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Support Our Fund to Tell the Story of Mexican American Workers, 1920 to 1960

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Before Silicon Valley Project: Mexican American Workers in Santa Clara Valley 1920 to 1960

From 1920 to 1960 the Santa Clara Valley transformed from the nation’s largest fruit-producing region into the center of the new high-tech world. Mexican American labor organizing and struggles for civil rights were profoundly affected by the pressure for change in the region.

Funded by the County of Santa Clara through a local history grant, Before Silicon Valley is a project of the San Jose Parks Foundation and the San Jose State University Library. It will create a bilingual website, a research portal focused on the largely undocumented agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley and the rise of Mexican and Mexican American labor and civil rights activism from the 1900s though 1960.

Our goal is to deepen public understanding of American labor struggles, ethnic resilience, and creative adaptation and cultural production in the fight for equality in the United States and to broaden the scope of the 20th century civil rights story. Read more about our work.


We are seeking funds from the community to complete this project. Your donation is an expression of belief in the importance of this history and every dollar really does help us complete the work.


The Project website will feature resources in SJSU Special Collections that have been collected over the last 25 years, some unavailable digitally, including films, texts, maps, images, recordings and dissertations along with an extensive new collection of local oral history interviews donated by public history consultants Guerra and McBane. We are now collecting:

  • Personal Records: Material that documents an individual’s life and achievements (e.g. diaries, correspondence, oral histories);
  • Family Records: Material that documents a family’s history and roots in California and the Santa Clara Valley (e.g. genealogy records, family artifacts, photographs);
  • Political, Civil Rights, Cultural Arts, Religious, Fraternal and Community Organization Records: Material that documents an organization's history and its work with a community (e.g. meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, announcements, memorabilia, photographs);

The website is scheduled to go live in 2023, and we will be posting updates on our progress here. You can also join our email list at


  • Margo McBane, PhD, Project Co-Director
  • Emeritus Lecturer in History / San José State University
  • Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, Project Co-Director
  • Director, AAACNA Studies Center - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San José State University