Mexican Immigration in the 20th century: Revolution, Welfare, and Braceros

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The Bracero Program began in 1942, and was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, which started the legalization and control of Mexican migrant workers along America’s southern border area. The US was recovering from the social and economic damages caused by the Great Depression, while also sending many of its potential laborers off to war in Europe. So there was a serious need for workers in the country. The program lasted until 1964, and it is estimated that in this 22 year period, approximately 4.6 million Mexican nationals came to work in the U.S. as braceros. In the first year of its creation, the Bracero program led to the US importing roughly 215,000 Mexican nationals to work as agricultural laborers and then another 75,000 would be sent to work of the Southern Pacific railroad along with 20 or so other railroads.

In this continuation of our series on immigration, Dan and Elizabeth focus on the Mexican-American experience within the United States: instances of racism, the importation of Mexican workers, and how Mexican-Americans were intentionally excluded from the welfare state.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Zamora, Emilio. The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2009.

Katznelson, Ira. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. Reprint edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.

Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. 2nd edition. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Fox, Cybelle. Three Worlds of Relief: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Ngai, Mai. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Updated edition. Princeton University Press, 2014.

Feature Image: “Mexican Farm Workers Who have been Accepted for Farm Labor in the U.S. through the Braceros Program

Science, Reform, and Anti-Vivisection

Things have been pretty political around here lately, so we wanted to dig into something that’s just fascinating and, frankly, creepy: anti-vivisection, or the 19th century campaign to end scientific and medical experimentation on living animals. Join Averill and Sarah as they talk about the practice of vivisection and the efforts to stop it. Also, a word of warning: we use some nineteenth century language when reading quotes, and also describe some pretty graphic events. You might want to turn it down if you’re sensitive or listening with kids.

Sources & Further Reading 

A History of Anti-vivsection from 1800s to the Present: Part I (1800-1914).

Dissecting the Living: Vivisection in Early Modern England,” Chirurgeon’s Apprentice

Davis, Janet M. “The History of Animal Protection in the United States.” The American Historian. 

Johnson, Eric. “Charles Darwin and Vivisection Outrage,” Scientific American, October 6, 2011.

Frances Power Cobbe.

Markel, Howard. “Case Shined First Light on Abuse of Children,” New York Times, December 14, 2009.

McCurry, Justin. “Japan Revisits its darkest moments where American POWs became human experiments,” The Guardian, August 13, 2015.

McNeill, Leila. “Women, Animals, and the Poetry of Activism,” Nursing Clio. 

Prosecution at Norwich: Experiment on Animals,” The British Medical Journal, December 12, 1874.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

Renaissance Anatomy.

We Belong Here: Manifest Destiny, Immigration, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

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When we think of immigration we tend to think of people crossing over nation-state borders, from one country to another. These borders seem somehow solid in our collective mind, yet they normally only exist within treaties, maps, and in perceived ideas of community. But in many ways, borders are arbitrary distinctions, attempting to separate one from another but instead creating unique spaces, or borderlands that house a give and take, push and pull, amalgam of culture and people.

In this episode, we are going to be talking about how the United States’ southern border formed and how ideas of race and manifest destiny came to define what it meant to be an American or an immigrant.

Show Notes & Further Reading

Americo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958).

Rodolfo Acuña, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972).

Laura E. Gomez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (New York: New York University Press, 2007).

Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny : The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981).

Raymund A. Paredes, “The Origins of Anti-Mexican Sentiment in the United States,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900, ed. Michael L. Krenn (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998).

Arnoldo De Leon, “Initial Contacts: Redeeming Texas from Mexicans, 1821-1836,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900 (New York: Garland Pub., 1998).

Katherine Benton-Cohen, Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands, (Harvard University Press, 2011).

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Jane Roe & The Pill

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In the third episode in our series on women’s reproductive rights in America, we finally get to two of the most important turning points in our story: the invention of the hormonal birth control pill, and the Roe v. Wade case in 1973. The mid 20th century saw some critical turning points for women’s reproductive rights, but also created lasting political divides and moral dilemmas. Join Elizabeth and Sarah as they continue the conversation.

Show Notes & Further Reading 

Baker, Jean H. Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion. (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011).

Faux, Marian. Roe v Wade: The Untold Story of the Landmart Supreme Court Decision That Made Abortion Legal (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1988).

Gibbs, Nancy. “The Pill at 50: Sex, Freedom and Paradox,” Time, April 22, 2010.

Gibson, Megan. “One Factor That Kept the Women of the 1960s Away from Birth Control Pills: Cost,” Time, June 23, 2015.

Hubbard, Ruth. “Abortion and Disability: Who Should and Who Should Not Inhabit the World?” in The Disability Studies Reader, Davis, Lennard J., ed., (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2003).

Kaplan, Laura. The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

McFadden, Robert D. “Norma McCorvey, ‘Roe’ in Roe v. Wade, Is Dead at 69,” The New York Times, February 18, 2017.

