In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas-El Paso, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Dr. Matt García (American Studies/Ethnic Studies) directed the Bracero History and Archives Project.
From 1942 to 1964, the Bracero program was the United States’ preeminent “guest worker program.” This program involved the recruitment of millions of Mexican nationals by the United States. These Mexican nationals were then brought into the United States as guest workers or braceros. They worked as agricultural laborers throughout the United States. They also worked in the railroad industry. Many of these guest workers chose to remain in the United States after the Bracero Program ended.
In Spring 2005, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Brown University held the initial organizing meeting for the Bracero History and Archives Project. This also included a one-day conference. In addition to support from the CSREA, this conference also received support the John Nicholas Brown program in Public History. Historians from universities such as Yale, University of Southern California and University of New Mexico took part. A second conference was held a year later at the University of Texas-El Paso, where researchers are transcribing interviews with former braceros.
In Spring 2007, the Bracero History and Archives Project received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant. With this grant, the project was able to collect primary material, digitize documents and photographs, and establish an Online Archive that researchers anywhere can access. In addition, the project created paid research fellowships at the Smithsonian for three bi-lingual Chicano graduate students in American Studies and Public Humanities. All of these students worked with Dr. García.