Interviewees

Vargas, Marcella

Marcella Vargas was born in Puerto Rico in 1948. She grew up on a farm and recalls her father selling produce at a market in San Sebasti√°n every weekend. She migrated to New Jersey at the age of fourteen in 1963, along with some siblings and her parents. She lived at first in Edison with an older brother, who had come to New Jersey previously. Soon after, her mother got established in New Brunswick, where the family settled. She went to public schools for one year, eventually getting her GED. She went to work as a machine operator at New Brunswick Lampshade Company. After getting her high school equivalency, she became a teacher's aide and went through a training at Rutgers-Newark. Later, she did assembly line work making air conditioners at Frigidaire. Most recently, she has worked at Rutgers University Dining in Brower Commons, from which she retired in 2018. In the late 1960s, she met and married her husband in New Brunswick, where they lived while raising their family until moving to Somerset. She has been involved in the Reformed Church in New Brunswick. In the interview, she discusses changes in New Brunswick over the years, the Vietnam War era, her relatives who served in the U.S. military, manufacturing jobs and the effects of industries moving overseas, being a part of a union, her remembrances of hurricanes in Puerto Rico, and voting rights.

This oral history interview was conducted as a part of the Latino/a New Jersey History Project, directed by Dr. Lilia Fernandez.