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The “Bittersweet” struggle of the Bracero revealed in traveling exhibition
The “Bittersweet” struggle of the Bracero is revealed in a new Smithsonian traveling exhibition on display at the Springs Preserve
Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated a series of agreements with Mexico to recruit Mexican men to work on American farms and railroads. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, more familiarly known as the Bracero Program, enabled approximately 2 million Mexicans to enter the United States and work on short-term labor contracts.
The exhibition explores the Braceros’ contributions to communities in Mexico and the United States, the opportunities that became available to Braceros and the challenges that they faced as guest workers during the war years and afterward. Included in the exhibition are 15 freestanding banners featuring oral histories, quotes and photographs by Leonard Nadel, a photographer who, in 1956, exposed employer violations endured by many braceros. The Nadel photos inspired the museum’s work on “Bittersweet Harvest" and the "Bracero History Project", which also includes audio clips of former Braceros relating their experiences. The firsthand accounts were collected as part of the project’s oral-history initiative.
Accompanying the exhibition is a website with transcripts, audio files of all of the oral histories, photos, essays, bibliographies and teaching resources. Developed by the Center for New Media at George Mason University, the website features a section where braceros and their families can contribute their own stories. The website is located at braceroarchieve.org.
“Bittersweet Harvest” is organized by the National Museum of American History and organized for travel by SITES. Funding is made possible through the Smithsonian’
ABOUT SPRINGS PRESERVE: Located three miles from the famed Las Vegas Strip, the Springs Preserve is the best place to explore the Las Vegas Valley's vibrant history through interactive science and nature exhibits, botanical gardens, hiking trails and animal shows. Indoor experiences include exhibition galleries dedicated to showcasing art and traveling exhibitions of local and national significance, on-site technologically advanced learning centers and interactive museum exhibits, and the Springs Cafe operated by the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas. The Preserve also hosts seasonal special events including concerts, arts shows and holiday experiences. Visit springspreserve.org or call 702-822-7700.
ABOUT SITES: SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.