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Picking Oranges at Santa Ana

Agricultural laborers pack crates of citrus in an orange grove in Santa Ana, California. One man stands on a ladder in the background.
Blanchard, James B.
circa 1895
Gelatin Silver Print
Picking Oranges at Santa Ana, circa 1895; General Subjects Photography Collection, PC-GS-Agriculture-Crops-Oranges-Picking; California Historical Society.

This primary source is a photograph of people who worked picking oranges in Santa Ana. Many people found work in fields picking, harvesting, or even canning these kinds of crops. Jobs in orange fields like this are called seasonal jobs, which means that there is a lot of work in some seasons of the year but not much work in other times of the year. Many workers have moved around the state during the different seasons to take jobs when they are available. These workers show us that there is a mixture of push factors that cause workers to leave one place when the job is done, and pull factors that cause workers to come to another part of the state when other crops are ready to be harvested.

The mild climate of California made farming a major business in the state’s economy. Agricultural crops needed to be harvested, and many people traveled to California to become part of the workforce. This photograph can illustrate many reasons why people move to and within California. Students may wish to explore the idea that workers in this photograph and in some other agricultural industries are motivated by both push and pull factors in their migrations. This photo also illustrates continuities in the experience of agricultural laborers in California.