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Finding aid to the Violet Orr oral history, 1919-1976 (bulk 1976), MS 3516
MS 3516  
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Transcript and sound recording of Lucille Kendall's 1976 interviews with Violet Orr, including a brief interview with Violet's husband Paul Orr; an interview history; and one folder of Orr family papers and photographs, dated from 1919 to 1976. The interviews document Violet Orr's childhood and marriage; her trip with Paul Orr to the Soviet Union in the 1920s; her activities as a Communist Party organizer in the 1930s and '40s in California, including her involvement in the San Francisco laundry workers' union and work for the radical newspaper, the People's World; and the Orrs' experiences during the post-war Red Scare.
Communist and peace activist Violet Orr was born in San Francisco in 1904. She spent her childhood in San Francisco, Iowa, Oregon, and finally Palo Alto, graduating from Stanford University. She married Paul Orr in 1926, and together they traveled to the Soviet Union, living there for two years, from 1928 to 1930. Active in the Friends of the Soviet Union, the Orrs joined the Communist Party in 1932. As a Communist Party activist, Violet Orr filled many positions in Northern and Southern California: as an organizational secretary in Oakland in the early 1930s; a candidate for the California State Assembly from Richmond (1934); a laundry worker and labor organizer in San Francisco (1935-1937); and an advertising and circulation manager of the People's World in San Francisco and Los Angeles (1937-1946). Throughout this period, she played an energetic role in California's radical print culture, not only as a manager of the People's World, but also as a founder of the San Francisco laundry workers' newspaper, the Shake Out; a contributor to the Western Worker; and a leafleteer among Richmond refinery workers. During the 1934 General Strike, the Orrs' Point Richmond home was ransacked by vigilantes.
Transcript: 2 folders (0.1 linear feet); Tapes: 15 audiocassettes
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