Violeta Domínguez


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

José Ortiz was born on March 25, 1934, in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; his parents were farmers, and he had six brothers and three sisters; when he was eight years old, he went to school for roughly six months before leaving to help his family with the farming duties; in 1954, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked picking crops in Arkansas and Texas.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Ortiz describes his childhood and adolescence; he initially learned about the Bracero Program through radio advertisements, and in 1954, he decided to enlist; in order to begin the hiring process, he and his brother traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe what he went through at the center, including the huge crowds, waiting time, medical exams, provisions, and transportation services; upon crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, he underwent a second set of medical exams, which consisted of blood samples and a delousing process; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas and Texas, where he primarily picked crops; he explains what life was like in the work camps, while detailing how the workers would go about preparing their food; in addition, he discusses how he would send money home to his family and how he would go shopping to buy them gifts during his spare time; he also mentions that although he had several opportunities to arrange for legal residency in the United States, he preferred to stay in his hometown of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

88 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1061

Transcript Number

No. 1061

Length of Transcript

69 pages

Interview Number

No. 1061

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.