Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Scope and Content Note
Title: Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection
Date (inclusive): circa 1960-2003
Date (bulk): 1999-2002
Collection number: MS 098
Echavarria, Manuel, 1940-
Valle, Victor M., 1950-
7 boxes, (8.58 linear feet)
Special Collections, Robert E. Kennedy Library
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, California 93407
Abstract: The Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection contains materials relating to migrant farm workers on the Central Coast
of California, including oral histories, reports, correspondence, strike ephemera, and secondary sources. Photographs taken
by Manuel Echavarria documenting the United Farm Worker movement and used in the exhibit "
iViva la Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast" are included in the collection.
Gifts in 1999 and 2010.
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open to qualified researchers by appointment only. For more information on access policies and to obtain a copy
of the Researcher Registration form, please visit the Special Collections Access page.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
In order to reproduce, publish, broadcast, exhibit, and/or quote from this material, researchers must submit a written request
and obtain formal permission from Special Collections, Cal Poly, as the owner of the physical collection.
Photocopying of material is permitted at staff discretion and provided on a fee basis. Photocopies are not to be used for
any purpose other than for private study, scholarship, or research. Special Collections staff reserves the right to limit
photocopying and deny access or reproduction in cases when, in the opinion of staff, the original materials would be harmed.
[Identification of Item]. Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo.
UFW: United Farmworkers of America
CFA: California Faculty Association
The California farm labor movement started in the early 1960s with the unionization of the migrant farm workers. In 1962 César
Chávez and Dolores Huerta founded a union for the farm workers of the Central Valley of California, the National Farm Workers
Association. This organization joined the Filipino American Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) in 1966 to create
the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). The farm labor movement in the San Joaquin Valley, known as "La Causa" ("The Cause"),
grew due to dissatisfaction with unfair pay, unsafe living conditions, and lack of pensions of Valley farm workers. With the
growing support of the public César Chávez called for a grape boycott in 1966 and started the 5-year Delano grape strike.
In 1975 the California legislature passed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act giving farm workers the "right of collective
The farmlands of the Santa Maria Valley, Oceano and Guadalupe switched from vegetable farms into over 5,000 acres of strawberry
fields by the 1980s. Migrant farmer workers, including Mixtec Indians from Oaxaca, Mexico, and laborers from Michoacán, Mexico,
and from the Philippines, migrated to work the seasonal strawberry crops with the hopes of finding work in other fields when
the season ended. The strawberry is considered "la fruta del diablo" ("the fruit of the devil") to migrant workers because
strawberry picking is the "lowest paid, most difficult, and least desirable farm work in California."
The photographer Manuel Echavarria was born in 1940 in Lorraine, Texas. His father was a former military cadet originally
from Michoacán, Mexico and his mother was from Texas. Echavarria was three years old when his mother died, and when he was
six the family moved to Guadalupe, California to find work in the fields. They worked in the fields of Oceano and Guadalupe
until Echavarria was almost fifteen, when he dropped out of school. In 1969 Echavarria organized for the United Farm Workers
of America and in 1999 Echavarria served as a board member of Federacion Unida En La Reserma ze Servicious y Abogacia (FUERZA),
advocating for better treatment of strawberry pickers.
In the 1960s, over the span of ten years, Echavarria took photographs of the Santa Maria Valley farm workers laboring in the
conditions that would drive them to join the United Farm Workers (United Farm Workers of America). Although he was an untrained
photographer the photographs brilliantly illustrate the struggle for farm worker rights, and depict United Farm Workers of
America president César Chávez, United Farm Workers of America supporters, picketers, and the local farm workers and their
families. The film for these photographs was not developed until Victor Valle's preservation efforts in 1999. Valle said
iViva la Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast is the first photographic history of Central Coast Valley farm workers to "commemorate and give meaning to their collective
Victor M. Valle
Victor M. Valle, Professor of Ethnic Studies at California Polytechnic State University, has written several books including
Recipe of Memory: Five Generations of Mexican Cuisine, Latino Metropolis, and most recently
City of Industry: Genealogies of Power in Southern California. Valle won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for an "in-depth examination of southern California's growing Latino community by a team
of editors and reporters" from the Los Angeles Times. Valle interviewed Manuel Echavarria and later collaborated with co-curators
Catherine Trujillo of Special Collections, Kennedy Library at Cal Poly and Pedro I. Arroyo to create a traveling exhibit of
Echavarria's Santa Maria farm worker photographs entitled
iViva La Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast. Valle also spearheaded the project to bring the preservation prints to Cal Poly.
