This is a small collection relating to the career of social activist Alice Greenfield McGrath. The materials document her
work as executive secretary with The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee, which successfully worked to free 17 young Mexican-Americans
who were wrongfully convicted of murder in a racially biased case in Los Angeles, 1942-1944. There are photographs relating
to the case and the play "Zoot Suit" based on it. Also included is her FBI file, 1949-1968. McGrath's activism continued in
the 1980s with her work for justice in Nicaragua.
Alice Greenfield McGrath was born on April 5, 1917 in Calgary, Canada, daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. She grew up
in Los Angeles, California, and during the 1930s became interested in social activism. From 1942 to 1944 she was the executive
secretary for the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee. In this capacity she published a newsletter and corresponded with the men
who had been convicted in this case updating them on the activities of the committee working for their release. Another cause
she campaigned against was the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. She became the subject of investigation
by the FBI from 1949 to 1968. After a brief marriage to poet Thomas McGrath, she married martial arts instructor Bruce Tegner
and for the next 25 years wrote several books on and taught self-defense for women. She worked with Luis Valdez on his play
"Zoot Suit" based on the Sleepy Lagoon Case which, produced by the Center Theatre Group, premiered at the Los Angeles Mark
Taper Forum in 1978. Since 1984 she has been active on behalf of Nicaragua mainly in coordinating visits of Americans to examine
and report on the country's social and political situation. She has also worked since the 1980s on accessible legal services
for all in Ventura, California, her home for the last several decades.
1 legal box, 1 letter box,
2/3 linear foot
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copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written
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