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Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964: Online Resources

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.

Online resources*

NC Live: Education and teacher resources (Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library access)

FILMS: Films on Demand digital collection and the NC Live Video Collection

RESEARCH: ProQuest Research Library

Bittersweet Harvest Online Exhibit

Online exhibit telling the little-known chapter of American history in which labor shortages caused by World War II, led to an estimated two million Mexican men being recruited on short-term labor contracts to work on U.S. farms and railroads. This agreement became known as the bracero program. Presented in English and Spanish, the experiences of these men are brought to life through photographs and quotes from oral history interviews.

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

Harvest of Dignity (with Spanish Subtitles)

Harvest of Dignity is a original documentary created in 2011 by SAF, the Farmworker Advocacy Network, and Minnow Media. It focuses on the lives and work of farmworkers in North Carolina, providing an in-depth portrait of the people who harvest our food today.

You can also explore other short films by Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF). SAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change.

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

Films on Demand

Films included in Films on Demand that you can assign your students to watch in class or as part of an assignment.

Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program (2010)
Shedding light on the current debate over immigration reform and the use of “guest workers” in American agriculture...

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)

A Walled America (2006)
Using voices from both sides of the illegal immigration debate, this documentary examines the prevalence of vigilante groups that patrol the U.S. border and looks at the rising power of anti-immigration lobbyists.

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)

Mexican Migrant Farm Laborers Immigrate to the United States ca. 1950
Short clips (1:17) of Mexican migrant farm laborers from the WPA Film Library.

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)

Movers & Company: Fighting for Farmworkers (2013)
Despite miracles of agricultural progress and innovation over the decades, the harsh lives and working conditions of migrant laborers have changed very little...

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)

El Contrato: The Contract (2003)
Mexican citizens working in the United States and Canada can face difficult conditions, even when they are employed legally...

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)

The San Miguel Gate and Issues in US Immigration Policy: Dan Rathers Reports on Immigration (2013)

Access: Atkins Library
Access: Public Library (CML)