Columbia University. "Winners and Finalists, 1984."
The Pulitzer Prizes. Web. 5 April 2010 http://www.pulitzer.org/.
Drake, Susan Samuels.
Fields of Courage: Remembering César Chávez & the People Whose Labor Feeds Us. Santa Cruz, Calif.: Many Names Press, 1999.
The Fight in the Fields: César Chávez and the Farmworkers Movement. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997.
Beyond the Fields: César Chávez, the United Farm Workers of America, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
Trujillo, Catherine J. and Pedro I. Arroyo. "
iViva La Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast." San Luis Obispo: California Polytechnic State University, 1999.
Scope and Content Note
Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection (MS 098) contains strike ephemera, secondary sources, reports, and oral histories
chronicling the farm labor movement on the Central Coast of California, from 1960 to 2003. Strike ephemera contains United
Farm Workers of America flyers from the early 1970s and a strike song on CD with lyrics. Secondary sources include articles
about Dolores Huerta's visit to Cal Poly and controversy over the César Chávez holiday. Central Coast immigration and discrimination
school scandals are documented in pages from a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, reports and correspondence. Subject files
include oral history interviews Cal Poly Professor Victor Valle and Cal Poly Ethnic Studies students conducted in 2001 and
2002. The Subject Files compiled by Victor Valle include clippings and correspondence on the Manuel Echavarria Photograph
Archive. The collection also includes photographs by Manuel Echavarria documenting migrant worker conditions and activities
in Santa Maria, California circa 1960 to 1973, and ephemera from the traveling exhibit
iViva la Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast.
The Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection is divided into four series:
Series 1: Preservation Prints By Photographer Manuel Echavarria, circa 1960-2003
Series 2: Subject Files and Secondary Sources on the Manual Echavarria Photograph Archive, 1995-2001
Series 3. Files on the Exhibit
iViva la Causa! A Decade of Farm Labor Organizing on the Central Coast, 2000-2003
Series 4. Central Coast Farm Workers Subject Files and Secondary Sources, circa 1970-2002
The Central Coast Farm Labor Organizing Collection is housed in seven boxes, with Preservation Prints By Photographer Manuel
Echavarria and Central Coast Farm Workers Subject Files containing the most extensive portions of the collection.
Where possible, the provenance, or original organization, of the papers has been preserved. However, in order to simplify
access to the collection for researchers, some materials in specific formats and topics were reorganized and refoldered to
more accurately reflect their contents.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has generously funded the arrangement and description of this collection, along
with matching funds from California Polytechnic State University.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Chávez, César, 1927-1993.
Huerta, Dolores, 1930-
United Farm Workers.
Agricultural laborers--Labor unions--California.
Labor leaders--United States--History.
Strikes and lockouts--Vineyard laborers--California.
Migrant agricultural laborers--California.
National Farm Workers Association--Archives.
Genres and Forms of Material
Materials Cataloged Separately:
Oral history interviews produced by documentarian John Murillo have been cataloged with separate MARC records.
Special Collections, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo: Guadalupe Speaks, (MS 120)
Labor Archives & Research Center, SFSU: United Farm Workers Grape Boycott Papers, 1952-1982
Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno: Guide to the San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection, 1947-1974
Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine: Guide to the United Farm Workers Information Fair Collection (MS-R015)