History 642

Dr. P. Dreyfus  



This course will focus on the history of workers in the western United States from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. We will address the social development of the working class in the West as well as workers’ on-going organizational efforts. We will examine any unique aspects of the "western" experience that may have shaped regional labor patterns. Students will consider the effects of migration, immigration, gender, race, and work processes on workers’ lives, mentality and perceived options. Students should emerge with a framework for studying and understanding working class history in general, as well as its specific features in the context of the American West during the nation’s most industrial age.


Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (abridged edition, 2000).

Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape (1996).

Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1971).


The class will read and critically discuss the assigned books and articles and each student will produce a book review on one of the required texts above. Book review instructions appear on a separate link at this website. Required articles and chapters that are not drawn from assigned texts are available on electronic reserve. James Gregory's essay "The West and Workers" is accessible directly from this syllabus by following the link below.

The reading for this course is designed to help students understand the methodology of labor history and the perspectives that historians have brought to bear on the specific subject of working class development in the western United States. The reading is by no means exhaustive, but introduces students to important ways of looking at American labor history. You will not be tested on the reading, but it is essential that you be prepared to discuss assigned materials in class. A central function of the proseminar is group discussion.

It is also expected that the reading will help you think about how to produce your own research paper. Since the principal function of the proseminar is to provide students with the tools to engage in historical research and writing, each student will produce a 12-15-page paper based largely on research in primary sources. The paper must be double-spaced and word-processed in 12-point font, with endnote citations. Research topics will focus on some aspect of post-1877 western U.S. working class history. While the course is broadly regional in scope, it is anticipated that many papers may deal with San Francisco or California due to the availability of local sources at our own Labor Archives here on campus. A list of other archival collections that may be useful to you appears at the end of this syllabus.

Students will meet in conference with the instructor several times over the course of the semester to discuss progress and problems with their on-going research. The last few weeks will be dedicated to in-class presentations and student critiques of projects as they near completion.

Grading will be calculated on the following basis: class participation (including research presentations and critiques) 20%, book review 20%, research paper 60%. A late book review or late paper will automatically be discounted by one full grade level (10%). In addition, university policy requires students who wish to receive a grade of "incomplete" to file a formal petition with the instructor. These petitions are available in department offices. Any student who has not completed the course assignments and has not submitted a petition will receive a grade of "U," which represents an unauthorized withdrawal and is equivalent to an "F."



     Carlos Schwantes, "Wage Earners and Wealth Makers," from Clyde Milner et al, eds., Oxford History of the American West (1994).

     James Gregory, "The West and Workers, 1870-1930," in Deverell, ed., Blackwell Companion to the American West (2004).



September 18        LATE 19th CENTURY CALIFORNIA

     Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy.

     Rob Weir, "Blind in One Eye Only: Western and Eastern Knights of Labor View the Chinese Question," Labor History 41:4 (2000).

     Daniel Cornford, "To Save the Republic: The California Workingmen’s Party in Humboldt County," California History 66:2 (1987).

     Steven Levi, "The Battle for the 8-hour Day in San Francisco," California History 57:4 (1978-79).

September 25        CLASS WILL NOT MEET - YOM KIPPUR


     Melvyn Dubofsky, "The Origins of Western Working Class Radicalism, 1890-1905," Labor History 7:2 (1966).

     Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, chapters 1-4, 8, 12-16.

     Richard Rajala, "A Dandy Bunch of Wobblies: Pacific Northwest Loggers and the Industrial Workers of the World, 1900-1920," Labor History 37:2 (1996).

     Richard Rajala, Clearcutting the Pacific Rainforest (1998), chapters 1-2.


     Colleen O’Neill, "Domesticity Deployed: Gender, Race, and the Construction of Class Struggle in the Bisbee Deportations," Labor History 34:2-3 (1993).

     Philip Dreyfus, "Reds, Whites and Greeks: The IWW and the Limits of Inter-Ethnic Organizing," Labor History 38:4 (1997).

     Gunther Peck, "Reinventing Free Labor: Immigrant Padrones and Contract Laborers in North America, 1885-1925," J. of American History 83:3 (1996).

     Philip Mellinger, "How the IWW Lost Its Western Heartland: Western Labor History Revisited," Western Historical Quarterly 27:3 (1996).




     Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land.

     Tomas Almaguer, "Racial Domination and Class Conflict in Capitalist Agriculture: The Oxnard Sugar Beet Workers’ Strike of 1903," Labor History 25:3 (1984).

     Vicki Ruiz, "A Promise Fulfilled: Mexican Cannery Workers in Southern California," Pacific Historian 30:2 (1986).

