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Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964: Lesson Plans

This is an online educational guide including resources and lesson plans that will help you integrate the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibition and program into your curriculum.

Lesson Plans

Discover interesting lesson plans for grade levels 6-12 that can help you integrate the exhibit and the program into your curriculum.


Would you like to bring your high school class to view the exhibit and/or attend the programs?  

Would you like to discuss ideas for incorporating the exhibit and program into classes, including assignments, in-class activities and extra credit opportunities for program participation?  

Please contact Atkins Librarian Amanda Binder to help coordinate your visit or to discuss ideas.

We need your feedback!  If you do incorporate the exhibit, program and/or lesson plans into your classes, please take a moment to share with us. 

Film Activity: Documentary

Time: 57:53

Available through Films on Demand:

Access: Public Library (CML)

Access: Atkins Library

ACTIVITY: Screen in class segments of the film over the course of several weeks. Have students write reflection papers at the end of each screening that builds upon their understanding of the Bracero program from the film and any supplementary readings (secondary and/or primary) week to week.

Digital Archives Activity: Primary Source

Bracero History Archive

Collection of oral histories, photos, and objects documenting the history of the Bracero program, a little-known chapter of American history in which an estimated two million Mexican men came to the United States between 1942 and 1964 on short-term labor contracts. Browse more than 600 oral histories and numerous objects, use social bookmarking tools to share resources, add notes, make a poster using items from the archive, and contribute to the archive by adding personal stories about the Bracero program. Targets grades 6-12.

UNC Charlotte instructors can also reference the Atkins Library Online Resources tab

Feedback Form

Film Activity: Primary Source

Time: 18:56

ACTIVITY: Screen in class and have students answer questions about this primary source.  Who created this film and why?  Who is the intended audience for this film?  What questions are not answered or addressed by this film that you would like to learn more about?  You could then assign students to research these questions.  This primary source partners well with other primary sources from the Bracero History Archive and engages students in critical thinking.

Readings by Topic

Mexican Immigration and Public Health

Molina, Natalia. "Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and US Public Health Practices in the 20th Century." American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 6 (2011): 1024-31.

Access: Public Library

Access: Atkins Library