Margo McBane



University of California Los Angeles, History


University of California Davis, History


Stanford University, Education


University of California Santa Cruz, Community Studies


DMH 321





Areas of Interest

  • U.S. Women's History
  • U.S. Gender History
  • California History
  • Public History
  • American Social/Labor History
  • History of the West
  • Social History of American Culture
  • U.S. Comparative Ethnic/Racial History
  • Immigration History


(review) 2007: Reviewed Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town, 1880–1960 by José Alamillo, American Historical Review, Spring Issue.

(review) 2005: Reviewed Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769–1913 by Richard Street. Journal of Ethnic History, Spring Issue.

"Whitening A California Citrus Company Town: Racial Segregation Practices at the Limoneira Company and Santa Paula, 1893–1919," Special Issue on "Race and Labor" Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts Journal, Feb. Issue 2011, Indiana University Press.

"Culture Vultures: White New Womanhood's Preserving and Reinterpreting California's 'Primitive' Heritage of Native Americans, Mexicans and The Wilderness, 1880s to 1930s." in Considering America from Inside and Out: A San Jose/Ostrava Dialogue Sharing Perspectives. Ostrava, Czechoslovakia: University of Ostrava Press, 2007.

Co-authored with Anthea Hartig, "'Oranges on the Plains of Id': The Influence of the Citrus Industry on San Gabriel Valley Communities." California Politics and Policy, California State University Los Angeles, 1998.

The Way We Were: Pico Rivera's Citrus History, 1920–1945. (booklet) City of Pico Rivera: Pico Rivera Arts and Culture Commission, 1997.

"The Role of Gender in Citrus Employment; A Case Study of Recruitment, Labor, Housing Patterns at the Limoneira Company, 1893–1940." California History, 1995.

"The History of Women Farmworkers in California." Frontiers, 1983.

"Labor Pains: The History of Women Farmworkers in California." California History, 1978.

History of California Agriculture: Focus on Women Farmworkers. Watsonville: Watsonville Press, 1976.

Radio Productions

"Looking Back: Nuclear Pacifists and the 1950s Peace Movement," 1985, KCSB radio, Santa Barbara, CA.

"Looking Back: U.S. Women Who Worked in Latin America," 1985, KCSB radio, Santa Barbara, CA.

"Looking Back: Women and Work, the 20th Century American Experience," 1985, KCSB radio, Santa Barbara, CA.

"Looking Back: Consider the Alternative: Resisters to the Good War, Parts I and II," 1985, KCSB radio, Santa Barbara, CA.

"Looking Back: The History of Homelessness, Parts I, II, and III," 1985, KCSB radio, Santa Barbara, CA.

"Talkin' Farmwork Blues: The History of Anglo and Asian Farmworkers in California, Part I," 1979, and "Talkin' Farmwork Blues: The History of Mexican Farm Labor in California between 1900-1964, Part II," 1980, both produced at Western Public Radio (NPR affiliate), aired on Pacifica Broadcasting Network (KPFA, KPFK, etc.), held in Pacifica Archives, Los Angeles, CA.


As an historian, I am interested in working within the academy as well as the surrounding community. I am interdisciplinary in my approach to history. My interest in history formed through the lens of community studies, my undergraduate major at UCSC. After conducting field work with the United Farmworkers of America, I wrote my B.A. thesis, "Labor Pains: The History of Women in California Agriculture." I then received a grant from the Youth Project to convert this thesis into a union organizing book for the United Farmworkers of America.

I pursued a high school teaching credential and M.A. in Education from Stanford University. I taught high school social studies at Palo Alto High School and Carmel High School. Concurrently I ventured into the world of public history. I have worked in museums, public radio documentary production, non-profit history development, and municipal history projects (known as Cultural Resource Management). In one such project, I received grants from several foundations including the California Council in the Humanities and the Kellogg Foundation to produce an award-winning two part, two hour radio documentary for public radio, "Talkin' Farmwork Blues: An Oral History of California Farm Labor." I also served as the LA Program Officer for the California Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. My public history specialty is oral history and I at the University of Texas El Paso I became director of the Institute for Oral History as well as Assistant Professor of Public History and U.S. History. Currently I am working part-time as a history lecturer at SJSU while pursuing my public history interests including local history projects: the history of Mexicans of Santa Clara Valley, 1920–1960; the history of northern California surfing, 1885–1960; and the history of the El Paso Chapter of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, 1940–1950s.

I completed my M.A. in History from UC Davis, with my thesis, "The Role of Women in Determining the California Farm Labor Structure: A Case Study of the Woman's Land Army During World War I." Subsequently I obtained an History Ph.D. from UCLA. I received honors in my field with my dissertation, "The House that Lemons Built: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Citizenship, and the Creation of a Citrus Empire, 1893–1919."