A WTVP production written and produced by Will and Luz Schick, Boxcar People tells the story of Mexican workers recruited in the early 1900s to work the railroads in Galesburg, Illinois. At a time when their own country was torn by a bloody civil war, American industry came to Mexico looking for workers to replace the men gone off to fight in WWI. To a culture centered on family, the railroads were particularly attractive to Mexicans displaced by chaos and war. For the rail companies provided not just a job, but a place to raise a family. Each worker was offered a home - a home in the form of a boxcar. Using historic film, original testimonials and photos from the actual inhabitants of the boxcar camps, Boxcar People goes beyond descriptions of horrible living conditions, dangerous and back-breaking work, and harsh discrimination to tell the tale of a proud people with strong traditions and deep faith who came to love their adopted country and all the opportunities it offered.
Various histories of Galesburg are available freely online:
First published in 1937 in honor of the Galesburg and Knox College Centenary, the book contains a wealth of lively details and amusing anecdotes. Calkins traces the progress of the community and the college through the arrival of the railroad, slave running, abolitionist confrontations, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Civil War, and the postwar era.