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California Cultures

Everyday Life: Hispanic Americans

Questions to Consider

What recurring themes do you see in these images from the 1940s to the 1970s?

What Hispanic cultural traditions are reflected in some of these images?

What cultural changes do you see reflected in these images from the 1940s to the 1970s?

About the Images

The images in this topic provide a glimpse into the daily lives and changing lifestyles of California's Hispanic Americans during the 1940s, 50s, 60s,and 70s, as the nation moved from the World War II years to the era of social reform. These formal portraits and snapshots reflect family life, culture, and religious celebrations.


These photographs from the 1940s through the 1970s show Hispanic Californians at home, at work, and at play. Family groups and couples posed for snapshots and formal portraits, and took photographs to commemorate important life passages: first communions, weddings, birthdays, and funerals. And they shared celebrations of cultural traditions: a Cinco de Mayo parade, a Las Posados procession, and piñatas, which soon made their way into homes and parties outside the Hispanic community.

Photographs taken at home and work during the 1950s show people in candid and posed shots. At home, Daniel Correia poses in front of the corn growing in his Anaheim garden. The Valles family poses in front of their ice cream truck (the sign shows that snowcones cost 10 cents). Erlinda Aparecio hangs laundry to dry in her yard. In an image from 1947, a customer purchases goods at a shop located near the Chavez Ravine bus terminal. A 1951 photograph shows women standing on the steps on a home in Chavez ravine, a Los Angeles barrio that was razed a few years later to build Dodger Stadium.

The images also show participation in sports. The 1946 group portrait of the La Palma Elementary School softball team features the coach, identified as “Mr. Jimenez, possibly the first Hispanic coach in Anaheim.” And a La Raza-style silkscreen poster from the 1970s promotes “The 2nd Annual Chicano Softball Tournament.” Another image shows the beginning the “Run for the Arts” race, sponsored by a Chicano Arts group.

This collection of images portrays both Hispanic cultural influences on American culture and the influence of American culture on new immigrants, and the vibrancy of the Hispanic influence on politics, culture, and art in California.

California Content Standards

English-Language Arts

Grade 11:

1.0 Writing Strategies: Research and Technology

2.0 Writing Applications
2.4 Write historical investigation reports.

2.0 Speaking Applications
2.2 Deliver oral reports on historical investigations
2.4 Deliver multimedia presentations.

History-Social Science

Grade 11:

11.8 Students analyze the economic boom and social transformation of post-World War II America. (11.8.2, 11.8.8)

11.9 Students analyze U.S. foreign policy since World War II. (11.9.7)

11.11 Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary American society. (11.11.1, 11.11.3, 11.11.7)

Visual Arts

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context Understanding the Historical Contributions and Cultural Dimensions of the Visual Arts. Students analyze the role and development of the visual arts in past and present cultures throughout the world, noting human diversity as it relates to the visual arts and artists.

First Communion of Sabina Villasenor of 10781 Cedar St. in 1949 Gonzales Family La Palma Elementary School Softball Team, Group Portrait, Anaheim [graphic]
Ornelas Family Photo First aid class at the Avila Adobe on Olvera Street, Los Angeles (Calif.) Orozco Family
Cinco de Mayo Parade David V. Jimenez Leon C. Ortiz and Sons Tortilla Store
Bus terminal store in Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles (Calif.) Rose Veyna's First Communion, Anaheim [graphic] Las Posadas procession on Olvera Street, Los Angeles (Calif.)
Wedding at St. Edward's Rachel Jimenez and Jess Ramirez Wedding Ladislado Ortiz with Cat
Daniel Corria in Garden, Anaheim [graphic] Esther and Daniel Munoz Home in Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles (Calif.)
Luciano C. Ortiz and Maria Ortiz Burial, Susana Ortiz Ortiz family picture
Rosie Gonzales' First Communion, Anaheim [graphic] Valles Family Erlinda Aparicio
Rudy and Alicia Ramos Pinata at Rubens Birthday party, [graphic] Erlinda Aparicio
Las Posadas festivities on Olvera Street, Los Angeles (Calif.) Bride Selling pinatas on Olvera Street, Los Angeles (Calif.)
"Park of the Future". Mission Districts Farfield Square, 26th and Harrison Streets. Children breaking candy-filled pinata :108 2nd Annual Chicano Softball Tournament, Announcement Poster for "Run for the Arts" Race

Note about picture captions

The original captions on some of the historical photographs may include racial terms that were commonplace at the time, but considered to be derogatory today.

Calisphere: Related Materials

Lesson Plans

Stealing Home How Race Relations, Politics, and Baseball Transformed Chavez Ravine

Analysis Tools

6C's of Primary Source Analysis (PDF) (Source: UCI History Project)
Photographs (PDF) (Source: Library of Congress)
Posters/Visuals (PDF) (Source: Bringing History Home)
Written Documents (PDF) (Source: NARA)
Primary Source Activity (PDF) (Source: Library of Congress)