Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Posadas, Barbara Mercedes, 1945-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Texas; South--Social conditions--History--20th century; Migrant agricultural laborers--Texas; South--History--20th century; Migrant labor--Texas; South--History--20th century; Foreign workers; Mexican--Social conditions--History--20th century


This dissertation examines south Texas from 1915 to 1925 and covers four subjects: a government-sponsored worker program, ethnic employment agencies, the inclusion of Mexicans into the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and a mutual aid organization in San Antonio, Sociedad de la Union. The federal government's guest-worker program suspended portions of the Immigration Act of 1917 so that poor and illiterate Mexican immigrants could continue to enter the United States as inexpensive agricultural laborers during World War I. Ethnic employment agencies provided Mexican migrants with jobs in the United States, but often had to evade both federal and Texas regulations. Although considered necessary workers by some farmers, the government program and the agencies produced an increased presence of Mexicans in the United States which added to their denigration. An AFL organizer of Mexican heritage and la Union both worked to reduce this disparagement and although not always successful, demonstrated the agency that Mexican laborers possessed despite their reception in the United States. The guest-worker program and the employment agencies, in conjunction with nativism that surfaced in the United States during the early 1920s, established a view of Mexicans as "disposable labor." This term describes people accepted for their inexpensive and dependable work, but vilified for their continued presence.


Advisors: Rosemary Feurer; Barbara M. Posadas.||Committee members: Kenton Clymer.||Includes bibliographical references.


vii, 443 pages




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