Steve Velasquez


Bracero Oral History Project

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Sally Gutierrez McQuinn was born in Mexico, and her parents came to the United States in 1920, when she was only a few months old; she was raised in Gilroy, California; in 1941, she was married; shortly thereafter, she began working as a bookkeeper, which put her in frequent contact with braceros; she later became the first certified interpreter in Salinas, California, which also allowed her to interact with braceros on a regular basis.

Summary of Interview

Ms. Gutierrez briefly describes her childhood and family; in the early 1940s she was hired as a bookkeeper for an operational office in Gilroy, California; she was in charge of payroll for the braceros, and she saw firsthand that 10 percent was discounted from their salary; it was her understanding that there was an agreement between the United States and Mexico that the money would be mailed to Mexico so that the braceros would have it available to them when they returned; bracero complaints went through her, because she was the only one in the office; she recalls one instance when a grower fed the braceros eggs, ham, biscuits, and jam, but they would not eat it, because they thought the ham was spoiled and the jam was nothing but orange peels; all they needed was someone to explain to them; in 1945, she became the first certified interpreter in Salinas, California, and worked primarily with cases involving the bracero program; she briefly talks about a tragic train accident, where she spoke with police and the men who survived; consequently, it launched a congressional investigation and was one of the biggest cases she handled; moreover, she also discusses a situation involving Southern Pacific, an incident where there was a fire on a bus, and yet another case that involved banning the use of the short hoe; in her opinion, braceros were never really appreciated, even when they were need, and once the war was over, they were treated even worse.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

46 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1575

Transcript Number

No. 1575

Length of Transcript

14 pages


Myrna Avalos

Interview Number

No. 1575

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