Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José Vidaña was born on February 15, 1923, in Cuencamé, Durango, México; he was an only child; at the age of two, his father died; he worked in agriculture from age eight until he was twenty; in 1942, he enlisted in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas, California, Michigan, Texas, and Washington; he picked apples, cotton, grapes, pears, peas, pickles, potatoes, prunes, strawberries, and sugar beets; he did these activities until 1960.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Vidaña grew up with his mother after his father, a general in the Mexican Revolution, died; he remembers the Cristero Revolution, and explains why the conflict began; a bracero from 1942 to 1960, he worked in Arkansas, California, Michigan, Texas, and Washington; he describes the hiring process at the contracting center in Durango, Durango, México; additionally, he discusses the medical exams he endured, a train trip he took to the border, and his time at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; he recalls their arrival at a military camp in Washington state, their daily activities on a pea cannery, and their work on farms; furthermore, he states what kind of clothing they had, their housing, and the food they prepared; he also details the fears braceros had about World War II; moreover, he explains the good treatment they received from Americans during weekend outings, the relationship braceros had with Japanese workers, and visits from representatives of the Mexican consulate to their camps; he discusses feeling homesick, the benefits of being a bracero, his decision to stay in México, and his positive memories of the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Length of Transcript
Interview with José Isidro Vidaña Canales by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1025," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.