Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Felipe Hernández was born on June 6, 1927, in Coneto de Comonfort, Durango, México; at an early age, he began working in the mines by completing simple tasks, and he later worked in construction; in 1952, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked in Texas, picking cotton, grapefruits, oranges, and peas; he continued working in the program until 1959.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Hernández briefly recalls his family, childhood, and early adolescence; the poverty he experienced growing up coupled with his desire to earn money and have a better life led him to enroll in the Bracero Program in 1952; he chronicles the hiring and contracting process he went through in Durango, Durango, México, including the requirements for enlisting and the medical exams he endured; from there he was transported to the border via bus; as a bracero, he worked in Texas, picking cotton, grapefruits, oranges, and peas; he explains how the various tasks were carried out, the different events that transpired throughout the course of a typical work day, contract amendments and extensions, the treatment he received from the foremen, and the methods of payment; in addition, he goes on to describe daily life on the farm, as well as the food, housing, furniture, weekend trips into town, recreational activities, and how he sent money home to his family in México; for him, working in Texas was not a good experience; he also mentions that there were many braceros who preferred to work in any state other than Texas; overall, he does admit that being a bracero had its definite benefits.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Felipe Hernández Zapata by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1005," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.