest annotation: Find out about the lives of farm workers in the early 1900’s through historical information and a collection of photographs documenting the time period.

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The Mexican Migration Project: Oral Histories

Bibliographic information: The Mexican Migration Project: Oral Histories. http://mmp.opr.princeton.edu/expressions/stories-en.aspx

Brief description: This site shares the findings of a research project to better understand the migration process of people from Mexico to the United States. It contains oral histories in both English and Spanish, which are grouped into the following categories: boarder crossing and working, everyday life and return and those who stay. This seems like it would be a great resource for a Spanish, History or Language Arts class to hear the voices of the immigrants first hand, as they tell their own stories. Text structure and language used is moderately complex. There is also data about migrant workers’ employment, family, earnings, etc. This project is headed by professors at the University of Guadalajara and Princeton University, both of which are well know Universities.

Qualitative Analysis: The vocabulary adheres to the readers linguistic base. Register is familiar and casual. There is distance between the readers experience and those of the text. Unless readers are immigrants, their experiences will not closely relate to the text. The stories are all told in first person and are limited to the perspectives and viewpoints of the narrator, as they tell their own stories of coming to the North. There are a few instances where Spanish words are used mixed in with the English, but the meaning can be found from context. Since the stories are told by native Spanish speakers, some of whom had to quit school at the elementary level, vocabulary is sometimes limited in English. Also, the sentence structure is mostly simple or run on. Some mistakes are found in translations, such as ‘medium class’ instead of ‘middle class’ and other minor vocabulary usage issues. The grammatical and vocabulary mistakes may cause some readers to slow down and read more carefully to fully understand.

Subject area: History, Spanish, English

Personal thoughts: I like this website because it has primary sources and you can read the stories of the immigrants in their own words and find out about their lives directly from the source, both in Spanish and English.

Subjects/themes: immigration, history, migrant farm workers, Spanish

Character names/descriptions: Migrants Hector Liñán, Victor Villa, Miguel Gutiérrez and Baudelio Rosas among others, share their stories of going from Mexico to ‘El Nord’

High interest annotation: Hear migrants’ stories collected here in their own words, both in Spanish and English.

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Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941

Bibliographic information: Library of Congress: Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941. www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/dust-bowl/

Brief description: This website has links to many different resources, in multiple formats, such as photographs and interviews with migrant workers in California during the Great Depression. Two journalists visited migrant agricultural work communities and attempted to record the conditions and experiences of the workers. The stories shared by the workers are includes as audio recordings made during interviews and transcripts of the conversations, as well as photographs. There are also musical recordings. The site has a search function, which allows you to see which standards align with the resource. It is a quality source because it is a primary source with first hand accounts of life as a migrant field worker, told by the workers themselves. It is compiled with other resources on the topic by the Library of Congress, which is a respected institution.

Qualitative Analysis: A background of historical knowledge on the Great Depression, migrant workers, labor conditions and tensions in the early 1900’s would all be a useful base for better understanding the photographs, narratives, songs and factors at play in the migrant workers situation. Language is mainly explicit and easy to understand. However, references are made to cultural elements of the time, place and people. Several themes are portrayed. Experiences will likely be unfamiliar to students, though some may be immigrants and able to connect to the experience of coming to the US, though not necessarily life as a worker in the fields. Vocabulary is conversational and familiar and sentences are mostly simple and compound in the oral accounts recorded in this collection. Photographs enhance the audio recordings, but are not necessary for understanding. Just as the audio recordings enhance the photographs, but are not integral to appreciating the photographs. Pictures also include captions to aid in comprehension.

Subject area: History, Social Studies

Personal thoughts: This website is interesting because it has primary sources and you can hear the stories of the immigrants in their own words and have a first hand account of what life was like at that time. I think it would be interesting to compare the life of migrant workers during the Great Depression and now. Sadly I don’t think a whole lot has changed in the decades since these accounts were recorded.

Subjects/themes: immigration, history, great depression, dust bowl, migrant farm workers

Series information: Voices of the Dust Bowl

Character names/descriptions: Jose Flores and Augustus Martinez, two farm workers who share their story in audio recordings. Photographs and music from unnamed workers.

High interest annotation: Hear music performed in work camps, by migrant workers during the Great Depression, as well as seeing photographs and hearing first person accounts of life working in the fields.

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Esperanza Rising

Bibliographic Information:

Ryan, Pam Muñoz (2000). Esperanza rising. New York: Scholastic Press.

Plot Description: Esperanza is a wealthy young girl whose family owns El Rancho de las Rosas in Mexico. All her life she has been waited on by servants and given everything she could desire. Then one day her life changes forever. Her beloved Papa is killed and his evil brothers threaten Esperanza and Mama if they do not do as they are told. So they flee to America under the cover of darkness with their former servants. In America their lives are vastly different. Mama and Esperanza live in a farm labor camp and must learn to work for a living, and work hard. At first Esperanza is left to take care of the babies while the others work, something which is very difficult for her, since she has never had to take care of herself before, let alone others. Then when Mama is taken ill, Esperanza must find the strength to work and be El Patron of her family. Set against the backdrop of Great Depression Era California and workers strikes, this is a story of family, community and hope.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 750L, ATOS Book Level: 5.3, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), AR Points: 6

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The organization of the text is clear and chronological. The conventionality of the text is fairly complex in that it employs many examples of figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and personification throughout the story to paint a vivid picture of the scenery and Esperanza’s experiences. The vocabulary is mostly familiar and conversational, including dialogue. It also has Spanish words mixed into the English narrative, but they are always in italic font, so they are easy to recognize and the English equivalent always follows. Sentences are simple, complex and compound phrases. Themes are clear, but conveyed with some subtlety. The experiences are not common to most readers, though some students will have immigrated from other countries, so be able to relate to some experiences of being new to a country and a few may know what it is like to completely start over. There are some references to historical and cultural events, such as the Mexican Revolution and the Great Depression, but everything that is essential for understanding the story is explained.

Content Area: English, Literature, History

Content Area Standard: History–Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools

California: A Changing State-4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cul­tural development since the 1850s.

  1. Describe rapid American immigration, internal migration, settlement, and the growth of towns and cities (e.g., Los Angeles).
  2. Discuss the effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II on California.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature

Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

English Language Arts Standards: Writing

Text Types and Purposes: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students research the Mexican Revolution and the Great Depression (in particular finding out about the farm workers in California and forced repatriation). Have students write a letter to Abuelita explaining what life is like in America. Analyze how Esperanza changes over the course of the novel and what brings about those changes. Have students record examples of figurative language throughout the story. Chart the ‘mountains and valleys’ of Esperanza as the story unfolds.

Supporting Digital Content: 





Awards: YALSA Top Ten, Americas Award for Children’s Literature, Smithsonian’s Notable Book, NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, Jane Addams Book Award/Honor Books, Pura Belpré Award/Honor Book, Jefferson Cup Award/Honor, Publishers Weekly Best Book, Judy Lopez Memorial Award: Children’s Literature

Character names/descriptions: Esperanza is a young girl who loses her life of comfort in Mexico and must begin again in America. Mama is her mother who tries to be strong in her new role as head of the family, but finds it increasingly difficult. Miguel, their former servant whose family helps Esperanza and Mama escape to the US. Abuelita, Esperanza’s grandmother who stays behind in Mexico. Marta, an outspoken field worker who wants better wages for workers and helps organizes a strike.

High interest annotation: After terrible tragedy takes her father and her home, Esperanza must listen to her Grandmother’s words and rise like a phoenix from the ashes of her privileged former life to start again.

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