Between the end of World War I and the Great Depression, over 58,000 Mexicans journeyed to the Midwest in search of employment. Many found work in agriculture, but thousands more joined the growing ranks of the industrial proletariat. Throughout the northern Midwest, and especially in Detroit, Mexican workers entered steel mills, packing houses, and auto plants, becoming part of the modern American working class.
Zaragosa Vargas's work focuses on this little-known feature in the history of Chicanos and American labor. In relating the experiences of Mexicans in workplace and neighborhood, and in showing the roles of Mexican women, the Catholic Church, and labor unions, Vargas enriches our knowledge of immigrant urban life. His is an important work that will be welcomed by historians of Chicano Studies and American labor.
Zaragosa Vargas is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is the editor of Major Problems in Mexican American History (1999).
"A well-documented and persuasive description of the experiences and aspirations of the thousands of Mexicans who migrated to the Midwest in search of employment between the First World War and the Great Depression of the 1930s."—David Montgomery, Yale University
"An important contribution to a small but rapidly expanding historical literature that documents the variety and complexity of the Mexican experience in the United States. . . . Vargas not only illuminates an aspect of that experience that has been little appreciated and understood by students of Chicano history, but also offers compelling evidence that bringing Mexican workers into full view requires scholars to look through the prism of class as well as the prism of ethnicity. . . . A fine book that is certain to inform and challenge ethnic and labor historians alike."--Clete Daniel, Industrial and Labor Relations