Gilbert G. Gonzalez interviews (MS-R144) is a collection containing sixty-three audio tapes of interviews by Gilbert G. Gonzales with individuals associated with the citrus industry in Orange County in the first half of the twentieth century. These interviews, now available to researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room only, were conducted for Gonzalez’s monograph, Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900-1950 (Urbana: Illinois UP, 1994). The collection includes an interview with Felicitas Mendez, one of the parents involved in the United States federal court case Mendez v. Westminster School District, which challenged racial segregation in Orange County, California schools.
Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus of the UCI Department of Chicano Studies, has written extensively about Mexican labor in the United States and about the bracero program. Professor Gonzalez’s book Labor and Community shows how Mexican immigrants developed an independent existence within a strong hierarchy of economic and political relationships. Gonzalez used these interviews with longtime residents to explain the children’s education system; the Americanization of the adults; labor relations; and the transition of the citrus picker village to the urban barrio. It was a very important book about the pre-WWII community of the Mexican citrus worker in Orange County.