The Museum of Work & Culture, a division of the Rhode Island Historical Society and Smithsonian Affiliate, is excited to present “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964,” a bilingual poster exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution with images and interviews by documentary photographer Leonard Nadel. The exhibit will open on Friday, June 10, and will remain in the changing gallery through September 24.
Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated a series of agreements with Mexico to recruit guest workers for American farms and railroads. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, more familiarly known as the Bracero Program, enabled approximately 2 million Mexicans to enter the United States. While the work was often grueling, the program offered participants economic opportunity. The contributions made by these laborers have had a significant impact on the political, economic, and social climate of both the United States and Mexico. Also on display at the Museum will be panels that present stories of how the Bracero Program made its way to Rhode Island.
Complimenting the Smithsonian poster exhibit, the Museum, in partnership with Rhode Island Latino Arts, will present “This Kind of Love, Our Love: Latino Stories in the Blackstone Valley, 1960s-Today.” “This Kind of Love” continues the themes of “Bittersweet Harvest” locally, presenting the history of Latino settlement and community-building over the past half-century in Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley region, from Central Falls to Woonsocket. Historical artifacts, an art installation, and collected oral histories will complement the informational posters, making these stories come alive.
“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964” was organized by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the SITES, and received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Funding provided in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, through the Rhode Island Culture, Humanities, and Arts Recovery Grant (RI CHARG) program. This program was made possible thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities, via funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.