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Even though it is not Giving Tuesday, we are asking you to Help Bring these stories to life!

The Before Silicon Valley: Mexican Cannery and Agricultural Workers of Santa Clara Valley, 1920-1960 (

We need just $7,500 to complete the last components of our project

EDUCATORS PAGE, Teacher lesson plans and bibliographic sources;

MEDIA PAGE, posting Mini-Documentaries, Public Programs & Scholar Talks;

ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION, final edits and uploading 80 Oral History Interviews.

Hosted by AAACNA Studies Center at the SJSU Library, the finished website features an online exhibit with over 35 Scholar Talks, and four mini-documentaries on Mexican migration, work, housing, entertainment and civil rights activism in Santa Clara County from the 1920s to the 1960s.

This project appeals to all ages! It is a Chicano youth empowerment project encouraging young people to learn the history of their community’s struggles and pursue civic engagement. It highlights the unrecognized accomplishments of Latino elders, creating community pride.

Before “Silicon Valley,” Santa Clara County was the largest fruit-producing and processing region in the United States. Although Mexicans provided a majority of the labor force for this cannery and agricultural center, little of this history is in books, archives, or on the internet, and few materials have been digitized.

That is why ALL of the materials collected in our research are being donated to SJSU Library Special Collections and posted on the AAACNA Studies Center, so they are always accessible to the public at large.

We have shared this history in free events:

César Chávez Day March 31, 2023, in April and May 2023, six Community Public Programs to introduce the public to the website including Scholar Talks and mini-documentary showings. Over 600 people attended the Cannery Worker Commemoration at The Gardner Center and the Public Programs at The History Center at De Anza College, Gavilan College, The Mountain View Historical Society& The Los Altos History Museum, La Biblioteca Branch Library of SJP, and History Park, sponsored by La Raza Historical Society.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2023, hosted a 10-mile Bicycle History Tour of five Mexican Historic Sites in San José and an afternoon Tardeada/Family Dance at the Roosevelt Community Center.

There is more to come! Stay tuned for the next component of our Project Website: a Storymap of historical sites in Santa Clara County. Our funding campaign begins Fall 2024, and we hope to begin the Project by Winter 2025.

We appreciate the many people who have already contributed their stories, photos, volunteer time, and funds to support this project.

Major support has been provided by the County of Sacramento, with additional support from the California Council for the Humanities, Farrington Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We also thank our sponsor San José Parks Foundation and our collaborators San José State Library AACNA Center, Arhoolie Foundation, and La Raza Historical Society.

You can contribute, share and follow our project online, via Facebook, Instagram, and the new website. Read The Metro feature article coming Oct. 12, 2023.

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Margo McBane, PhD, Project Director Emerita 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

Fernando J. Pérez, Project Co-Director Freelance Photo/Video Consultant

Special Thanks:

We would like to thank our funders including Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors (via the Historic Grant Program), San José State University, NEH, Farrington Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, California Humanities, the City of San José’s Abierto Fund, and individual donors.