1. Mexican Laborers Pick Potatoes, 1943

This photograph shows Mexican citizens harvesting potatoes in central Oregon during World War II. In 1942, the United States government negotiated with Mexico to import workers in order to alleviate a serious national agricultural labor shortage. The Mexican Farm Labor Program was more commonly known as the Bracero program, translated as “helping hands.” More than 15,000 Mexicans came to Oregon under the program. The government estimated that during the war, Mexican workers thinned 25 percent of Oregon’s sugar beets, and harvested 40 percent. They also harvested asparagus, onions, cucumbers, and peas, and worked in apple and pear orchards.

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