     Cletus Daniel, "Cesar Chavez and the Unionization of California Farmworkers," from Cornford, Working People of California.

October 30        URBAN LABOR IN THE WEST

      John Enyeart, "'The Exercise of the Intelligent Ballot': Rocky Mountain Workers, Urban Politics, and Shorter Hours, 1886-1911," Labor 1:3 (2004).

      Thomas Clark, "Labor and Progressivism ‘South of the Slot’: The Voting Behavior of the San Francisco Working Class, 1912-1916," California History 66:3 (1987).

      Rebecca J. Mead, "’Let the Women Get Their Wages as Men Do’: Trade Union Women and the Legislated Minimum Wage in California," Pacific Historical Review 67:3 (1998).

      Dana Frank, "Race Relations and the Seattle Labor Movement, 1915-1929," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 86:1 (1994-95).

      Michael Munk, "Portland’s ‘Silk Stocking Mob’: The Citizens Emergency League in the 1934 Maritime Strike," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 91:3 (2000).

      Dorothy Sue Cobble, "Dishing It Out: Waitresses and the Making of Their Unions in San Francisco, 1900-1941," from Cornford, Working People of California.






December 11         PRESENTATION OF PAPERS


Tuesday, December 18 at NOON in SCI 222 –     ALL PAPERS DUE





The Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University

Leonard Library, room 460

San Francisco, CA 94132

Phone: 415-564-4010

Web: http://www.library.sfsu.edu/special/larc.html

Email address: larc@sfsu.edu

Director: Catherine Powell

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 1pm to 5pm

The Labor Archives and Research Center (LARC) is unique in California because it is the only facility in the state entirely devoted to materials generated by the labor movement. LARC's collection of papers and manuscripts, processed and unprocessed, is extensive, as the facility is the depository for archival materials generated by nearly all of the unions in the San Francisco Bay Area (with scattered materials from elsewhere in Northern California). Unions that are still active are represented, as well as many important unions that are now defunct. Some archival holdings contain papers going back to the 19th Century. Also in the collection are a large collection of arbitration case files, papers of the California Labor Federation, papers of various Bay Area Central Labor Councils, California IWW papers, papers from the DataCenter relating to Bay Area Labor, and papers from the United Church of Christ's Northern California Conference documenting their support for the United Farm Workers. Among the largest single collections in terms of cubic feet are the papers of Clark Kerr from his service on the U.S. National War Labor Board, Region 10, and the papers of Norman Leonard, who was an important Labor attorney. A summary of the collections can be downloaded from the website. LARC is a contributor to the Online Archive of California, where forty-nine of its finding aids can be located.

There is also a print collection, containing books which are available at other institutions but well-collected for browsing, and periodicals of which some are difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere. These include labor newspapers such as East Bay Labor Journal, Voice of the Cooks Local No. 44, and Western Worker, as well as a partial holdings of the Communist Party's People's World and the Northern California CIO's newspaper, Labor Herald.

There are also collections of photographs, posters, films and videos, audio cassettes and vinyl records, as well as an oral history collection.

LARC's small reading room is open to the public from 1pm to 5pm, with services also available by appointment. The full-time staff of two, helped by several part-timers, expect to spend much of their day helping patrons, who in a typical week will include everyone from High School students to scholars working on major projects. The staff offers services to remote users via email and telephone.

LARC is expanding its archival holdings to the extent that space allows, taking in papers within its scope as the primary depository for union records in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

6120 South Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90044

Phone: 323-759-6063

Fax: 323-759-2252

Web: http://www.socallib.org/

Email address: archives@socallib.org

Director: Sarah Cooper

Hours: Tue.-Sat., 10am-4pm (closed Sun./Mon.)

The Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research (SCL) is a unique library and archive containing materials on progressive social movements and labor unions in California, especially Southern California and the Los Angeles area in particular.

The origins of SCL are part of Los Angeles history in themselves. The library was founded by Emil Freed, an activist in the Labor Movement in Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th Century. He was involved with the organization of the CIO, the Unemployed Councils of the 1930's, the Hollywood Studio strikes of the 1940's, and the Civil Rights Congress of the late 1940's and early 1950's. Freed built his collection with the aim of preserving the history of Labor and the Left in Southern California, as many key activists in his circle felt the need to abandon their personal libraries and papers due to the repression of the McCarthy era. Therefore the library, which Freed opened in 1963, contains unique materials documenting this history.

SCL's holdings include an un-cataloged collection of about 25,000 books, divided into subject areas for browsing; a collection of about 20,000 periodical titles, some quite rare (e.g. the California Eagle, the oldest African American newspaper in California, going back to the 19th Century); a good collection of pamphlets, many unique; a collection of videos, including a large number made by Ralph Cole documenting local events (lectures, demonstrations, etc.); a film collection; and an archival collection managed by a professional archivist.

