Company town. Blighted community. Beloved home. Nestled on the banks of the Rio Grande, at the heart of a railroad, mining, and smelting empire, Smeltertown--"La Esmelda," as its residents called it--was home to generations of ethnic Mexicans who labored at the American Smelting and Refining Company in El Paso, Texas.
Using newspapers, personal archives, photographs, employee records, parish newsletters, and interviews with former residents, including her own relatives, Monica Perales unearths the history of this forgotten community. Spanning almost a century, "Smeltertown" traces the birth, growth, and ultimate demise of a working class community in the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border and places ethnic Mexicans at the center of transnational capitalism and the making of the urban West. Perales shows that Smeltertown was composed of multiple real and imagined social worlds created by the company, the church, the schools, and the residents themselves. Within these dynamic social worlds, residents forged permanence and meaning in the shadow of the smelter's giant smokestacks. "Smeltertown" provides insight into how people and places invent and reinvent themselves and illuminates a vibrant community grappling with its own sense of itself and its place in history and collective memory.
Smeltertown is an engaging exploration of the intersections of globalization and transnationalism." --The Journal of American History Smeltertown
is an important contribution to the growing body of research in Mexican American, gender, and social history.--Journal of Southern History
A significant contribution to our understanding of Chicana/o and labor history. . . . Aside from being thoroughly researched, Perales's book is excellently composed. . . . It will be of use to labor, gender, environmental, and social historians.--Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In addition to telling the story of the birth, life, and demise of a vibrant community, Smeltertown
provides valuable insights.--Humanities Texas
Highly recommended.--Southern Historian
Historian [Perales] chronicles [the] birth, growth, and death of her family's neighborhood. . . . [in] the first in-depth book about Smeltertown.--El Paso Times
Perales chronicle[s] the journey of Mexican-Americans and their role in the industrialization and globalization of a small community near El Paso. Her book . . . tells their story where families thrived and business excelled.--Houston Chronicle
Not just a narrative history . . . but also a look at how the community was created by Anglos and Hispanics, citizens and immigrants, rich and poor. . . . This well-researched and well-documented work would be a good addition for academic libraries, especially collections related to borderlands studies or labor issues.--Library Journal