Like other immigrants, Mexicans came to south central Kansas in search of a better life for themselves and their families.
Conditions in their home land caused them to make the long journey to a new home. As did the European immigrants and the Asian immigrants, the Mexican immigrants came with full intentions of making this their home and adopting the culture and language of their new home. They all came to be citizens of the United States.
The Mexican immigrants had unique connections to the land. They did not travel across an ocean and had easier access to their place of origin. In the very early days of this migration, men often came alone to work the railroads and would return home in the winter when there was no railroad work. This did not last long, has they soon began bringing their families and finding year round employment. It was obvious that these immigrants had come to stay. In many ways they had more right to come than did the Europeans or Asians. This land of the plains was once part of the Spanish holdings to which their ancestors belonged. The Mexican people are a multicultural mixed heritage population. Most Mexicans are a mixed people of Spanish and Natives American heritage. Through this heritage they are as much native as immigrant.
When Mexicans came to the country in the early part of the 1900s the immigration laws allowed the free flow of Mexican labor into the United States. Only later did these immigrants become classified as illegal immigrants. The INA was created in 1952 and thousand of Mexicans all of a sudden become “illegal” after 20 or more years in the U.S. until a green card was acquired.
This exhibit presents their history in Wichita through family stories obtained from interviews, oral histories, and scholarly documentation. The stories form the bases for the presentation of the community's physical and social history. The following pages will provide views of the community's growth, work, and family.