From the founding of Ybor City in 1886 to the dispersal of Tampa's Latin population in the years following World War II, this book documents the history of the Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants who created the cigar industry in Tampa and the extraordinary multi-ethnic community that flourished around it. Over 200 photos capture this community's personalities and way of life while commentary drawn from newspaper accounts, oral histories, and archival documents identifies and explains each photograph's historical place and significance. In linking the photographs with historical text, the authors allow the cigar workers to tell their own story, in the language of their day. The rich photographic record around which the book is organized documents the lives of the immigrant cigar workers not only in the workplace but also in their vibrant neighborhoods in Ybor City and West Tampa. Highlighting the diversity of the cigar workers' community, the book depicts the making of cigars, the work culture, local support for the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898), unions and strikes, community institutions such as mutual aid clubs, leisure activities, and social practices surrounding courtship, marriage, and death. Focusing on the public spaces of work and society as well the private sphere of the home, Tampa's Cigar Workers ultimately tells an inspiring and deeply moving story of how immigrant cigar workers from Cuba, Spain, and Italy carved out their space in Tampa while struggling to survive economically and defending their ideals and way of life.
Robert P. Ingalls is professor of history at the University of South Florida. He is the author of Urban Vigilantes in the New South: Tampa, 1882-1936. Louis A. Perez, Jr., is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. One of the nation's leading scholars in Cuban studies, he is the author of On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture and Winds of Change: Hurricanes and the Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Cuba.