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Oct. 10, 2022

The Effect of the Mexican Revolution on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.

The Mexican Revolution in the early 20th Century was a pivotal moment in Mexican history, and it was also a pivotal moment in United States history, as huge numbers of Mexicans fled war-torn Mexico and headed to the US border. Many Mexican Americans in the US today are the descendants of refugees fleeing the Revolution.

To understand more about the experience of immigrants who came to the United States during the Mexican Revolution, I’m speaking in this episode with writer Alda P. Dobbs, author of middle grade novels Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna and The Other Side of the River.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Bridge - El Paso to Juarez,” Bain News Service, ca. 1910, Photograph retrieved from the Library of Congress, No known restrictions on publication.

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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too.

In today's episode, we're discussing the Mexican Revolution, and its effect on Mexican immigration to the United States. As we discussed on a previous episode, the Mexican War of Independence resulted in Mexico's independence from Spain in September, 1821. Mexico's early years as a nation were turbulent and filled with war and revolution. In 1876, Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori, also known as Porfirio Diaz, led a revolution against Mexican President Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada and defeated Lerdo's forces in November of that year. For the next three decades, Diaz led Mexico except for one four year term, from 1880 to 1884, during which Diaz's handpicked replacement was president. Despite basing his revolution on the idea the presidents should serve for only one term, Diaz had the rules changed so that he could run again and again, in what was a de facto dictatorship. Under Diaz, Mexico did experience stability and economic growth. However, the economic growth mainly benefited Diaz's upper class allies, and the growing economic disparity led to discontentment among the poor working class. Diaz had talked about retiring in 1910, but he never planned for succession, and he ended up running for reelection again in 1910 when he was 80 against Francisco Madero. Madero was an elite landowner, who had published a book in 1908, calling for voters to prevent the re- election of the increasingly authoritarian Diaz in 1910. Madero had garnered a lot of popular support before he ran. In an attempt to assure his own victory, Diaz jailed Madero, who managed to escape from jail. When the official results of the election were announced by the Diaz administration, they claimed that Diaz had won in a near unanimous reelection. The clear deception and fraud sparked outrage and Madero called for revolution in the Plan of San Luis Potosi. The Revolutionary Army proved to be strong against the Federales. And in May, 1910, Diaz resigned and went into exile. An interim government was installed, and Madero was elected president and took office in November, 1911. However, Madero immediately faced rebellion of his own, and his fragile government did not hold. In February, 1913, there was a coup d'etat by generals from the Diaz administration. Madero was ousted and assassinated. General Victoriano Huerta declared himself president, launching a bloodier phase of the revolution. Huerta's reign was short lived, and power changed hands again. On February 5, 1917, Mexico adopted the Constitution of 1917, which established universal male suffrage and promoted workers rights and land reform. The 1917 constitution is still in effect in Mexico today. Venustiano Carranza, who had formerly been governor of a northern Mexico state, was elected president under the new constitution, and he served until 1920. When Carranza attempted to name his own successor, there was one final coup by military generals, leading to Carranza's death. The election of General Alvaro Obregon Salido to the presidency in 1920, is considered to be the end of the revolution, and it began a period of rule in Mexico my military generals.

The violent years of the Mexican Revolution were devastating to the people of Mexico, who had to contend with fighting in their own backyard, forced conscription, and the destruction of their villages. Some of them chose to walk for days across the scorching desert for a chance at escaping to the United States. It is likely that many Mexican immigrants were never counted; but of those who were counted in the US Census, the number of Mexican immigrants to the United States tripled from 1910 to 1930, from 200,000 to 600,000. Not all of those immigrants permanently settled in the US. The border was open and porous, and many immigrants returned to Mexico when conditions were favorable. Many more may have hoped to return. Such a large influx of refugees from Mexico shaped the United States in important ways. It remains the case that many Mexican Americans in the United States today are the descendants of refugees fleeing the revolution. Most of these immigrants came to the United States via bridges that connect to towns in northern Mexico, with towns on the southern border of Texas, over the raging Rio Grande. In October, 1913, a crowd of over 6000 refugees tried to cross the bridge from Piedras Negras. The Federales arrived in the town, after the revolutionary forces marched out. The US Army forces, gathered on the Texas side of the border, had temporarily closed the bridge, because of the huge numbers of people trying to cross, and because of an outbreak of smallpox in the refugee camp in Texas. They opened the bridge to allow the refugees to escape the approaching Federales. Making it safely across the border was only the first step. From there, immigrants would need to find work and housing, both of which could sometimes be in short supply in the border towns, as more and more refugees came. Some were recruited by employers to work in mines, railroads, and farms. Many of the immigrants moved beyond the border communities into the Midwest, forming enclaves of Mexican immigrants in cities throughout the Midwest. With the establishment of the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, immigration from Asia was largely outlawed, and quotas were set for immigration from other countries. But immigration from the Western Hemisphere was not affected. Two days after the passage of the act, the United States Border Patrol was established largely to patrol the southern border. Mexican immigrants were taxed $10 when they immigrated to the United States; but because of their willingness to provide cheap labor in the US, they were allowed to continue immigrating in large numbers. Joining me now to help us understand the experience of Mexicans fleeing the revolution and immigrating to the United States, is writer Alda P. Dobbs, author of middle grade novels, "Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna," and "The Other Side of the River." Hello, Alda, thanks so much for joining me today.

