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Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Related Materials
  • Processing Information
  • Separated Materials

  • Title: Douglass Adair United Farm Workers Collection
    Creator: Adair, Douglas, III
    Identifier/Call Number: 0011
    Contributing Institution: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Special Collections and Archives
    Language of Material: English, Spanish, and Arabic.
    Physical Description: 13.34 Linear Feet (17 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1936, 1956-2015
    Date (bulk): 1965-1995
    Abstract: Douglass Adair joined the United Farm Workers union in 1965 at the age of 22. He helped organize the nationwide grape boycott and served as editor then publisher of the union's newspaper El Malcriado from 1965 to 1970. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Adair worked in the fields at various California ranches and as a member of the union's legal department. The collection includes correspondence, notes, notebooks, and records documenting Adair's involvement with the union and his employment as a farm worker; clippings and short publications on the union and related topics; and realia, ephemera, and photographs related to the farm workers' rights movement.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Douglass Adair United Farm Workers Collection, Collection no. 0011, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Douglass Adair donated the materials to Cal Poly Pomona in installments between 2010 and 2011. He donated additional materials for the collection in 2017.

    Biographical / Historical

    Douglass Graybill Adair III was born December 10, 1942 in Princeton, New Jersey. His father, Douglass Greybill Adair Jr. was a professor of American history specializing in the revolution and early Jeffersonian period. His mother, Virginia Hamilton Adair, was a noted poet and Professor of English at Cal Poly Pomona. The Adairs moved to California in the 1950s and Douglass graduated from Claremont High School in 1960. He went on to study history at Pomona College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1964.
    Adair was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to continue his studies in history at UC Berkeley. He studied Latin American history for a year and maintained his landlady's garden in exchange for free rent. He enjoyed gardening so much that he considered dropping out of school to start a landscaping business. During this period, Adair was also developing an interest in farm labor issues, specifically the recently ended Bracero Program. He joined the Student Committee for Agricultural Labor and participated in a pilot project to send students to work in the fields of central California farms. Adair spent the summer of 1965 picking peaches, plums, and nectarines for the Red Banks Fruit Company in Visalia and lived at the Linell Farm Labor camp in nearby Farmersville.
    It was at the camp that Adair first met Gil Padilla of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). Padilla had come to the camp to organize a rent strike and Adair credits Padilla with "organizing him" and introducing him to the farm workers movement. Soon after meeting Padilla, Adair assisted workers at the labor camp by translating for them and the police during a "wildcat" (unauthorized by the union) strike protesting lowered wages at Exiter Dehydrator. Over the course of the strike, Adair met Cesar Chavez, then leader of the NFWA, and Larry Itliong, leader of the AFL-CIO union Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). The NFWA and AWOC would merge in August 1966 to form the United Farm Workers (UFW).
    Adair was still considering returning to Berkeley at the end of the summer of 1965, when Bill Esher asked him to come to Delano to assist with the English language version of the UFW's newspaper El Malcriado. Cesar Chavez had launched the publication in 1964 and hired Esher in the spring of 1965 to help with production and distribution. Chavez and Esher decided to publish an English version for young Chicanos who did not read Spanish, as well as African Americans and Filipinos interested in the union. Adair arrived in Delano just after the Grape Strike began in September of 1965. The strike would continue for over five years and brought national attention to the farm workers movement.
    The UFW immediately enlisted Adair to produce leaflets and copies of El Malcriado advertising the strike. He went on to help organize the strike and by 1966 had become the editor of El Malcriado. The following year, Adair traveled to Texas to assist the union with a melon strike. When he returned to California, he transferred editorial duties for El Malcriado to David Fishlow and served as publisher instead. The union sent Adair out of state again in 1970, this time to Philadelphia to assist with the ongoing grape boycott. He worked in Philadelphia for a year organizing people to pressure grocery chains to carry union grapes. Next, he was sent to St. Louis for eight months to assist with a lettuce boycott.
    At this point, Adair wanted to get back to working in the fields. He returned to Delano in December of 1971 and began working at Tenneco-Ducor ranch pruning grapes with his friend Rudy Reyes. Adair worked at Tenneco-Ducor until 1973, when the ranch's contract with the UFW expired and it signed with the Teamsters union instead. That same year, Adair was falsely convicted of damaging a car while picketing at a neighboring ranch. He was jailed for 37 days and placed on probation for two years, the terms of which prohibited him from having any contact with the union.
    Adair decided to move back to Claremont for the duration of his probation; both to avoid violating the terms and to help his mother take care of his elderly grandfather. While back home, Adair earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Claremont Graduate School. He felt that one of the UFW's weaknesses was its administrative practices and planned to use his degree to help improve them.
    After his probation ended in 1975, Adair returned to the union staff as a volunteer. He was quickly assigned to the legal department and worked there for the last half of 1975 through 1977. As a member of the legal department, Adair was in charge of the Coachella office for the election campaigns of 1977 and helped prepare manuals on legal issues for the various field offices. He met his future wife, Debra, in 1976 when she came to the Coachella union clinic as a nurse.
    By the end of 1977, Adair was once again ready to return to work in the fields. He was soon hired at David Freedman Company in the Coachella Valley tying grape vines. He joined the Ranch Committee in 1980, which represented the workers to the union leadership and informed the workers of their benefits. As secretary of the Ranch Committee, Adair was involved in contract negotiations between the union and the David Freedman Company.
    The United Farm Workers lost the contract with Freedman in 1988. Adair continued working at Freedman for another year until the company sold off most of the ranch and many workers were fired. He decided at that point to work exclusively on the five-acre date farm in Thermal, California that he had purchased in 1977. He continues to grow dates at Pato's Dream Date Garden and is a dues-paying member of the UFW.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection includes correspondence sent to and from Douglass Adair; records documenting Adair's involvement with the United Farm Workers union and his employment as a farm worker at California ranches including Tenneco-Ducor and the David Freedman Company; clippings and short publications on the union and related topics; and realia, ephemera, and photographs related to the farm workers rights movement.


