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
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.