This lesson provides students with the context for Mexican recruitment to Bethlehem Steel. Students will analyze a Mexican corrido, or ballad, from the 1920s called the Corrido Pensilvanio. Corridos chronicle important aspects of Mexican and Mexican-American community life, including issues of social justice, cultural conflict, war, heroism, labor, and migration.
The Corrido Pensilvanio depicts the recruitment and migration of Mexican laborers to Bethlehem. It reveals how the industrial experience of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation was a departure from the typical agricultural labor of the southwestern Mexican worker. In addition to analyzing the corrido, students engage with a work advertisement and articles from the San Antonio newspaper, La Prensa, as well as articles from The Bethlehem Globe.La Prensa details the contract agreement between Bethlehem Steel and the Mexican Consulate and provides information regarding wages, transportation, housing arrangements and other accommodations Bethlehem Steel provided. The Bethlehem Globe articles provide insight into the immigration laws and labor shortages that triggered the increased reliance on Mexican labor.