Ohio University Libraries is hosting an exhibit titled, “Los Braceros: The Photographs of the Hermanos Mayo Collective,” a photographic essay of Mexican men emigrating to another country, the U.S., for work. The exhibit, which is traveling throughout the nation, is on display in the Center for International Collections on the first floor of Alden Library from February 20 through the end of March 2019.
In August 1942, the governments of Mexico and the United States ratified the Mexican Farm Labor Program Agreement, also known as the Bracero Program, which brought millions of Mexican workers facing high unemployment in their home country to the United States for short-term employment.
With many of the U.S. men engaged in the military and factory work, there was a great demand for agricultural and railway workers. Up to 5 million Mexican guest workers participated in the Program before it ended in 1964. Although these “Braceros” expected high wages and humane treatment, many instead, experienced poor working conditions and outright abuse.
The contracts they signed before leaving Mexico guaranteed free transportation to the U.S., housing, minimal salaries, medical services and consular protection of the Mexican Government. The American agricultural and railroad companies took advantage of the Program and legally contracted approximately 300,000 Mexican workers who produced and transported goods for the U.S. civilian population and armed forces.
The photographs in the exhibit depict “a peculiar mix of social, cultural, and visual history. The photos give a human face to sociological data and statistics, showing people who actually experienced the events which historians usually research and reconstruct through written documents.” (Uprooted: Braceros in the Hermanos Mayo Lens)
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is a collaboration between the Latin American Studies Program, Center for International Studies and the Ohio University Libraries. Additional information and resources can be found at the Bracero History Archive.