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Teaching Guide: Exploring the Bracero Program

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Mexican Labor and World War II: The Bracero Program, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Discuss how the reaction to the Bracero Program, as seen in the letter to the Dallas newspaper, the denied request, and the transcribed Los Angeles Times story, mirrors present-day labor debates. How does it relate to the current Mexican border crisis?

  2. Look over the the government report, the Marquez oral history, the Gradias oral history, the letter to the Dallas newspaper, the denied request, and the transcribed Los Angeles Times story. What do these resources show are the major issues in debates about the Bracero Program? Who are some of the key players in these debates and what are their positions?

  3. Look at the seven photographs by Floyd Halleck Haskins in this set. What do these photos say about work and living conditions for braceros? What is the photographer’s point of view on the program?

  4. Use the items in this set as evidence to explain the kinds of discrimination braceros faced in the United States. How did this discrimination impact their everyday lives?

Classroom activities

Pretend you are the bracero writing to his family back home. Using images in this set for details, how would you describe your work day? How would you describe labor issues in America?

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