Friday, February 10, 2017

30 Rare Vintage Photographs That Show What the Texas-Mexico border Looked Like in the Late 1930s

The border between the United States and Mexico has been in the headlines for a while now. Images of today's Texas-Mexico border are filled with reinforced walls, national guard troops and guard towers, images that look more military than an open zone for trade and immigration.

But it wasn't always like that.

Images of the area in 1937-39 from the Library of Congress archives show a border that is loosely guarded and relatively free, with only small swinging gates and few border officers present.

This was near the end of the Great Depression, when white migrant workers living in tents were striving to provide for their families along with Mexican workers and their families in ramshackle huts.

Mexicans entering the United States. United States immigration station, El Paso, Texas, June 1938.

State border plant inspection maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture between Mexico and the United States. Shoppers returning from Mexico (Juarez) to the United States (El Paso) over the bridge which carries all the traffic are required to open their packages for inspection, June 1937.

Plant quarantine inspectors examining packages brought over the bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. Families and housewives returning to their homes in El Paso after their Saturday marketing in Juarez, where they benefit by the present rate of exchange, May 1937.

Inspecting a freight train from Mexico for smuggled immigrants. El Paso, Texas, June 1938.

Mexicans entering the United States. United States immigration station, El Paso, Texas, June 1938.

Tourists traveling in trailers talking in camp, McAllen, Texas, February 1939.

Two-wheeled trailer with kitchen cabinet fitted on the end. This is copied from the old chuck wagons. Harlingen, Texas migrant camp.

Twelve-year-old girl who keeps house in a trailer for her three brothers who are migrant workers, near Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

Tent home of white migrant from Arizona, near Harlingen, Texas

Tent home of white migrants near Harlingen, Texas.

Son of white migrant worker near Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

A child of white migrant in her playhouse. The rusted scales represented a clock to the little girl. Near Harlingen, Texas.

White migrant worker sawing wood for stakes to be used in setting up tent home, near Harlingen, Texas.

Truck home of traveler with plates from cities he has visited. Harlingen, Texas.

Mexican labor contractor in center with two carrot workers eating "second breakfast" near Santa Maria, Texas.

Mexican carrot worker, Edinburg, Texas, February 1939.

Mexican girl, carrot workers, Edinburg, Texas, February 1939.

White migrant from Arizona near Harlingen, Texas.

Child of white migrant climbing fence with pail of water near Harlingen, Texas.

Mexican girl with baby sister in front of hut near Santa Maria, Texas, February 1939.

Group of Mexican laborers getting straw for tying carrots near Santa Maria, Texas, February 1939.

Mexican carrot workers around labor contractor's truck in field near Santa Maria, Texas, February 1939.

Migrant father and daughter near Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

Detail of kitchen cabinet on trailer of white migrant near Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

Ice for sale. Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

Mexican day laborer's hut near Santa Maria, Texas, February 1939.

White migrant and wife repairing clutch in their car near Harlingen, Texas, February 1939.

Mexican citrus workers near Weslaco, Texas, February 1939.

Loading platform of vegetable packinghouse at Elsa, Texas, February 1939.

Packing cabbages into crates, Alamo, Texas, February 1939.

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