Date of Award

Spring 3-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Matthew Casey

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Rebecca Tuuri

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Kevin Greene

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 4 School

Social Science and Global Studies


Mexicans and Mexican Americans have been present in Mississippi since the early twentieth century with a large increase in the 1970s. The majority of the scholarship surrounding Mexican migration focuses on the 1990s leaving a historiographical gap concerning this earlier period of significant population growth. This thesis argues that Mexican migrants during the 1970s and 1980s were uniquely affected by Mississippi’s racial climate due to their ambiguous status in a Black and white society, where they fit in neither category. The examination of tactics by businesses, like B.C. Rogers Poultry plant, show the impact recruitment had on migrants’ living conditions and social relations. Migrants saw the chicken plants as a way to meet their need for jobs in the United States, but the workers and their families were deeply affected by the migration and settlement process.

This is a microhistory of families who migrated to Mississippi in the mid 1970s and 1980s. Migrant families’ experiences offer insight into living standards, the complicated nature of transnational relationships, and the role of the Catholic church in community building. By using oral histories of migrants and recruiters, census records, and newspapers a fuller understanding will be gained from this under researched period. This study shows the goals and realities of recruitment, the shift in migration patterns from the 1970s to the 1990s, and ultimately add to the larger migrant pre-history of the better studied 1990s.