QUERY: Latinos and railroads

Cristian Dona-Reveco's picture

Dear colleagues. 

I am starting a community-engaged research project on Latino railroad workers on the Midwest. This is a project that we at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Office of Latino/Latin American Studies are doing with/for the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. Our objective is to collect between 20 and 25 oral histories with former railroad workers from the Midwest/Great Plains regardless of whether they worked for Union Pacific or not. We have found extraordinarily little bibliography on this topic. Can anyone point us to some resources? 

So far we have only found:

  • Garcilazo’s Traqueros: Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States, 1870 to 1930;
  • Gamboa’s Bracero Railroaders; and
  • Driscoll’s The Tracks North.

 Any other authors who have worked on this topic or near this topic? I posted a similar message on Twitter recently and will cross post in other H-Networks.  Thanks!

Ernesto Galarza writes about his uncles working for the railroad in Barrio Boy.

Since you include the Great Plains, it might do to check out connections via the sugar beet industry in Montana's Yellowstone Valley. Mexicano families came to Billings to work in sugar beets but often stayed on in railroad jobs that paid better. Comision Honorifica Mexicana (1920s) later (1960s) Concilio Mexicano both worked to get Mexicanos jobs outside of beets as well as to improve education opportunities around Billings. It is possible that oral histories exist in connection with Billings, the Comision, Concilio, or at one of the university archives, such as MSU.

Hi Cristian,

Here are a couple IL-based public history sources. I believe there are some extant oral histories of railroad workers in this region as well. My grandfather (now deceased) was also a Bracero railroad worker in Ohio and the region.

https://www.wtvp.org/local-programs/boxcar-people/

https://www.ilhumanities.org/events/the-history-of-mexican-railroad-boxc...

I teach community college near Chicago and we are running an oral history project as well (ChicagolandiaOralHistory.org). I'm glad to hear about another Midwest-focused project and am happy to talk sometime.

Antonio Ramirez, Elgin Community College