Alda P. Dobbs  9:51  
Oh, thank you for having me here. Appreciate it.

Kelly Therese Pollock  9:54  
Yes, I think this is the first episode I've done with someone who's written books for a younger audience, so I'm really excited about that. And I wanted to start by asking you, I know you have this family connection to the stories that you tell, if you could talk a little bit about the inspiration for your books, how you got started in writing these.

Alda P. Dobbs  10:16  
Yeah, so thank you, Kelly for having me here as a young writer or writer for young children, because I'm not young myself, but children. I'm very honored. But yes, there's a lot of history here. I have two books. My first one is "Barefoot Dreams with Petra Luna." And that one came out last year, and that was inspired by my great grandmother, and her, honestly, her trek, or her journey of escaping the Mexican Revolution back in 1913. And it was inspired by her and her family crossing the desert, fleeing the Federales, and trying to make it north into the United States. I have a second book that came out just last week called "The Other Side of the River." And that one also follows Petra Luna, the character, but now she's on the other side of the river in the United States. And now it's her in the refugee camp, just like my great grandmother was in a refugee camp in Eagle Pass, Texas. And then it follows the character to San Antonio, Texas where 30,000 refugees ended up. And in a city of 100,000 people, 30,000 refugees, you know, puts a lot of pressure in the city with limited resources, employment, housing, but that's something I wanted young readers to to realize, you know, the struggles of, of people back then and how that compares to modern times.

Kelly Therese Pollock  11:35  
And you had a whole other career before you started writing these books. What made you decide when you wanted to tell the story that you wanted to tell it for, I think this was called like middle grade fiction or something, that you wanted to tell it for that audience?

Alda P. Dobbs  11:50  
Yes, my background's in engineering. I studied physics and engineering in school. And I worked as an engineer, and 12 years ago, my husband knew that I've always had a passion for stories. And I always had ideas railing in my head, and I wanted to put them in paper, but I never had that confidence in the English language is because Spanish was my first language. And I growing up, I always thought you had to dominate, you know, to speak perfect English in order to write a book. And which I realized, no, that's not the case. And 12 years ago, I decided to write for children. And the reason I chose that age is just there, it's an age of wonder, and there's so much, you know. I tell kids, "You know, you're at this at the edge of a precipice, you know, you're looking back at your family, and you're looking ahead when your journey starts as an individual." And I just love that moment of, you know, you're trying to hold to both worlds. And that's what I want my character to experience too, because she's very tied to her family yet. She also wants that independence. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  11:50  
Yeah, and so this is historical fiction. And of course, you had the stories from your great grandmother and your grandmother. But you also did a lot of research to make sure that that things were accurate. Can you talk some about that process of doing research and figuring out like, how you incorporate facts and actual times and dates and places in a book like this?

