SCOPE AND CONTENT
Title: James L. Vizzard Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1942-1983
Collection number: Special Collections M0324
Creator: Vizzard, James L.
16.5 linear ft.
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain
permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Gift of Father James L. Vizzard, November 4, 1980
[Identification of item] James L. Vizzard Papers, M0324, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford,
Correspondence, reports, legislative testimony, speeches, articles, minutes, agendas, newsclippings, oral history tape and
transcript, and photographs, documenting Vizzard's career as a lobbyist and worker on behalf of rural poor, migrants and braceros.
Father James L. Vizzard was born in San Francisco on February 17, 1916, to James L. and Mary Flaherty Vizzard. He attended
Star of the Sea Grammar School and St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco. After graduating from high school, Vizzard joined
the Society of Jesus in Los Gatos, California, on August 14, 1933. He received a B.A. (1939) and M.A. (1940) in philosophy
from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. In the early 1940s, while continuing his studies for the priesthood at Alma
College in Los Gatos, Vizzard taught English and Latin at he University of Santa Clara and at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.
He was ordained on June 13, 1946, by Archbishop John J. Mitty at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. In 1947, Vizzard received
the degree Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Alma College. He taught at Santa Clara one more year before going east to pursue
doctoral studies. Vizzard's concern for the plight of migrant farm workers in Santa Clara orchards led him to study agricultural
economics. He spent three months in Europe examining farming conditions and methods. He studied at Georgetown University,
the United States Department of Agriculture Graduate School, and the University of Chicago from 1949 to 1953, but frequent
bouts of ill health, including repeated hospitalization for a severe back injury, prevented him form completing his doctoral
studies. He returned to the University of Santa Clara, teaching there from 1953 to 1955. Seeking a way to utilize his training
in agricultural economics, Vizzard accepted a post as the first Washington, D.C. legislative representative of the National
Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC). The NCRLC, a coalition of bishops, priests and lay people founded in 1942, sought
to make the public aware of the value of rural life and to provide a forum for the discussion of farm problems. The NCRLC's
educational programs, publications, lobbying and policy-making efforts were directed towards improving the spiritual and material
quality of life in predominantly rural parishes. Vizzard spent most of the years between 1955 and 1968 as the sole NCRLC representative
in Washington. From June, 1958 to June, 1960 he was based in Des Moines, Iowa, helping the NCRLC battle a financial crisis.
In recognition of his efforts in the behalf of rural people, Pope Paul VI awarded Vizzard the Benemerenti medal in 1968, when
poor health forced him to resign his position with the NCRLC. Some of the legislative highlights of Vizzard's career as NCRLC
lobbyist include the passage of the Migrant Medical Help Law in 1962, the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act in 1963,
and the repeal of Public Law 78 (the bracero bill) in 1964. Vizzard testified more than one hundred times before congressional
committees. In 1964, he co-chaired the National Conference on Poverty in the Southwest with Walter P. Reuther of the AFL-CIO
and James Patton of the National Farmers Union. In addition to his numerous organizational affiliations, Fr. Vizzard maintained
a heavy speaking schedule and published many articles. After returning to California in 1968, Vizzard took up a new challenge:
the directorship of the then-dormant Social Apostolate of the California Province of the Society of Jesus. Vizzard felt that
his fellow Jesuits had become too complacent about the social and economic ills of modern society, and he urged them to become
fighters for social justice and civil rights. During this period, her lived for a year with two other priests in a low-income
section of San Jose. He also served on the national board of directors of Project Equality, a group made up of clergy dedicated
to eliminating discrimination within their own ranks and using the purchasing power of churches and religious organizations
to support socially responsible companies. In 1972, Vizzard accepted an invitation from Cesar Chavez to become the legislative
representative of the United Farm Workers union. Chavez asked that he concentrate immediately on strengthening the 1963 Farm
Labor Contractor Registration Act, which had proved
difficult to enforce. Vizzard's intensive months of lobbying came to fruition with the signing of the Farm Labor Contractor
Registration Act Amendments of 1974. Another notable success was the Child Labor Law Amendment of 1974, which prohibited children
under twelve from working in the fields. Other major issues of concern to the UFW included the proposed extension of the National
Labor Relations Act to cover farm workers, unemployment insurance for farm workers, efforts to curb the influx of undocumented
workers into the United States, and support for the 160-acre limitation for farms receiving water at federally-subsidized
rates. In 1974, Vizzard was appointed by Secretary of Labor Peter Brennan to the Standards Advisory Committee on Agriculture,
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fr. Vizzard resigned his post with the UFW in 1977 and retired to Santa Clara,
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The James L. Vizzard Papers document the activities of a Jesuit priest who spent more than thirty years lobbying, writing
and speaking on behalf of migrant laborers, braceros and the rural poor in the United States. As the Washington representative
for the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (and later for the United Farm Workers), Vizzard was instrumental in influencing
legislation aimed at improving the lot of the largely unorganized agricultural labor force. The collection, which spans 16.5
linear feet, is comprised of correspondence, reports, newsletters, articles, minutes, agendas, legislative testimony, press
releases, newsclippings, an oral history tape, and photographs. The records date from 1942 to 1983, the bulk having been generated
between 1955 and 1977. The collection is arranged into eight series, the contents and arrangement of which are described below.