When Ernesto Galarza was eight, he and his parents migrated to Sacramento, California, where he worked as a farm laborer. Ernesto was an excellent student. He became one of the first Mexican-Americans from a poor background to complete college. Later he received a M.A. from Stanford in 1929, and a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1944. Galarza came back to California, where he tried to organize unions for farm laborers. While this effort failed, it created the foundation for the United Farm Workers Union of the 1960s. He wrote several books, most notably the 1964 Merchants of Labor, on the exploitation of Mexican contract workers, and the 1971 Barrio Boy, that about his own childhood. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976.