Alda P. Dobbs  11:58  
There is a lot of research oh, my goodness. I because I originally grew up with those stories, but at one point I said, "Okay, before I write them, I need to find out if they're true." So yeah, that was a daunting task is nobody everybody knew the details of where it happened when it by if you where, how, many other questions except the when. Nobody knew when and my great grandmother had already passed. My grandmother, my mom didn't know the year or any dates. So I said, "No biggie. I'll go to the library, check out books from the Mexican Revolution." I found about 40 books, and in English and Spanish, read them all took me about a year and a half. And there was nothing about my great grandmother's story, especially the climax of book one where she gets to the bridge, the International Bridge at Eagle Pass, Texas. There was nothing in the whole turmoil of her with hundreds of people trying to cross. And when I didn't find anything, a paragraph or sentence describing that incident, that's, you know, after a while, after reading 40 books in a year and a half, I was about to give up. I said, "You know what, it probably never happened. She was nine years old at the time. She probably imagined it, got spooked by a couple of Federales walking by. It wasn't a whole, you know, platoon company chasing after them." So I was about to give up when a librarian said, "You know, try this resource. Have you tried this one, and it was it was a website that showed all the newspapers that had been published in Texas. And at this point, I knew when the Mexican Revolution started, I had a date for that. So I said, "You know what, let me sit down and start reading every newspaper that was published from that date on and eventually I'll have to come across something that my great grandmother described." So this was kind of a leap of faith and then I began reading reading paper after paper but it was like watching the news. It's like sitting in front of a TV and you know, seeing the advertisements with people eating, wearing, everything from  the era. And after seven months of reading newspapers every day, I finally came across a headline that, you know, it was a story of what my great grandmother had experienced. Everything, every detail was in that story. The only thing she was off about was that she said it was hundreds of people. And it was like, 3000 people, it was 7000 people who crossed that bridge desperately because the Federales were chasing after them. And that's when I said, "Okay, I have to write about the story, let let people know what it is and so that people are encouraged to seek their own family stories as well and share them."

Kelly Therese Pollock  15:42  
Yeah. So the the great thing about doing this as in novel form is that you get to be inside the head of Petra Luna and get sort of her experience of her story. And it's it's harrowing, this journey across the desert to get to the border. And then it's harrowing again, in the second book, when they're on the other side and trying to figure out can we even make a life here? You know, what's that going to look like? Talk to me a little bit about sort of your, your process of writing, you know, you've got all these, these facts and things, historical events, but also this character that you need to several characters that you need to develop? Like, what what is your process in writing of sort of getting all of that into a narrative, into a story?

Yeah, it's, it's almost like cooking a big feast, you know, you get so many ingredients, and they gotta match variety, and not, you know, good balance. And that's why the book was inspired by stories from not only my great grandmother, but my grandmother, and also experiences I myself lived as, as an immigrant, and experience as I heard from other people, you know, telling me their experiences, and ones that I've read, and books that were interviews or journals. And those were kind of like the the mortar of this brick wall, you know, you have your historical facts. And all of them were connected by this, or these narratives that I knew about the stories. So that's how I came up with the character, and also her her journey into the United States.

Yeah. And you have these great, you just mentioned drawing on your own experience, you have these great sort of cultural things in the stories as well. So the language is really important in the stories, the food and the music. Can you talk to me some about that? And, you know, it's interesting that you say that you thought you had to be sort of perfect in English to write this because it's actually your background and your heritage that make this such a well rounded, terrific set of stories. 

Alda P. Dobbs  17:46  
Oh, wow, I appreciate that. No, I, I wanted to, once I started writing the story, there were some terms that, that I had in Spanish in my mind that I couldn't translate into English. But I felt the need for them to be part of the story. So I said, "You know what, I'm gonna put them in there and try to let the reader figure out, you know, by context clues what it means." And I've heard some people tell me it worked well, you know, that they felt immersed in the story. So I'm glad that that worked. But yes, I love music, all sorts of music, and especially during the Mexican Revolution, there's a lot of songs that were written and composed. And I wanted to put that essence in there as well. And so I mentioned music a lot. And there are songs that you might recognize, you know, that you've heard at your local Mexican restaurant that will play there. And the foods too that, you know, I think every culture has their own unique foods, and we feel very tied to them. So in "Barefoot Dreams," I do that introduce foods and then and on "The Other Side of the River," I have the Chili Queen, the Chili Queen in San Antonio, which introduces Petra to that, that stand, that type of food as well; because chili was actually invented in San Antonio. So to Petra, it's something that is new, you know. To her, those spices and the way it's mixed and the way that meat is cooked, that's new to her, which a lot of people don't realize that it's a Tex Mex dish. And that's why, you know, I wanted to bring that culture into the, into the books. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  19:15  
Yeah,there's also an interesting thing going on between Petra and her grandmother, thinking about the role of signs and symbols. And, you know, we you know, you've got her grandmother who, of course, is sort of older school. And then and then Petra herself, who wants to be sort of very rational and logical about things. Is that also drawing on anything from from your life? Or is that from sort of stories that you've read and things that you've looked into?

