Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has created and will be distributing 5,000 bilingual poster sets nationally through schools, migrant education centers, museums, and libraries based on the content of the popular Smithsonian exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964. This exhibit, which opened at the Smithsonian in 2009 and is currently on a national tour, explores the little-known story of the Bracero Program; the largest guest worker program in U.S. history. Between 1942 and 1964, millions of Mexican men came to the U.S. on short-term labor contracts.

The poster set not only tells a story of exploitation but also one of opportunity. It will be a portable teaching resource that offers historical context, asks big questions, challenges perceptions, tells powerful stories, and provides a platform which encourages dialogue and civic engagement.

Bittersweet Harvest was organized by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the SITES, and received support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

For more information, contact Stephanie McCoy-Johnson.


Check the traveling exhibition schedule!


Press release

Media only: Jennifer Schommer
(202) 633-3121;

Media website:

Smithsonian Shares Compelling Story of the Bracero Program with Communities Nationwide through Educational Poster Set

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) will feature a little-known chapter in American history as its fall 2012 free resource for schools, migrant education centers, museums and libraries across the country. “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964,” a colorful set of six bilingual posters with images and interviews by documentary photographer Leonard Nadel, is based on the traveling exhibition by the same name, currently touring the United States.

The goal of the poster sets is to celebrate the impact and achievements of migrant farm workers by enabling people of all ages to learn more about the stories behind the Braceros. Online educational resources and downloadable poster files are available at Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated a series 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 significant impact on the political, economic and social climate of both the United States and Mexico. “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.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history.

For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000. The Smithsonian Latino Center is dedicated to ensuring that Latino contributions to arts, sciences and the humanities are highlighted, understood and advanced through the development and support of public programs, scholarly research, museum collections and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian Institution and its affiliated organizations across the United States.

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About this Project
  • Traveling Exhibition
  • Online Exhibition

  • Posters
  • Download Posters
  • Poster Handbook
  • Survey for Participants

  • Educational Materials
  • Bracero Education at Smithsonian
  • Creating Oral Histories

  • Other Resources
  • Bracero History Archive
  • Poster 1
    Poster 2
    Poster 3
    Poster 4
    Poster 5
    Poster 6

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    Portfolio Set


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