The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966

he ca Shellers of San A lto)io
ald Aechanizatiov
is the illusion of stability and the reality of perpetual
innovation. Modern Americans find themselves desiring
stability, yet manifesting ceaseless change. Fortunately, man has
a mental capacity which enables him to solve problems as they
arise. Evidence of that is seen with the introduction of machinery
into the United States, and the ensuing necessity of adapting
social and cultural life to the economic changes fostered by
mechanization. When the introduction of machinery comes grad-
ually, the task of adjustment is facilitated, but when mechaniza-
tion is introduced almost overnight, as it was at the close of 1938
in the pecan shelling industry of San Antonio, Texas, the problem
is acute.
Such was the situation confronting the city administration and
the relief authorities of San Antonio when approximately 8,ooo
Mexican pecan shellers were put out of work because the pecan
shelling industry closed its doors in October, 1938, rather than
meet the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Excepting a few descendants of Mexican settlers in San Antonio
when the first Americans came in the early 18oo's, nearly all of
the Mexicans there were either twentieth century migrants or
their offspring. The largest number of Mexican immigrants came
to the United States in the 192o's, when expanding cotton and
vegetable farms in Texas needed cheap labor and immigration
from the Orient had been stopped.
San Antonio attracted a large portion of those Mexicans for
three main reasons: there was already a colony of Mexicans lo-
cated there; San Antonio's location near the border made it a
vantage point with respect to the areas where seasonal agricultural
workers were needed; and, the industries of the city wanted a

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed August 27, 2014.