Alda P. Dobbs  19:43  
Yeah, that's a great question because yeah, it's drawn out of my own experiences, because my mother and I both migrated in this country. And we saw things differently when and when when I graduated high school, she thought okay, great. This is because she's, the highest grade she completed was the eighth grade. So when I graduated high school, she thought that was wonderful. You're done. Let's get to work. And when I mentioned no, I wanted to go to college, she didn't see why, what was the need to get a college? So there's a lot of tension there. And but I finally got my degree. And then when I mentioned I wanted to get my master's, again, it was you have your bachelor's, already. Why do you need a master's degree and that's a little more opportunities or not. So I'm glad I stopped there, I didn't get the PhD, otherwise, I would have been another argument there. It's just a different way different perspectives. And that's universal, you always have that between generations where they see things different, yet each generation brings many things of value for the other generation. And that's something I wanted to share, you know that that's a universal across cultures, across time. So you know, you always have those tensions between the previous generation and the new one. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  20:54  
Yeah, and despite what I just said, about Petra, wanting to be sort of logical and rational, she is however religious, and the religion is an important piece to her. So talk to me about what, what that would have been, like, you know, sort of moving for Petra, for her family moving from Mexico to the US, but still holding strong to that faith, to that religion that they have. And there are several moments, both in the first book and the second book, where the church is an important place of refuge, of finding, and in one case, not finding what they need, but you know, but talk to me about the importance of that, that piece of it.

Alda P. Dobbs  21:35  
Yes, and there's a, I mentioned religion, just because you know, I knew people back then, you know, were very tied to it. There's a lot of, you know, people found friends and family and all that. It was a big community, going to Mass, you know, you met people a lot. But something I wanted to bring to the other side as well. And just let her see, because at one point I mentioned about Petra, in "Barefoot Dreams" about Alvalita being upset because she doesn't take them to church often enough, and she's afraid they don't know how to even cross themselves or how to act in church. So it's something that happened to my family as well. My great grandmother and grandmother both worked a lot as children. And there was just, you know, no time. They were working on Sundays, were working every day. So, church, you know, there was always that trying to make it to church trying to teach by the Bible stories and whatnot. So it's something I wanted to bring into the, into the books as well. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  22:32  
Yeah. And you just mentioned working a lot. So let's talk a little bit about child labor. That is a very stark difference between, you know, 1913 and today. It's not just in Mexico, but then in the United States, too. When, when they're in San Antonio, Petra is working at age, I think 12 is how old she is. And not just working, but working six days a week, 10 hours a day, you know, so what did that look like? What you know, what the child labor laws that we sort of operate under today didn't exist yet. So what was life like for people like Petra?

Alda P. Dobbs  23:13  
Yeah, it was, it's amazing, because I do give a presentation at schools. And I tell them the stories of both my grandma and great grandmother how they had to work at a very young age. For instance, my my grandmother got her first job at four at the age of four. So if you think about a four year old, getting hired and shaking hands and saying, "Okay, this is your job now."

Kelly Therese Pollock  23:34  
My kids at four weren't even particularly good at like going to school.

Alda P. Dobbs  23:38  
It's amazing, just that value of survival. So it was a local rancher who hired her and she had to take care of goats. She had 40-50 goats to take care of take care of, and she had to feed them, take them to the creek to drink water, take them, to the pasture straight and back to the corral three times a day, didn't matter if it was hot or cold. That was her job. And she talked about one time being about five years old when she took the goats out of the corral. And as she's taking them to the pastures, an ice storm is approaching very fast. So she realizes she has to take them back for safety. But at this point, temperatures are dropping so quick that the goats don't want to move. They're stiff, and she's trying to get them push them together. And this particular one's a really big goat that's by a creek that doesn't want to move, and that she's trying to push him. So you picture this five year old pushing this big goat. He slips into the creek and she's able to get out, but she's drenched, she's soaking wet. And in her mind, even though she's five, she knows that she has to keep these goats safe because if one of them gets lost or dies, she gets fired. And if she gets fired, there's no money to help her family buy food. So she manages to get all the goats in the corral. And by the time she's shutting the gate, she can't feel her fingers anymore. They're numb, but she locks it. She's able to lock that gate and she knows her mission is accomplished and at that moment, she collapses and later on they told her that it took them three, four hours before they found her and she was blue, completely blue. She almost died from that, at that time from that exposure. So it's it's a perspective about kids working and whatnot. So things we take for granted now.

