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Special Collections & University Archives: Farm Workers' Movement in the RGV

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Farm Workers' Movement in the RGV

Farm Workers' Movement in the RGV


The Farm Workers' Movement in the RGV research guide provides links to resources from our library catalog and archival collections, relating to historic people and events in the labor movement of the Rio Grande Valley. This research guide aims to help students interested on researching farm work as it relates to labor and civil rights, including peonage, strikes, and unions. External resources and resources for educators are also included.

Hasta la Gloria screenprint by Luis Guerra memorializing the Texas Farmworkers March to Washi

Luis Guerra, Hasta la Gloria, 1977, screenprint on paper, overall: 17 1/2 × 22 1/2 in. 
(44.5 × 57.2 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the 
Frank K. Ribelin Endowment, 2019.43.1, ©1977, Luis Guerra.

Farm Workers' Movement: Materials from Our Collections

Ebony Grove Daily, McAllen, Tex.

Rio Grande Valley 20th Century Studio Photographs Collection

This collection consists of 53 photographs of agricultural activity in the Rio Grande Valley and the McAllen, Texas region, ca.1920. Four bear the "Ziebell, McAllen" studio name, six bear the "Eskildsen" name, and four have no studio identification marks.

Photo: Black and white photograph. Ebony Grove Dairy, McAllen, TX. Two men with milking equipment, cows lined on both sides of the indoor dairy farm.

Brent Campney's research collection on race relations in South Texas

Farm worker strikes, grower violence, and Mexican American women's activism, 1975 - 1979

Farm worker strikes, grower violence, and Mexican American women's activism, 1975 - 1979, Container: 179, Box: 1, Folder: 13. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus.

Anglo-Mexican violence, at La Casita and Starr County, 1906 - 1909

La Casita and Starr County were the sites of other major episodes of labor and racial unrest in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, as well as in the 1930s and again in dramatic fashion in 1966-1967. 

Willacy County peonage scheme and quintuple lynching, 1926 - 1927

This folder documents a peonage scheme in Willacy County in the fall of 1926, in which many unwitting victims (primarily Mexican Americans) were arrested on false charges and forced to work the cotton fields. It also documents the related lynching of four ethnic Mexicans and an Austrian by an Anglo mob led by the Willacy County Sheriff, near Raymondville, and the legal proceedings that developed from these incidents.

Edinburg Chicano Collection: El Cuhamil (San Juan, Tex.)

A newsletter published in Spanish and English by the Texas Farm Workers' Union "La Voz del campesino de Texas"

Holly Hewlett Research Collection on La Casita Farms Strike

The collection contains research material compiled by Holly Hewlett, pertaining to the 1966 La Casita Farms worker strike as well as the involvement of Archbishop Robert E. Lucey of San Antonio and the Catholic Church. The collection consists primarily of photocopies of newspaper articles, photocopies of records and correspondence, three oral history interviews on cassette tape, and Hewlett’s honors thesis presentation.

Eligio (Kika) de la Garza Congressional Papers

Because he hailed from a district with a large agricultural base, Congressman de la Garza became a member of the Committee on Agriculture. In 1967 he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations and Foreign Agriculture. From 1981 to 1994 de la Garza was the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, becoming the first Hispanic since 1917 to chair a standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

During his tenure as Chairman, Representative de la Garza successfully led the way for the House to pass three omnibus farm bills (1981, 1985, and 1990), a major overhaul of the agricultural lending system, Federal crop insurance reform, a major reorganization of the USDA, reforms in Federal pesticide laws, and numerous other measures to assist U.S. agriculture, encourage rural economic development, and improve human nutrition. In 1976 de la Garza became one of the founding members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he chaired from 1989 to 1991.

RGV Oral Histories

The Rio Grande Valley Oral History Collection consists of over 500 digitized oral histories recorded and collected by faculty, staff, students, and community members and donated to the University Library. Oral histories provide unique, and in many instances, otherwise unavailable written information, and as such provide valuable insight into life in the region, including immigration, military service, ranching, education, agriculture, border violence, sports, and much more. Interviews of note include:

Rubén Hinojosa Congressional Papers

Congressman Hinojosa has distinguished himself as an advocate for education, Social Security, health care, agriculture, veterans’ issues, economic development and infrastructure projects. The Congressional Papers of Rubén Hinojosa consists of 291 linear feet of materials dating from 1997 - 2016. The papers were created during Rubén Hinojosa's time as an elected official in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 - 2016, representing the 15th Congressional District in South Texas. The collection consists of legislative material as well as casework of local projects and issues. 

Bracero Program

After years of restrictive immigration policy and at the outset of WWII, the United States found itself with a labor deficit in critical industries like agriculture and transportation. The Mexican Farm Labor Program, better known as the Bracero Program, was a series of agreements between the U.S. and Mexico to allow laborers from Mexico (braceros) to work legally and temporarily in the U.S. It is important to note that this was also the revival of an earlier U.S.-Mexico program during WWI (1917-1921). Between 1942 and 1964 more than 4.5 million braceros came to work in states like Texas and California.

In exchange for their short-term work contracts, braceros were promised good treatment and fair wages, as well as free housing, health care, and the return to Mexico when their contracts were up. However, in practice, braceros were exploited, poorly treated, and underpaid.

Bracero Program Documents

United States-Mexico Border [JV]. Reference Files, ELIBR-0062. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Edinburg Campus.

Border Brick Project -- Scott Cook Collection, Vanishing Bracero: Valley revolution, John McBride - book, 1963

The series contains research material compiled by Scott Cook, pertaining to the study of organization of brick production along the U.S. Texas-Mexico border. The series consists primarily of books, partial books, journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, manuscripts, papers, and presentations.

Farm Workers' Movement: Notable Figures & Organizations

Daria Vera (1946 - 2020)

Dolores Huerta (1930 - )

Rebecca Flores Harrington (1942 - )

Juanita Valdez-Cox

Antonio Orendain (1930 - 2016)

Francisco "Pancho" Medrano (1920–2002)

Ramiro Raúl Casso (1922–2011)

Alfred Young Allee (1905–1987)

Archbishop Robert E. Lucey

Governor John Connally (1917–1993)

Othal Brand (1919 - 2009)

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) 

Founded by labor rights activist César Chávez & Dolores Huerta, LUPE builds stronger, healthier communities where colonia residents use the power of civic engagement for social change.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 

LULAC is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 1,000 LULAC councils nationwide. The organization involves and serves all Hispanic nationality groups.

United Farm Workers 

Begun in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Gilbert Padilla and other early organizers, the United Farm Workers of America is the nation’s first enduring and largest farm workers union.

Farm Workers' Movement: Video Resources


The research guides compiled by UTRGV staff and students are intended to assist patrons who are embarking upon new research endeavors. Our goal is to expand their knowledge of the types of resources available on a given topic, including books, archival materials, and websites. In so doing, our compilers have taken care to include collections, digital items, and resources that may be accessed not only through UTRGV but also via other institutions, repositories, and websites.

We wholeheartedly respect the research interests of others. Therefore, please contact us if you wish to submit a resource for consideration, or if you have a question about or an issue with a specific cited resource.

Farm Workers' Movement: Books from Our Catalog

Databases for Primary & Secondary Sources: Mexican American Civil Rights

Timeline of Farm Workers' Movement

Timeline Farm Worker's Movement in the RGV

Omeka Digital Exhibit: Mapping LRGV Civil Rights

UTRGV Digital Exhibit: Mapping LRGV Civil Rights

Mapping Civil Rights: Lower Rio Grande Valley website

Farm Workers' Movement: External Resources

Digital & Born Digital Collections

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