Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alberto Miguel Marcial came from a wealthy family and had five siblings; his father and grandfather worked in agriculture and owned a lot of land; when he was two years old, his father died; his grandfather later passed away as well, leaving his mother alone; Alberto went to school very briefly, and later as an adult he learned to read, write, and speak English; as a bracero, he worked in California and Colorado, picking beets, cantaloupe, onions, and potatoes; although he worked illegally for a time in the United States, he was able to obtain legal documentation and eventually become a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Marcial briefly mentions his family and childhood; his father and grandfather died, leaving his mother alone, but she later remarried; Alberto’s step-father worked as a bracero, and when he returned from a contract, Alberto decided to leave as well; he walked for two days to get a contract in Oaxaca, México; from there he was transported by train to Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, where he stayed for a few days; when leaving Oaxaca, people told him to buy cigarettes if he could, because they were scarce in the United States due to the war; he was able to sell them to soldiers and make some money; as a bracero, he worked in California and Colorado, picking beets, cantaloupe, onions, and potatoes; he goes on to detail various worksites, living arrangements, housing, amenities, provisions, friendships, daily routines, duties, treatment, recreational activities, and correspondence with family members; in addition, he mentions that for the first fifteen days of one of his contracts, he and other men ate at a restaurant every day until they had earned enough money to buy their own food; when his contract in Colorado ended he asked for a transfer to Fresno, California, so he could find his brother, which he eventually did; sometime after the program ended, he worked illegally in the United States, but he was caught by immigration officials; they helped him obtain legal documentation, and he ultimately became a U.S. citizen.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Alberto Miguel Marcial by Jackie Martínez, 2006, "Interview no. 1154," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.