Abstract

The Limoneira Company created an agricultural "company town" that led the citrus industry and established a legacy that shaped the southern California citrus belt up through World War II. The founders of the company achieved their accomplishments by promoting their middle class ideas of commerce, race, ethnicity, citizenship, science, and gender. These citrus barons consolidated their control over citrus production vertically integrating, mechanizing, and imposing scientific methods on the production process. Workers became divided from each other along race and gender lines and from their work along skill lines. To control the marketing of citrus, the Limoneira founds led the producer cooperative movement, becoming the dominant member of the California Fruit Growers Exchange (now called Sunkist). The founders sustained this citrus empire by networking their fortunes and friends. The close familial ties between the Limoneira managers and owners, many of whom were also the founders of Union Oil, further strengthened the Limoneira's economic sway in the regions. The Limoneira owners undertook a campaign of industrial paternalism to convert immigrant citrus workers to Protestantism and to Americanize them into white middle class culture. They offered workers acculturation, not assimilation, segregating workers' residences, schools, and community life. The Limoneira Company is an example of the southern California region's first generation of citrus growers (1880s-1920s), yet it maintained its dominant position during the second generation of citrus growing (1920-1950s), when many of the larger southern California citrus ranches subdivided into smaller ranches that became the hallmark of Los Angeles regional communities throughout the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys. The racially segregated towns established by the citrus barons at the turn of the 1900s continue to have reverberations in California's racial tensions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-8652
Print ISSN
1935-8644
Pages
pp. 211-233
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-09
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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