    The collection is organized into the following series: Series 1. Correspondence; Series 2. Tenneco-Ducor and David Freedman Company; Series 3. United Farm Workers; Series 4. Douglass Adair; Series 5. Clippings and Publications; and Series 6. Realia, Ephemera, and Photographs.

    Related Materials

    United Farm Workers Ephemera Collection, Collection no. 0006, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
    United Farm Workers News Clippings Collection, Collection no. 0008, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

    Processing Information

    The collection was initially processed and cataloged by Special Collections staff 2012. The collection underwent further processing in 2017 by Rodney Cox and James Song to incorporate new accruals. The finding aid was revised the same year by Alexis Adkins to reflect the changes and enhance findability and access. The collection number was changed from SC2012.03 to 0011 and the collection title changed from Douglass Adair's United Farm Workers Collection to Douglass Adair United Farm Workers Collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    United Farm Workers
    Agricultural laborers--California.
    Agricultural laborers--Labor unions
    Grape Strike, Calif., 1965-1970

    Separated Materials

    Barnes, Peter. The Sharing of Land and Resources in America. Washington, DC: New Republic, 1973.
    El Malcriado. Delano, CA: Farm Workers Press.
    Fishlow, David M. Sons of Zapata: A Brief Photographic History of the Farm Workers Strike in Texas. Rio Grande City, TX: United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO.
    Galarza, Ernesto. Strangers in Our Fields. Washington, DC: 1956.
    Montoya, Daneen, ed. 1962-1982. Keene, CA: National Farm Workers Service Center, 1982.
    Zermeno, Andrew. Don Sotaco: Cartoons from the Delano Strike/Caricaturas de la Huelga de Delano. Delano, CA: Farm Worker Press.