US Americanization Programs Intended to “Civilize” Mexican Students

Quick status update: Two more chapters to go! I am so close!

Now on to the real topic of this post…

A father and his children

I have done hundreds of hours of research for my novel and learned about many facets of the Mexican Revolution including the treatment of some Mexican immigrants escaping the war only to come here and face systemic, sanctioned prejudice.

What follows is a segment from a chapter I wrote regarding an “Americanization Program” instituted in the school my protagonist, Evangelina attends. This happened in places across the US. The text is from a letter Evangelina takes home to her mother after the first day at school.

“This letter is for the mother of the foreign-born child or children in your household. Your son or daughter is now attending Seneca School in Mason County, Texas. As a good Christian and servant of the Lord, I have been asked to teach your child how to become an ideal American.

I, along with the other good women of Seneca want you and your child to learn important lessons which will be more in line with traditional customs and foster greater respect for our law-abiding country.

First, let me say that I am encouraged by what I’ve experienced so far with the other foreign women and children for whom I’ve been asked to educate, and it is my pleasure to do so. Your son or daughter will be learning things like how to set a table and serve food, how to dress properly and attend to basic hygiene as the unsanitariness often found in less civilized cultures will not be tolerated. As we all know, that can spread disease. Our collective health is of utmost importance as I’m sure you’ll agree.

This will require patience on my part to be sure, as I know you come from a country with very different habits, but if we work together for the good of the community and America at large, I’m sure we will all be proud when you and your child learn and apply the essential things you need to be valued here and help us solve the social problems that come with so many foreigners crossing our borders.

Once the first lessons are complete, we will move to the decorative arts as the foreign-born mind expresses itself best through simple activities rather than theories such as are required for math or science.

I look forward to the progress that is sure to come. I also offer my services should you want me to come to your home and impart these lessons on other members of your household.

Mrs Sigmund Clayton”

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