Project Title:The Bracero Oral History Project Institution Name:California State University, Channel Islands
Innovation Category:Research and Regional Stewardship
Project Director:Jose Alamillo, Director Contact Information:805-437-2685,
Project Description:In 2008, California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI) joined the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History to document the history of Braceros. The Bracero History Project collected over 700 interviews and dozens of photographs, documents and artifacts that tell the story of the largest guest-worker program in U.S. history. CSUCI offered service-learning courses to students in Chicano/a Studies, Spanish and Art to produce a local exhibition “The Braceros of Ventura County” to complement the national exhibition. Students, including descendants of Braceros, documented the lives of ex-Braceros, scanned photos and documents, organized town-hall meetings, and conducted exhibition tours.
- To conduct oral history interviews of ex-Braceros and their families.
- To build community partners with local museums, high schools, and community groups through the Bracero Oral History Project.
- To design a local exhibition (Braceros of Ventura County) to complement the national traveling exhibit (Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964)
- To train students as docents for the Bracero exhibitions.
- Collected 72 oral history interviews, transcribed and translated 25 interviews, and collected 30 photographs and documents and 10 artifacts; Held the grand opening of the national traveling exhibition and the local exhibition on Sept. 8, 2010; Developed a partnership with Oxnard Unified School District’s Migrant Education Program and will host “Migrant Family Day” on Oct. 9th 2010 at CSUCI.
- Formation of a scholarship fund for the children and/or grandchildren of Braceros; Publish an edited volume of oral history interviews and photographs collected with the proceeds donated to the Bracero scholarship fund.
- Students needed to be fluent in Spanish language to conducted interviews.
- Transportation was a problem for students who conducted interviews.
- Scheduling the interview was problem for students who were full-time students and worked part-time
- Some Braceros viewed our oral history project with some suspicion and confused it with ongoing efforts to recuperate 10% of the wages that were never returned to the Braceros
- Limited funding prevented faculty and students to extend the project beyond Ventura County.
Evaluation Approach:Each service-learning course in Spanish, Art, and Chicano/a studies conducted a survey of the project as part of the course evaluation. Director conducted focus group interviews with students, interviewees, and community partners to evaluate the project. Students, faculty, and community members evaluated the exhibitions by filling out a comment card.
Potential for Replication:The project is replicable in any community with a large Hispanic population and in any university with student-service learning courses.
Additional Resources:Center for History and New Media’s Bracero History Archive www.braceroarchive.org CEO-to-CEO Contact:Richard Rush
, Presidentrichard.firstname.lastname@example.orgDate Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011