Chiques History Note #9 – Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Chiques History Notes is a series of post based on my research on Oxnard, CA.

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Girl peanut race at Guadalupe School. Works Progress Administration, 1936. Source: Oxnard Public Library.

I came across the following photographs of Mexican children celebrating Halloween at Guadalupe School years ago. What caught my attention was the Works Progress Administration (WPA) stamp on them. During the 1930’s, the WPA had funded many different types of projects in Oxnard, which included the Guadalupe School playground at Meta Street and Seventh Street. The playground was under the supervision of Robert Hinostro, who became the first Mexican American police officer in the Oxnard Police Department.

For more information on Robert Hinostro, check out Curious Unions: Mexican American Workers and Resistance in Oxnard, California, 1898-1961 by Frank P. Barajas.

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Source: Oxnard Daily Courier, 3 Nov 1936.

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Boy peanut race at Guadalupe School. Works Progress Administration, 1936. Source: Oxnard Public Library.

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Children receiving awards & candy at Guadalupe School. Works Progress Administration, 1936. Source: Oxnard Public Library.

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Early Halloween program at Guadalupe School. Works Progress Administration, 1936. Source: Oxnard Public Library.

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The Farmers’ Narrative = The Agricultural Industrial Complex!

Oxnard’s Heritage Square (2015). Courtesy of the author’s photo collection.

I’m spending the whole summer in Chiques (Oxnard) with my family. Every morning or evening, I walk around downtown, and I reflect on the importance of the geography (space) of La Colonia.

This community was constructed by city policies of segregating the Mexican population from other ethnic groups, but especially from the White population. Even as this community was formed as a barrier, which limited their access to a decent education, housing, and a job, this community embraced the location as their own.

In other words, La Colonia became a location of struggles. One of my goals this summer is to conduct more research and writing on my manuscript, Searching for Memories in La Colonia: Migration, Labor, and Activism In Oxnard, California, 1930-1980.

As I work on this manuscript, my focus is to examine the struggles of migration, labor, and activism but to challenge the traditional history of the city, especially the farmers’ narrative. Or as noted by historian Frank Barajas, those narratives are connected to the agricultural industrial complex in Ventura County, which continues to be re-constructed over and over by local museums and amateur historians!

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