Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In addition to discussing border identity, Mexican Brick Culture in the Building of
Texas contributes to border studies through its focus on the bi-nationality of the
industry. One of Cook's main concerns is the interplay between labor and sup-
ply and demand. The former was affected by changing U.S. immigration law.
According to Cook, ladrilleras on the Texas side of the border thrived until the
1950 when Operation Wetback drastically limited the industry's supply of
Mexican brick makers who were exploited by Texans for their skill and inexpen-
sive labor. This reduction in available workers coincided with the increased
demand for Mexican handmade brick by the Texas construction industry. The
combination of these two factors led to the decline of the Texas brick industry
and the corresponding increase of the business on the Mexican side, which had
an abundant supply of workers and could make brick cheaper than its Texas
counterparts. In fact, throughout the twentieth century, the brick industry con-
tinued to vacillate between the Texas side and the Mexican side based on labor
supply and the demand of the Texas construction industry. This clearly demon-
strates the interconnectedness of the border in relation to this industry.
This book is well worth the perusal of anyone interested in border studies for
its analysis of a small bi-national border industry and its workers.
University of Kansas Valerie M. Mendoza
The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. By Linda Gordon. (Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1999. Pp. xv+409. Preface, cast of principal characters,
index, maps, illustrations. ISBN 0-674-36041-9. $29.95, cloth.)
Linda Gordon, best known for her book, Heroes of Their Own Lives (Viking
Penguin, 1988) on child welfare in Boston, shifts her interest in family history to
a western setting. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction pivots around the place-
ment and later abduction of forty orphans in 1904 in Clifton-Morenci, copper-
mining communities in southeastern Arizona, which were predominantly
Mexican, with an enclave of Anglo management and service support. As she tells
the story, she returns to a central theme: the construction of racial identity, par-
ticularly becoming Anglo, or white, in the American West. In this case, Irish chil-
dren from New York journeyed westward on one of the many orphan trains dur-
ing the early twentieth century, and the trip made them white.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, eastern Protestant
child-saving organizations seized on the practice of placing urban immigrant
"orphans" with western families. Seen as a regenerative process, these children
of poverty would learn discipline and family values in the American West. In
contrast to these organizations, which largely placed out Catholic children in
Protestant homes, the New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic institutional
home, created their own orphan trains, and placed Catholic children in
Catholic homes. Again, this trip west transformed the Irish orphans into whites.
In 1904, forty Irish orphans were escorted by Foundling Hospital nuns to
Clifton-Morenci. They had been preassigned to Mexican Catholic families. Eight
local Anglo women galvanized support to "rescue" these white children from
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed March 29, 2015.