The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 58
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Once again, the industry in San Antonio returned to mechani-
zation in order to keep pace with the rest of the industry in the
nation. With new and better equipment came the need for fewer
employees. By March, 1939, the Southern Pecan Shelling Com-
pany employed 1,8oo shellers at twenty-five cents an hour. Three
months later that number dropped to 8oo. In 1941, the employ-
ment figure for the company was 6oo.44 The pecan shelling in-
dustry of San Antonio, once a major employer of Mexican labor,
had declined to relative insignificance. Many displaced workers
contracted with agents as migratory farm laborers, others were
absorbed by local industry, and World War II took up the re-
mainder at that time.
The health warning given by the Focus magazine report, the
enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the consequent
conversion to mechanization brought an end to the contract home
shelling of pecans. A few hand shelling plants opened, however, in
an effort to avoid coming under the provisions of the wage and
hour law. Those plants claimed they were engaged in business only
within the state of Texas and therefore the law did not apply to
them. In October, 1939, three officials of the United States Food
and Drug Administration began an educational survey of pecan
shelling in San Antonio aimed at locating and eliminating all
possible sources of contamination. The inspectors warned that all
interstate shipments would be confiscated if found to be contam-
The major problems of the pecan shelling plants in San An-
tonio were finally brought under control and the industry went
peacefully about its business of preparing pecans for the con-
sumers of the nation. As a result of the tremendous decline in
employees, the union expired in 1948, and with it the epoch of
pecan shelling in San Antonio, though the industry remains.
"San Antonio Express, October 31, 1939.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/76/: accessed May 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.