This Friday, February 25, 2011, the Wittliff Collections at the Alkek Library host the opening reception and a special program celebrating the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942–1964.
Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the largest Mexican guest worker program in U.S. history. Bittersweet Harvest, a collection of bilingual (English/Spanish) banners, explores this chapter of American history: the braceros’ contributions to communities in Mexico and the United States, the opportunities available to them, and the challenges they faced as guest workers during the war years and afterward.
The exhibition’s 15 freestanding banners tell the workers’ stories through oral histories, quotes, and photographs by Leonard Nadel, a photojournalist who, in 1956, exposed employer violations endured by many braceros. The Nadel images inspired the Smithsonian’s work on Bittersweet Harvest and the Bracero History Project (http://braceroarchive.org), which also includes audio clips of former braceros relating their experiences.
Created by the National Museum of American History, organized for a two-year, multicity tour by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and made possible with Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, the exhibition is co-sponsored at Texas State by the Wittliff Collections and the Public History Program.
Bittersweet Harvest will be on view at the Wittliff February 25 through April 29, 2011.
This Friday’s exhibition reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with light refreshments. The 7:00 p.m. program features guest speaker Kristine Navarro-McElhaney, director of the Institute of Oral History at UTEP. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Attendees are asked to RSVP to email@example.com.
Ms. Navarro-McElhaney’s talk, co-sponsored by the Public History Program, is part of a two-day symposium called “Immigrant America” organized and co-sponsored by Texas State’s Department of History and the Center for the Study of the Southwest. The symposium will focus on the history and future of immigration in Texas and the Southwest. Call 512.245.2142 for more about the symposium. For further information about the Bittersweet Harvest exhibition, contact Wittliff photography curator Carla Ellard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.245.2313.