Petchesky, Rosalind Pollack, “Fetal Images: The Power of Visual Culture in the Politics of Reproduction,” Feminist Studies 13 (1987).

Reagan, Leslie. Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America (Berkley: University of California Press, 2010).


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Featured image derived from Griswold v Connecticut on PBS

Forced Migration

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Immigration and migration have been pretty hot topics lately. This week a particularly interesting question has been bouncing around just about everywhere: were the people transported during the Atlantic Slave Trade immigrants? This got us thinking about forced migrations. In this episode, join Averill and Sarah as they talk about two particularly powerful examples of forced migration: the Atlantic Slave Trade, and Indian Removal. Also, a little chat at the end about the work we do, both as podcasters and as professional historians.

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Show Notes & Further Reading 

Ehle, John. The Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation (New York: Anchor Books, 1988).

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African (London, 1789).

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, And A Great American Land Grab (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

Wheat, David.  The Iberian Roots of the Atlantic Slave Trade, from Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History 

Maiz, Jaime. The U. S. Government Imposes a “Civilization Plan,” National Parks Service

The Sequoyah Museum 

The Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, Learn NC

For more on the experience of the Atlantic Slave Trade, see this online roundtable of reactions to Sowande Muskateem’s Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage from Black Perspectives and the African American Intellectual History Society.

To see a digital representation of how land was seized from Native American peoples, see this interactive map.

And this map shows a time-lapse of the spread of cotton and the spread of slavery across the deep South. You’ll notice how it corresponds to the land seized from the Cherokee and other tribes.

For more on Cherokee culture, including lots of primary documents and information about the Cherokee people today, see the Cherokee Museum.

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How America Got Its Bases

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It should come as no surprise that the American military has bases all over the world in strategically important places.  But how did we obtain them, especially those ones that exist in the middle of other sovereign nations?  Join Averill, Katie, and Dan as they discuss American base acquisition in this week’s episode of the History Buffs Podcast.

Show Notes and Further Reading

Diego Garcia:

Diego Garcia Islanders Displaced in U.K. Failure Hope to Return Home,” NPR, April 16, 2015

Scott Foster and Robert Windrem, “Tsunami Spares U.S. Base in Diego Garcia,” NBC News, January 4, 2005

Joshua L. Harris, “U.S. Military Presence in Diego Garcia: National Interests vs. Human Rights,” ICE Case Studies No. 120, December 2003

David Vine, “The Truth About Diego Garcia,” The Huffington Post, June 15, 2015

David Vine, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, Princeton University Press, 2011

Guantanamo Bay:

Copy of checks sent to Cuba

The United States, Cuba, and the Platt Amendment, 1901,” Office of the Historian

Agreement Between the United States and Cuba for the Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval stations, February 23, 1903Yale Law School Avalon Project 

The Case for CLosing – and Keeping Open – Guantanamo,” NPR (6 Mar 2016)

Jess Bravin, The Terror Courts (Yale University Press, 2013) 

Philip Ewing, “Fact Check: Is Obama Handing Guantanamo Bay Back to Cuba?NPR (Feb 25, 2016) 

Alyssa Fetini, “A Brief History of Gitmo,” Time (12 Nov 2008) 

Jeannette L. Nolen, “Guantanamo Bay detention camp,” Encyclopedia Britannica (Updated 22 May 2013)

Michael J. Strauss, The Leasing of Guantanamo Bay (ABC-CLIO, May 14, 2009)


Featured image: Panorama showing 1st, 2nd & 3rd Regiments, U.S. Marines, Deer Point Camp, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 26, 1911 (Library of Congress)

Fascism and Uteruses


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There are some fascinating parallels between the deployment of eugenic policies around reproduction and women’s bodies in twentieth-century Germany and Japan. In this episode, the fourth in the HBP’s work on reproductive rights and fights in history (from the US to the world). Marissa and Averill tackle eugenics, Nazis, legalized abortion and illegal hormonal birth control, marriage counseling, and more. It’s a story of governments trying to dictate how women can or cannot use their uteruses. Enjoy?


Show Notes & Further Reading

Anita Grossman, Reforming Sex (Oxford University Press, 1995)

Volker Roelcke, Sascha Topp, and Etienne Lepicard, eds., Silence, Scapegoats, Self-Reflection: The Shadow of Nazi Medical Crimes on Medicine and Bioethics (Göttingen: V&r Unipress, 2015).

Dagmar Herzog, Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in 20th Century Germany (Princeton University Press: Princeton; 2007).

Mark Roseman, Devin Pendas, and Richard F. Wetzell, Beyond the Racial State (Indiana University Press: Bloomington, IN; 2008).

Christiana A. E. Norgren, Abortion Before Birth Control: The Politics of Reproduction in Postwar Japan (Newark: Princeton University Press, 2001).

Samuel Coleman, Family Planning in Japanese Society: Traditional Birth Control in a Modern Urban Culture (Princeton University Press, 1992)

Takeda Hiroko, The Political Economy of Reproduction in Japan (Routledge, Sep 23, 2004)

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