The Southern California Library's labor collection includes videos, books, manuscript collections, ephemera, and the Julius Mel Reich Archives. The Julius Mel Reich Labor Archives contain records in the form of pamphlets, leaflets, correspondence, contracts, constitutions, and other forms of print material from local and international unions; over 150 unions are represented.

The labor manuscript collections include the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) Project Papers, 1914-1993; International Typographical Union Records, 1903-1970s; Los Angeles J.P. Stevens Boycott Committee Records, 1975-1980; the Farm Worker Organizing Collections, 1948-1996; and the Harry Bridges Papers, 1938-1955 concerning his deportation cases.

Using their archives SCL has produced their own Labor History Map of Los Angeles, entitled "We Built This City;" "Picking Up the Torch", a video telling the story of immigrant labor in Los Angeles; and a book, The ILGWU in Los Angeles, 1907-1988, which was used as a source in the California Labor History Map project of which this report is an outgrowth.

Seventy-one finding aids to the archival holdings of SCL (relating to Labor as well as Civil Rights and Social Justice Movements in Los Angeles) can be found in the Online Archive of California, to which the library is a contributor. The archives future development is defined as providing further documentation on progressive, grassroots, social and political movements in Los Angeles County. Additionally, SCL is engaged in an ambitious schedule of public programs covering the community history of South Los Angeles and developing materials and educational workshops for secondary school teachers and students that use the Library's resources.

A staff of eight (full and part time) offers reference services, community and educational programs, photocopying, and digitization. The Library also publishes a regular newsletter, Heritage. The reading room is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Staff members respond to inquiries by phone or email.

Urban Archives Center, CSU Northridge

Oviatt Library

CSU Northridge

18111 Nordhoff St.

Northridge CA 91330-8326

Phone: (818) 677-4199

Web: http://www.csun.edu/~spcoll/urban_archives/hpuac.html

Email address: rmarshall@csun.edu

Director: Robert Marshall

Hours: 9am-5pm, Mon.-Fri.

The Urban Archives Center at CSU Northridge is the archival depository for papers generated by unions and labor leaders in Los Angeles (and in rare instances other areas). The collection also includes papers of numerous political and service organizations that have shaped the development of Los Angeles. The archives are extensive, but the finding aids are not presently available on the CSUN website or at the Online Archive of California. The finding aids for most of the collections, and an overall guide to the collections, may be obtained by email from Robert Marshall, director of the Center. Highlights of the archives in the area of Labor include the papers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers, Local 13; United Teachers of Los Angeles; the Motion Picture Cartoonists Guild; and the Lockheed Advanced Development Company's War Labor Board papers from 1942-1951. The Center also holds a collection of twenty-one Southern California Labor newspapers, published from 1906 to 1994.

The Urban Archives Center is staffed by archivist Robert Marshall and a handful of student assistants during busines hours. Services are geared toward the needs of college students and serious researchers. No appointment is necessary, but making one allows preparations to be made for your visit.

North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society

North Baker Research Library

California Historical Society

678 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94501

Phone: 415 357-1848 x20

Web: http://californiahistoricalsociety.org/collections/northbaker_research.html

Email address: reference@calhist.org

Director: Mary Morganti

Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 12pm to 4:30pm

The North Baker Research Library of the California Historical Society includes "over 35,000 volumes of books and pamphlets, more than 4,000 manuscript collections, and some 500,000 photographs documenting California's social, cultural, economic, and political history and development, along with a large collection of maps, ephemera, posters, broadsides, periodicals, and newspapers relating to the history of California and the West from the early explorations to the present time." The scope is the history of California, but the collection is strongest in the history of the San Francisco and the Bay Area.

There is much material relating to California's Labor History in the collection. The card catalog for the manuscript collection includes references to materials under the headings, "Trade Unions," "Labor & Laboring Classes," "Migrant Labor," "Slavery," "Strikes & Lockouts," "Trade-Unions," and "Industrial Relations." Included here are many oral histories of individuals active in the labor movement, with an emphasis on Bay Area women. These oral histories history and interviews and transcripts include such people as Betty Baget de Losada of the Strike Committee of ILWU in the 1940's; Sam Kagel of ILWU; Sonia Baltrun Kaross of the United Textile Workers Union and a Communist Party member and CIO Industrial Union Council official; Visolet Balcomb Orr of the Laundry Workers' Union and the CP; Katherine Dell Rodin of the CP; Marion Brown Sills, founder of the Department Store Employees Local 1100 of the Retail Clerks' Union; Anne Draper of "Union WAGE," a women's labor organzation she helped found in the late '60's and early '70's; and Anne Lipow, another co-founder of Union WAGE.