Kelly Therese Pollock  25:13  
Yeah. Oh my gosh. And so I think, I mean, I think this starts to answer my question. But, you know, when you're writing a middle grade novel, and you're thinking about this age group, obviously, in any novel, there needs to be tension, you need to raise the stakes. But you know, it's not the same maybe as writing a novel for adults and the the kinds of, you know, things that might befall people. But there's some, as I mentioned earlier, some pretty harrowing things that happen in these books, and, you know, harrowing, for a reason, because you're drawing on what life really was like. Can you talk a little bit about that as an author, like, sort of navigating how you want to balance, you know, what things really were like, with, you know, maybe happy endings for kids, you know, like, what, what all of that is like, as an author?

Alda P. Dobbs  26:06  
Yes, it's a fun balance, and you have to when you're writing for kids, and especially if it's a dark subject, like war, you do walk a fine line. But what I feel lucky about is that I'm writing the book for children for that age level, but at the same time, the children that age back then were treated as adults. So you know, they had the responsibility of adults. At 12 years old, a kid could become one of the rebels. Rebels in Mexico during the revolution, would hire  children that were 12 years old or older. Didn't matter if they're a boy or girl, and they were hired, and they would get paid very well, they would get trained and whatnot. So that's one aspect that I was able to because it happened in children. And for the Federales, they would do the forced conscription, conscription of boys. So if a boy was eight years old, or older, they would conscript the boy into the Federales. So it was a dark subject, but it was something that I felt was necessary to translate and put in front of kids, you know, the reality of that of that war, what would make people desperate to want to escape that that violence and that wrath and seek a better life in the United States? 

Kelly Therese Pollock  27:23  
Yeah, I want to ask a little bit more about the the conscription by the Federales, because I think that was a piece that I didn't know a whole lot about going into reading these books, but was so so telling so tense, that, that not only are you worried about war coming to you, not only are you worried about you know, getting killed in war, or houses burned down, that sort of thing. But the men and the boys could actually just be brought in to fight on a side that they didn't agree with that and fighting against people who they did agree with. What did that look like? Was that and how long, if you know, was that that piece of it going on? Because that just seems it's so so tragic.

Alda P. Dobbs  28:10  
Yes, it was. It's amazing just how complex it is just like any other war, but the Mexican Revolution was very, very complicated. The way I see it now, after the research, I kind of compare it to Game of Thrones. We're trying to get power, you know, and they, they push the next person to become the next president. And it's just a lot of violence. So when one president which people had voted in and everybody liked the I think he was voted in it was Francisco Madero, he had been voted in by 99% of the country. And suddenly he gets executed by by one of his generals. And that's when the war really became bloody. And that's when that general became a dictator, and he just became so desperate in trying to fight the masses and he started conscripting men and boys, and it affected you know, the country just when people knew the Federales were coming, they would escape. But you're right, there's a lot of Federales that didn't want to be in the Federales. So the stories I'd hear, I would hear for instance, my great grandmother, she said they dug a big hole in her hut, inside her hut and hid that hole, and that was her hiding and a lot of huts had that you know, but they of course, there is a secret hole. Otherwise, the word went out or they found out they could be executed just for having that that hiding place.

Kelly Therese Pollock  29:36  
Yeah, so in this in this more recent book, you know, the you mentioned sort of the the big climactic scene at the end of "Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna," is there you know, trying to get through the gates try to get to America. And of course, they have all these visions of what America will be what the United States will be like that, you know, the streets will be paved with gold and diamonds and everyone will have a job and I everything will be great. And the reality, of course, is very different than that. So it feels like in some ways that that story is almost more more difficult to tell. Because you're playing with expectations. And because, you know, the it's less obvious sort of where, where they're headed toward. There's not a gate to escape poverty. So I can you talk a little bit about sort of just crafting that story and what what that, what that was like to sort of think about the difference between this expectation that this was this land that was going to just solve everything, and the reality of what that looks like for people?

