Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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A Note on Sources

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pp. xi-xvi

Quotes that appear in the text—in the narrative—are my translations of the original Spanish-language writings found in the letters. I have lightly edited those quotes when using phrases that come from complete sentences found in the letters by capitalizing the first word of the sentence and adding...

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Introduction. An Archive of Intimacy​

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pp. 1-32

Until recently, at the bottom of my closet sat a neatly organized treasure trove of over 300 personal letters written in the 1960s and early 1970s and exchanged among family members across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Written in Spanish with sprinklings of English, they contain a wealth of insight about...

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1. Oye Shelly: Migrant Longing, Courtship, and Gendered Identity

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pp. 33-66

In December 1963, a week after returning to Imperial Valley following a brief visit home to Mexico for the holidays, José Chávez Esparza, a farmworker, sat down to write a letter to María Concepcíon “Conchita” Alvarado, a young woman he met during his trip. Thirty years old, single, and longing...

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2. Tu Peor Es Nada: Gender, Courtship, and Marriage

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pp. 67-98

In August 1964, a month after celebrating her graduation from la secundaria, middle school, in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, María Concepción “Conchita” Alvarado, an outgoing eighteen-year-old young woman, wrote to José Chávez Esparza, her professed admirer, with devastating news. Her hopes to pursue...

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3. Contesta Pronto: Migration, Return Migration, and Paternal Authority

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pp. 99-129

In September 1962, fifty-nine-year-old José Chávez Torres, a father of five, wrote anxiously to his youngest son, Paco Chávez, who had recently migrated to the border town of Mexicali, Baja California. José wanted to know when Paco and his older brother, José Chávez Esparza, as well as his elder two...

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4. A Dios: Migration, Miscommunication, and Heartbreak

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pp. 130-161

In April 1963, after months of waiting for her boyfriend, Paco Chávez, to return home to Calvillo, Aguascalientes, Asunción “Chonita” Alvarado had given up hope. Initially, when Paco had left for el norte in September 1962, the two had communicated consistently through a series of passionate and...

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5. A Toda Madre (ATM): Migrant Dreams and Nightmares in El Norte

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pp. 162-190

In August 1962, Rogelio Martínez Serna, an eighteen-year-old migrant originally from Calvillo, Aguascalientes, living and working in Los Angeles, California, dashed off a letter to his childhood friend Paco Chávez, residing in Mexico. Exasperated, Rogelio had been waiting for Paco’s communication...

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Conclusion. On the Significance of Letter Writing and Letters

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pp. 191-196

In today’s culture of communication, handwritten or typed letters are largely irrelevant forms of producing, sending, and receiving information. The Internet, social media, e-mail, and cell phones and the ability to transmit and receive messages instantaneously have replaced correspondence and corresponding...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 197-200

Many generous people shared their most intimate and personal archives to help bring together what I call an attempt to map a slice in the life of my family’s history across the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. First and foremost are my tío Paco Chávez and his late wife, Beatríz Chávez, the keepers of the...

Notes

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pp. 201-240

Bibliography

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pp. 241-254

Index

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pp. 255-262