Archival holdings include records of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE), 1937-1980; , and diaries and oral histories of people active in HERE, ; papers of women active in the Communist Party; and records pertaining to the San Francisco Newspaper Strike of 1968. Information relating to labor unions may also be found in the papers of San Francisco Mayor, Roger D. Lapham, 1944-1948, and among the records of the P.P.I.E., which contains labor contracts and other documents related to musicians, artists, and laborers for the Exposition. Unprocessed collections include records pertaining to the Union Iron Works. The diaries (2 v.) of Burnette G. Hakell chronicle his participation in labor organizations, particularly the International Workingmen's Association, 1885-1886.

The photography collection is subject classified and very accessible, and includes sections files on Labor (general), agricultural labor, labor unions, strikes, and Tom Mooney (under San Francisco and General Subjects). The ephemera collection also has Labor-related materials, and these are accessible through the card and online catalogs and other finding aids various guides to the collections. These ephemera include broadsides from the S.F. Typographical Union, the Merchants' Association of San Francisco (1898), the Culinary Workers, the California CP, and company publications, as well as certificates from Labor fraternal organizations, and scrapbooks.

An increasing portion of the collection is partially accessible offsite. MELVYL, the online catalog for the University of California system, contains the catalog records for the non-unique items in the collection. The card catalog in the library's reading room contains references and indexes to much of the collection. While it is not being added to, it should not be overlooked as an important tool for access to the library's holdings. The Library's archival holdings are partially listed in the Online Archive of California.

The North Baker Research Library has a sizeable professional staff who devote much of their time to assisting people doing research of all types. Researchers planning a visit to the facility will find helpful, detailed information on the website about how to make the best use of the collection and about the policies of the library. Research help is available on a drop-in basis rather than by appointment, but an email to the reference staff in advance of your visit can make your use of the library more efficient.

Holt Labor Library

Holt Labor Library

30 Fell Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: 415-241-1370

Web: http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org

Email address: holtlabor@holtlaborlibrary.org

Director: Shannon Sheppard

Hours: Mon. through Fri., 10am to 4pm

The Holt Labor Library is a small facility presently housed in the New College of California's main building in downtown San Francisco. It was founded in 1992 by Rod Holt of Apple Computer, Guy Benjamin of Athletes for Peace, and Martin Hamilton, President of the New College, as a place to preserve materials documenting the radical aspect of labor history that could be forgotten by other institutions. Most of the collection is in fact available at many libraries, but there are a substantial number of unique items. These include a large collection of pamphlets and flyers organized by subject; historical periodicals; posters and photographs; original silk screns from Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris 1968; some union publications and records (depending on what has been donated over the years); a collection of buttons; and a good collection of video and audio tapes, which include oral histories, radio programs, and recordings of meetings and public presentations.

One example of the usefulness of this collection would be its documentation of the events surrounding the assassination of Dow Wilson of Painters Local #4, a radical political leader, in April 1966. This event was the basis for the 1970 novel by John Van der Zee, Blood Brotherhood, but documentation would be difficult to find outside of this facility and the publication Bay Area Painters News from the time.

The strength of the cataloged collection of the Holt Labor Library is American Trotskyism, though materials related to the Communist Party and the Anarchist movement are also represented.

There is an online catalog that is accessible via the website, but the more unique matials tend not to be included there. Someone doing original research would be advised to telephone the librarian, Shannon Sheppard, first, to see if the library has any materials which would be of use (as it is a small collection) and then to make an appointment to do some research with her assistance. (It is fine to drop in for a visit, but a researcher should call ahead so that the librarian can be prepared to offer the best help.)


Major libraries in the state

California's major research libraries have large archives that contain holdings related to labor history and the labor movement. In most cases, these holdings are indexed by named individuals or named organizations, but not necessarily by subject headings relating to labor.

The best tool to use as a guide to these collections is the Online Archive of California, which provides information about the archival holdings of these institutions in a searchable database with complete finding aids. The URL of the Online Archive of California is http://www.oac.cdlib.org/. It is possible to access the finding aids by searching the database or by going directly to a list of finding aids belonging to a particular participating institution. Large institutions with holdings relevant to Labor History are listed below with contact information. It is rare for these institutions to have a specialist in Labor History on staff; contact information for Special Collections or History librarians are usually given.

California History Room

California State Library, Room 200

900 N. Street

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-654-0176

Email to: cslcal@library.ca.gov

Hours: 9:30am to 4pm, Mon. - Fri.

