Mexican Coal Mining Labor in Texas and Coahuila, 1880-1930
Latin American Studies - Labor History
6 x 9, 316 pp.
17 b&w photos., 3 maps., 19 tables., 4 graphs.
Pub Date: 01/01/2000
Rio Grande/Río Bravo: Borderlands Culture and Traditions
Price:        $39.95 s

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2000 Luciano Guajardo Historical Awareness Award, presented by the Webb County Heritage Foundation

Mexican Coal Mining Labor in Texas and Coahuila, 1880-1930

By Roberto R. Calderón

The years 1880 to 1930 mark the period in time in Texas' coal mining history known as the handloading era, during which the system of mining for coal by hand was both established and eliminated, giving way to a new era of advancing technologies and methods used in mines on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. The contributions of the large immigrant population who worked the mines, however, have long been overlooked by historians.

Departing from the standard studies of Texas or Mexican mining which remain lodged within the nation-state, in Mexican Coal Mining Labor in Texas and Coahuila, 1880-1930, Roberto Calderón presents a transnational comparative framework for understanding the complex matrix of mining, investment capital, labor markets, railroad construction, and racial ideology in Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, during a period of economic growth and social disruption on both sides of the border. Placing industry within the political economy of both Mexico and the western United States, he presents an intriguing discussion of the establishment of the mines, the industrial and urban markets, and the life and work of workers and their response to changing conditions. With detailed research, he paints a vivid portrait of the industry at the time unlike any existing history. In so doing, Calderón revises the view that Mexican workers were careless and difficult to work with and documents their struggle for recognition and union organization.

Using a rich array of archival, statistical, government, and periodical material, as well as personal accounts from those who lived the experience, Calderón brings a new approach to a subject usually only studied in terms of its geology. He also provides a specific demographic analysis of two important Texas border countries in coal production, Webb and Maverick, examining the influence of the immigrant labor population through such social variables as education, naturalization, literacy, and housing patterns. A final chapter details the workers' response to unions and the major labor actions that brought about changes in the general working conditions of the mines.

Mexican Coal Mining Labor is an original contribution to the fields of Chicano and Borderlands history, Texas history, and labor history.

Roberto R. Calderón is an assistant professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California-Riverside.

What Readers Are Saying:

“I applaud Calderon’s decision to include both sides of the border and the variety of facets he investigates,” “. . . the book is full of useful information for specialists in the fields of labor or borderlands studies.” --Journal of Southern History

“Mexican Coal-Mining Labor is certain to become a basic source in the history of labor along the U.S.-Mexican border.” --Latin American Research Review, volume 37 number 1

“Professor Roberto Calderón, from the University of Texas-San Antonio, has produced a book looking at two often ignored topics, coal mining in Texas and the Mexican state of Coahuila. This volume covers a multitude of subjects including mining methods, labor and unions, railroad and mining, economic forces and finances, and ethnic issues. It is a ‘must’ read for scholars in these areas. Mexican Coal Mining is a well-researched study using a variety of sources from interviews to mining records. The comparison and contrast between mining in the two regions are especially carefully considered and make a major contribution.” --Journal of the West

“With his latest book project, he revisits the historical record, advances his work significantly, and once again reminds us that history writing, especially in the expanding field of Mexican American history, pays good dividends to the enterprising and hard working researcher.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly


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