Short-Handled Hoe, 1950s and 1960s


Migrant farm workers had to use the short-handled hoe or el cortito for thinning and weeding. Because it required them to stoop during long hours in the fields, the hoe became a symbol of the exploitive working conditions. Campaigns by the United Farm Workers and others helped outlaw use of the hoe in 1975.

American agriculture’s dependence on Mexican labor has always been a source of great conflict and great opportunity for field workers and the agriculture industry. In the U.S., agricultural labor was overwhelmingly Mexican and Mexican American. Issues of legal status, workers rights, and use of domestic workers are issues the unions, agricultural producers, and the federal government have been struggling with since the 1920’s.

See more items in: Work and Industry: Agriculture, Food, Cultures & Communities, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Exhibition: Food: Transforming the American Table

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of Luis Diaz Zavala

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2009.0134.01Catalog Number: 2009.0134.01Accession Number: 2009.0134

Object Name: short handled hoe

Physical Description: iron (overall: blade material)wood (overall: handle material)iron (overall: handle material)Measurements: overall: 12.3 cm x 15.3 cm x 42 cm; 4 13/16 in x 6 in x 16 9/16 inblade: 9.2 cm x 15.3 cm; 3 5/8 in x 6 inhandle: iron portion: 20.3 cm; 8 inhandle: wooden portion: 21.7 cm; 8 9/16 in


Record Id: nmah_1352222

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