From butter churns to diesel tractors, the Museum's agricultural artifacts trace the story of Americans who work the land. Agricultural tools and machinery in the collections range from a John Deere plow of the 1830s to 20th-century cultivators and harvesters. The Museum's holdings also include overalls, aprons, and sunbonnets; farm photographs; milk cans and food jars; handmade horse collars; and some 200 oral histories of farm men and women in the South. Prints in the collections show hundreds of scenes of rural life. The politics of agriculture are part of the story, too, told in materials related to farm workers' unions and a group of artifacts donated by the family of the labor leader Cesar Chavez.
"Agriculture - Overview" showing 1 items.
- A short Handled hoe, 1936 hoe. Original owner Librado Hernandez Chavez, (father of Ceser Estrada Chavez). The hoe has a metal blade welded to a metal neck and a wooden handle. The two are attached by a slot screw. The top edge of the blade is similar to the two curves at the top of a valentine hear. Blade recently sharpened.
- The short-handled hoe brings back memories of back-breaking labor for generations of Mexican and Mexican American migrant workers who sustained California's booming agricultural economy. Since the late 1800s, its expansive fields of produce have relied on a cheap, mobile, and temporary workforce. The short-handled hoe required workers to bend painfully close to the ground to weed and thin crops. The state abolished the short-handled hoe in 1975, ruling it an occupational hazard after a seven-year legal battle. During this period of political mobilization, the predicament of the migrant farm worker became emblematic of the limited opportunities and the cycle of poverty that trapped many Mexican Americans. In 1966, when Mexican and Filipino American farm workers were brought together under the banner of the United Farm Workers of America, the struggle for labor rights was understood by its supporters as part of the much larger civil rights movement. It was not just important for Mexican Americans but also other low-paid workers. The hoe pictured here belonged to Librado Hernandez Chavez, father of civil rights leader and farm worker organizer, Cesar Estrada Chavez.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Chavez, Librado Hernandes
- Chavez, Cesar Estrada
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- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center