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AbstractThis study examines the manifold ways in which fifteen women of Mexican heritage actively participated in the secular, spiritual, and social spheres to improve conditions for themselves and their community in Douglas, Arizona during the first half of the twentieth century. Using interviews, newspapers, US census reports, ephemera, and secondary sources, it highlights the women's agency and the various ways they employed critical and innovative approaches to break through the economic, personal, and structural borders imposed by a corporate and industrial smelter town created by Phelps-Dodge and Company and the Calumet and Arizona Company. In this dissertation I ask, and seek to answer questions such as: why did these women of Mexican heritage choose to settle in Douglas; why did those who were born there remain; and what did this newly established town offer the women in this study that perhaps more established cities in the southwestern United States did not? Because Mexicanas are invisible in the archives and in the historical chronicles of Douglas Arizona, this dissertation employs an interdisciplinary methodology designed to highlight their actions and their contributions to their communities, city, and nation. Influenced by Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldua, I seek to recover history, and what she refers to as la facultad, by relying on the words of the women and their families to offer answers and insight. Despite the challenges of living in the borderlands in a time of limited access to economic and social resources, these women's contributions to history confirm that Mexicanas were not passive subalterns.