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Mexican Migrants: 1939

Mexican Migrants: 1939

October 1939. Neches, Texas. "Mexican migrants drinking cold drinks and buying candy at filling station where the truck taking them to their homes in the Rio Grande Valley has stopped. They had been picking cotton in Mississippi." Photograph by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Coke and peanuts

This was typical, as I recall as a child, when ever the truck load of workers stopped for gas, men, women and children stopped to freshen up and by cokes. The last time I picked cotton was in Ok. in 1957. A favorit treat was to stop get a coke and peanuts, place the penuts inside the coke bottle and drink it.

What really bothers me is that hisstory tells of cotton picking, but only the blacks. Nothing against them it's just that that is incomplete history.

When will history be corrected to include the Mexicans?

Mr. Flores


I am continually dismayed (a polite term) by the doubters and naysayers which persistently plague the good folks at Shorpy. Don't these chuckleheads realize that Dave, Ken & company know what they're about?

Be that as it may, when I saw this post, I thought "they must mean Port Neches," but a look here (3rd photo down) convinced me that I had it right the first time.

Don't these chuckleheads (me included) know ....

Mexican laborers

Cotton farmers in the Mississippi Delta increasingly turned to contract labor as the old system of sharecropping was being dismantled. Starting after WWl, African Americans emigrated to jobs in the northern and western cities in an effort to make a better life for themselves and their families. By the 1930s mechanization was becoming an important force on the farms, with early cotton picking machines being tested and deployed to the fields. The machines triumphed over hand labor in the 40s and early 50s.

This photo was taken at the end of the cotton picking season in October of 1939. There are a number of FSA photos taken by Marion Post Wolcott at Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi that have Mexican labor. Also FSA photos at Perthshire, Mississippi, show Mexicans in the general store and around the plantation.

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