Farm Labor in Pleasant Valley, 1940s-1960s

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center is grateful to Leonard Lopez of Moline, Illinois, for donating a set of photographs that document his family’s experiences harvesting onions and other produce for farmers in Pleasant Valley, Iowa.

In fact, we were so fascinated by the stories behind the photographs that we asked him to share them in a public presentation! Please join us this coming Monday evening at 6:00PM in Meeting Room B of The Library| Main Street for “Farm Labor in Pleasant Valley, 1940s-1960s.” The program will also be available via Zoom.

We’ll be showing images like the ones below from the Lopez Photograph Collection (Accession #2023-35), plus others from the Bettendorf Family Museum (by Russell M. Rice), the Schutter family of Pleasant Valley, and the local newspapers. All of these Mr. Lopez has worked hard to locate, identify, and explain.

He has also found other resources for us: more people with memories of working the Pleasant Valley harvests. Mr. José Rafael (“Joe” or “Ralph”) Ramos has graciously agreed to share his experiences in person at the presentation. We’ll include details from interviews with others, too.

Did you top onions or pick tomatoes in Pleasant Valley? Did your family farm there? We’d love to hear from you! Join the discussion on Monday night or contact the Special Collections department of the Davenport Public Library.

At the age of 16, David Lopez worked with this onion sorter on the Wayne Kerr farm. The machine is now on display at the Dan Nagel Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Long Grove (#2023-25.05).
Leonard Lopez picked tomatoes and other produce for Frank B. Clemons, proprietor of this open-air market on State Street in Bettendorf, ca. 1958 (#2023-25.09).
The Lopez family with a family of migrant workers staying on the Ralph Watkins farm, 1961 (#2023-25.01).

(posted by Katie)

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