Californians and Others: Children's Health, Nutrition, and Welfare in Depression-Era Migrant Camps

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This state-level study emphasizes the influence of local administration on welfare provision, even amidst a huge national New Deal effort. It interrogates John Steinbeck's allegation in “Starvation under the Orange Trees” that migrant children died avoidable deaths in Depression-era California because of discriminatory policies and apathetic officials. Steinbeck's reportage was a political vehicle for his own ends rather than accurate social history. But with hospital care being reserved for local residents and racialized inferior food rations provided to Mexican American children, California's Depression-era welfare system favoured white Californian children over those it categorized as “others,” with potentially deadly consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230
Number of pages252
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • California
  • Child Poverty
  • New Deal
  • Great Depression
  • John Steinbeck

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