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Museum of Work & Culture Opens New Exhibitions Featuring RI’s Latino Stories


(WOONSOCKET, R.I.) – The Museum of Work & Culture, a division of the Rhode Island Historical Society and Smithsonian Affiliate, is excited to present “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964,” a bilingual poster exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution with images and interviews by documentary photographer Leonard Nadel. The exhibit will open on Friday, June 10, and will remain in the changing gallery through September 24.


Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated aseries of agreements with Mexico to recruit guest workers for American farms and railroads. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, more familiarly known as the Bracero Program, enabled approximately 2 million Mexicans to enter the United States. While the work was often grueling, the program offered participants economic opportunity. The contributions made by these laborers have had a significant impact on the political, economic and social climate of both the United States and Mexico. Also on display at the Museum will be panels that present stories of how the Bracero Program made its way to Rhode Island. 


Complimenting the Smithsonian poster exhibit, the Museum, in partnership with Rhode Island Latino Arts, will present “This Kind of Love, Our Love: Latino Stories in the Blackstone Valley, 1960s-Today.” “This Kind of Lovecontinues the themes of “Bittersweet Harvest” locally, presenting the history of Latino settlement and community-building over the past half-century in Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley region, from Central Falls to Woonsocket. Historical artifacts, an art installation, and collected oral histories will complement the informational posters, making these stories come alive.


“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964” was organized by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the SITES, and received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.


Funding provided in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, through the Rhode Island Culture, Humanities, and Arts Recovery Grant (RI CHARG) program. This program was made possible thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities, via funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.




About the Rhode Island Historical Society

The Rhode Island Historical Society, the state's oldest and only state-wide historical organization, is dedicated to honoring, interpreting, and sharing Rhode Island's past to enrich the present and inspire the future. Founded in 1822, the RIHS is an advocate for history as a means to develop empathy and 21st-century skills, using its historical materials and knowledge to explore topics of timeless relevance and public interest. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, it is dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible public programming and educational opportunities for all Rhode Islanders through its four sites: the John Brown House Museum, the Museum of Work & Culture, the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, and the Aldrich House.

Rhode Island Latino Arts is Rhode Island’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development and cultivation of Latino arts. We celebrate and promote Latino art & artists through our Rhode Island Latino Artists Network events, and each year we coordinate the sharing of information and activities to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. Through strategic partnering with local community organizations, we ensure our mission’s fulfillment: To raise awareness and preserve Latino arts, heritage and cultures in Rhode Island and to build community pride. Nuestras Raíces: The Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island, where the information for our exhibition is held, is a program of RILA.

SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations are critical national outreach units at the Smithsonian Institution. For more than 70 years, SITES has been connecting Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history. Smithsonian Affiliations establishes and maintains the Smithsonian’s long-term partnerships with museums, educational organizations, and cultural institutions in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Panama. Together, SITES and Affiliations share the Smithsonian's vast resources with millions of people outside Washington, D.C. Visit and for more information.