Library Home page | Library Catalog
Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

DIVERSE DOCUMENTS: OUR VARIED HERITAGE by S. Gardner

A guide to selected historical documents, events, places, and other material focusing on Black History, Native Americans, and other racial minority populations in the Town of Warwick.

Latino Heritage

Throughout the past century or more Latino citizens and migrant workers have added their voices and vibrant culture to our community.  Many of the Hispanics here came as seasonal workers or moved to the area from other areas to seek economic opportunity for themselves and their families.

Migrant Workers: Diverse Ethnicities

Since early days, the traditional large farm family working the Black Dirt and other agricultural areas in town needed help at critical periods of planting and harvest.  During World War II, the need for migrant workers drastically increased due to the absence of many of the Town's young men and the emphasis on ramped-up wartime food production.

Migrant workers during the early 1940s were primarily Black Americans from the South, with Puerto Rican farm laborers coming in as well.  An office to help connect local farmers with migrant workers was established at Florida in 1942; barrack-style domiciles were erected for them in 1943.

The Warwick Area Migrant Committee was established in 1959 to help provide needed services for these workers and their families.

 

The First Wave: Southern Workers and Puerto Ricans

Due to labor shortages resulting from World War II, there was increasing difficulty making sure that crops were planted, tended, and harvested.  So critical was this to the nation's well being, that the Federal government stepped in to help connect migrant workers with farms.  Black Americans  with agricultural skills were recruited from the southern states, traveling with the season's cycles. Experienced workers from Puerto Rico were also encouraged.

Almost immediately, it became clear that adequate housing would need to be constructed, and services put in place to tend to the needs of these workers, who due to the seasonal and weather related nature of agriculture, often worked long hours with little time or funds to access services like heath and child care.

The Next Workers: Mexican & Central American Migrants

By the 1970s, a significant proportion of the migrant workers helping Warwick's farmers were from Mexico, and then increasingly from Central American countries such as Guatemala, and Jamaica.