Highlights: Photographic collections documenting the Farmworker movement and

California labor history generally.


Research Room, California State Archives

1020 "O" Street

Sacramento, CA 95814

Reference Desk: (916) 653-2246

General Information: (916) 653-7715

FAX: (916) 653-7363

E-Mail: ArchivesWeb@ss.ca.gov

Web: http://www.ss.ca.gov/archives/

Hours: 9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday, and the first Saturday of each Month, 10:00am to 4:00pm.


Materials related to legislative history and government departments.


The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

(510) 642-6481 Reference desk

(510) 642-7589 Fax

Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu

Web: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/

Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday and Saturday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm while classes are in session. Reduced hours when classes are not in session.


Stanford University

Department of Special Collections and University Archives

Green Library, Field Room (Bing Wing Rm. 200)

557 Escondido Mall

Stanford, CA 95305-6604

Phone: (650) 725-1022 ofc

Fax: (650) 723-8690 fax

Email contact: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/spc/ask.html (electronic form)

Website: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/spc/

Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm, and by appointment.

Highlights in labor history holdings:

Aptheker (Herbert) Papers, 1842-1999 (M1032)

Ross (Fred) Papers (M0812)

Salandini (Victor) Papers, 1952-1989 (M0686)

Steiner (Stan) Papers, ca. 1940-1987 (M0700)

Vizzard (James L.) Papers, 1942-1983 (M0324)


Hoover Institution Library and Archives

Hoover Institution

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305-6010

Tel (650) 723-2058 - Library

Tel (650) 723-3563 - Archives

Email library reference (Linda Wheeler): mkimball@sulmail.stanford.edu

Email archival reference (Carol Leadenham): leadenham@hoover.stanford.edu

Website: http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/hila/


Library: Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed for holidays)

Archives: Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (closed for holidays)

Highlights: Company records


Humboldt Room

Humboldt State University Library - Special Collections

One Harpst Street

Arcata, California 95521-8299

Special collections librarian: Joan Berman

Phone: (707) 826-4939

Fax: (707) 826-3440

Email: jrb2@axe.humboldt.edu

Website: http://library.humboldt.edu/infoservices/humco.html

Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10am-5pm; Mon. 6pm-9pm; Sun. 1pm-5pm

Summer: Mon. - Fri. 10am-Noon and 1pm-3pm

Highlights: Redwood District Council of Lumber and Sawmill Workers Collection, ca. 1940-1985


Department of Special Collections

Shields Library

University of California, Davis

Davis, CA 95616-5292

Phone: (530) 752-1621

Fax (530) 752-3148

Email John Skarstad: jlskarstad@ucdavis.edu

Website: http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu/specol/

Hours: 10am to 4pm, Mon. - Fri. Prior contact is advised.


Hollywood film strike collection

Radical social movements ephemera collection


Department of Special Collections

Donald C. Davidson Library

University of California

Santa Barbara, CA 93106

Phone (805) 893-3062

Fax (805) 893-5749

Email: special@library.ucsb.edu

Website: http://www.library.ucsb.edu/speccoll/special.html

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9AM-8PM. Fri., 9AM-5PM. Sat., 1PM-5PM. Sun., closed.

Hours reduced between sessions: contact the library for details.

Highlights: Papers of director and playwright Luis Valdez, and archives of El Teatro Campesino, formed to support the UFW in the 1960's.


Additional resources

ILWU Library

The International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU) is one union which has kept its own papers in its own library. There may be other unions doing this which have not been documented. For ILWU history, the ILWU library should not be neglected.

ILWU Library

1188 Franklin Street, Fourth Floor

San Francisco, CA 94109

Phone: (415) 775-0533 or (415) 492-7242

Fax (415) 775-1302


Eugene Vrana, Associate Director of Education and Librarian

Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University

The archives of the United Farm Workers are presently not owned by a library or archive based in California. Along with many other union papers from around the country, they are owned by the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit, which has received substantial funding for collection development over the years from the United Auto Workers. A researcher might want to contact this library if papers relevent to her work are held there. The finding aids for the collections are not in the Online Archive of California, but are available on the library's website. The reference librarian, Jim LeFevre, should offer help to researchers.

Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs

Walter P. Reuther Library

Wayne State University

5401 Cass Avenue, Detroit MI 48202

Phone: 313-577-4024

Fax 313-577-4300

Email contact: William.LeFevre@wayne.edu

Web page for the Union Archives:


Web page for out of town visitors:


Hours: Mon.- Tues. 11:00 am - 6:45 pm; Wed.- Fri. 9:00 am - 4:45pm