Alda P. Dobbs  30:44  
Yes, that's something that I experienced myself as an immigrant as well as my mother. And I wanted to put that universal feeling that and that's why I gave Petra a mentor. I gave her the mentor, which is Sister Nora, an Irish nun, who her backstory is that she escaped the the Irish famine. And she and Petra draw the parallels, you know, between their struggles. So they struggled to leave their homelands, yet when they arrived, it's still a struggle to survive in the United States. And like I mentioned in the book, there's opportunities here, but they only come with hard work. Doors open up with hard work. So that's the message I wanted to give to young readers that, you know, despite making it into this country, even though it's a struggle, there's still a lot of struggles here. And you're right about the expectations, because I myself, you know, I came to the United States with my family, and, you know, by all means, we had no money. We had, I mean, our very, very, very humble home and, but going back to Mexico, people thought I was rich, just because I lived in the United States. And I try to explain to some friends that "No, I don't even have a shower in my in my house. That's how poor we are. We use a bucket and a cup, to pour water over our heads to you know, to bathe ourselves." And to me, my friends in Mexico had a shower. And that was I thought they were rich, because they had a shower, they had in their bathroom. And so yeah, so the expectations you live in America, people think you're you're rich, you know. So that's why a lot of people coming into the States say, back then at least they expect that streets, you know, paved, made out of gold and whatnot.

Kelly Therese Pollock  32:21  
So I have to ask, because my eight year old asked me to ask you, will there be a third book?

Alda P. Dobbs  32:26  
Oh, my goodness, that's a great question. No, at the moment, we just have these two books. But if, hey, if readers want it, you know, ask for it. And who knows? It may happen.

Kelly Therese Pollock  32:37  
Arthur wants it.

Alda P. Dobbs  32:40  
Yeah, because I have a third book, but it's a completely different character right now. But you know, as an author, a lot of times your characters keep talking to you. So Petra Luna keeps talking to me, and there's more stories. So yeah, definitely. Well, we'll bring it up.

Kelly Therese Pollock  32:54  
So these are really terrific books. If people would like to get them, how can they buy these books?

Alda P. Dobbs  33:01  
Yes, they are sold anywhere where books are sold, your indie bookshop. There's some of them, if look at my website where I, I have autographed copies there, and you could purchase them from that from that bookstore. So my website is

Kelly Therese Pollock  33:14  
So I don't often read middle grade novels, although there are millions sitting around my house that I could read. But of course, I read these books, and it was really fun as an adult to get through a book really quickly. That's not often the case for books I read for this podcast. It was a terrific experience. And I really enjoyed the stories. It was like page turning, like what's gonna happen next. I really want to know, so I just love them.

Alda P. Dobbs  33:40  
Thank you. Yeah, no, I've probably one of the best compliments that I had was a gentleman from Alabama. He was in his 70s. And he told me, "You know what, I would have never in a million years picked up this book." But his granddaughter had mentioned that I told them and brought it home. And he started opening it up. And he said, "Oh, my goodness, I realized I understood so much now about Mexico and stuff that all my life I didn't know." And so things fell in place, you know, after he read that book. So yeah, that was a very, very big compliment.

Kelly Therese Pollock  34:10  
Yeah, well, and of course, tensions at the border and struggles with refugees are an ongoing thing. And so I think that, that ability to sort of get into these characters and understand I think is just so important. 

Alda P. Dobbs  34:25  
Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to read them. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  34:28  
Yeah.Is there anything else you wanted to make sure we talk about?

Alda P. Dobbs  34:30  
Yeah, just I'm very grateful for this, for the opportunity to be here on your show, and just want to encourage people to seek these stories, especially young readers, you know, encourage your kids to ask for family stories, and so they could pass them on because there's so much to learn from them. And I also tell young readers to share their own stories, you know, because you might have a grandkid writing about you one day. So it's something you got to keep that in mind. So anything you're going through, from COVID to any other adversities you have, share and pass them down.

Kelly Therese Pollock  35:02  
 Excellent. Well, Alda, thank you so much.

Alda P. Dobbs  35:04  
Thank you, Kelly for having me here.

Teddy  35:07  
Thanks for listening to Unsung History. You can find the sources used for this episode To the best of our knowledge, all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on Twitter, or Instagram, @Unsung__History, or on Facebook @UnsungHistorypodcast. To contact us with questions or episode suggestions, please email If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review and tell your friends.


Alda DobbsProfile Photo

Alda Dobbs

Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the historical novels Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna and its followup, The Other Side of the River (September 2022). Her debut novel received a Pura Belpre Honor and is a Texas Bluebonnet Master List selection. Alda was born in a small town in northern Mexico but moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child. She studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She’s as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures and nature as she is about writing. Alda lives with her husband and two children outside Houston, Texas.