Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Salvador Morales Quiroz was born October 28, 1931, on the Isla de Janitzio, Michoacán, México; his father was a fisherman; he was the fourth born of his five siblings; in addition, he had two other sisters that died when they were still babies, and two of his brother later passed away as adults; Salvador eventually married in 1951; during the midfifties, he enlisted as a bracero, and he later obtained another contract in 1960; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas picking and pacing cotton and lettuce.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Morales talks about going to school as a child and how he primarily spoke Purépeche or Tarasco and very little Spanish; growing up, he heard about the bracero program and how men earned more money in the United States, especially given the dollar to peso ratio; during the midfifties, he decided to enlist as a bracero, and he later obtained another contract in 1960; he mentions getting on the list of available workers and waiting for a month before leaving; because he knew he would buy clothes in the United States he only took a small bag with one or two changes of clothing with him; he also recalls the contracting process, which included being stripped and examined; his hands were checked for calluses, which he had, because he was a fisherman; he told officials he was more experienced working in the fields than he actually was; while he was gone, his wife stayed with his parents; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas picking and pacing cotton and lettuce; he also details the different worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations and treatment; his first contract took him to Pecos, Texas, where he learned how to pick cotton and cook; when he spoke in Purépeche, others who did not know the language made fun of him and called him names; as a result, some chose not to speak in their language, because they were embarrassed; trips into town were reserved solely for purchasing provisions, but the stores also sold other goods; he bought his wife a pair of earrings as a gift rather than clothing, because the styles were too different; moreover, he briefly mentions what his life was like after the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Services
Interview with Salvador Morales Quiroz by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1443," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.