Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid to Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California circa 1906-1911
BANC PIC 1905.02634-.02731--PIC  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (195.27 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California
    Date (inclusive): circa 1906-1911
    Collection Number: BANC PIC 1905.02634-.02731--PIC
    Collector: Cross, Ira B. (Ira Brown), b. 1880
    Physical Description: 101 photographic prints, 9 x 14 cm. or smaller. 100 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    Abstract: Collection shows laborers from various ethnic groups (Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, "Hindu") working in the following locations: Sacramento (including Japantown), San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles, Gilroy, and Merced. Photos show laborers in the fields, but also focus on their businesses, ranches, living conditions (including interiors of houses), street scenes, and children.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is available for use.

    Publication Rights

    Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted to The Bancroft Library. See:http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California, circa 1906-1911, BANC PIC 1905.02634-.02731--PIC, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Agricultural laborers--California--Photographs
    East Indians--California--Employment--Photographs
    Alien labor--California--Photographs

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California collection was received as a gift from Ira B. Cross.


    Finding aid and digital representations of archival material funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


    Ira Brown Cross, a descendant of William Bradford and John and Priscilla Alden of the Plymouth Colony, was born December 1, 1880 in Decatur, Illinois. He received his A.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, and while a student there became a member of the Socialist Party. In 1904 he served as the Assistant Secretary of the National Convention of the Socialist Party in Chicago. Cross received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1909. He remained at Stanford as a professor until 1914, when--despite his radical economic views--he was asked by University of California president Benjamin Ide Wheeler to accept a position in the Department of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley. Cross accepted and would remain at the University of California until his retirement in 1951. During his tenure at Berkeley he significantly expanded the scope of the Department of Economics and gained a reputation as a challenging, iconoclastic instructor and impassioned lecturer who was able to enliven student interest in a field often referred to as the "dismal science." An estimated 60,000 students enrolled in his classes during his career. Cross was Chair of the Department of Economics in the 1919-1920 and 1923-1924 school years. In 1951 Cross was awarded the LL.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and in 1958 was awarded the same degree from the University of California. In 1964 he was honored with the dedication of the Ira B. Cross Room in Barrows Hall on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to his career in academia, Cross was also active in arbitration and strike-breaking efforts, and created one of the nation's first employment management training courses. He also served as a member of the American Institute of Banking from 1935 to 1960, for whom he taught and contributed important educational texts. Cross also helped to form the Berkeley Police School, an internationally recognized crime prevention program. After his retirement, Cross pursued his interest in the cultivation of chrysanthemums, becoming such an authority on the subject that he served as associate editor of the Bulletin of the National Chrysanthemum Society. Ira B. Cross died March 24, 1977.
    In addition to publishing numerous articles and reviews, Cross also wrote several volumes on economics and banking, among them the following: Cooperative Stores in the United States (1906); Essentials of Socialism (1911); Collective Bargaining in San Francisco (1917); Domestic and Foreign Exchange (1923); History of Banking in California (1927); Economics (1931); Money and Banking (1931); and A History of the Labor Movement of California (1935).
    (Sources: Cross, Ira B. (interviewee), Portrait of an Economics Professor: Oral History Transcript, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California, 1967; In Memoriam, Academic Senate, University of California, Berkeley, California, 1978 edition.)

    Scope and Content

    The Photographs of Agricultural Laborers in California collection contains 101 photographic prints taken circa 1906-1911. The collection documents various ethnic groups, many of them agricultural workers, present in California in the early twentieth century. Especially featured in the collection are Japanese farm laborers and scenes of urban Chinese communities. Also pictured are Mexican, Italian and East Indian (referred to in the captions as "Hindu") workers and communities. Agricultural locations pictured in the collection include the Stockton area, Palo Alto, Woodland, Visalia, Ryde, and the San Joaquin River area. Many prints show the various types of housing used by the farm laborers, which included large ranch houses, communal bunk houses, dilapidated shacks, and open-air tents and beds. Also pictured are laborers at work or during travel.
    The collection also includes scenes of many urban communities, including the Chinatown districts of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno, Gilroy, San Jose, and Merced, as well as Japanese commercial districts in Fresno, San Francisco and San Jose. Also pictured are an Italian residential area of San Francisco, and a Mexican employment office in Fresno.
    Many of the photographs in the collection may have originated from a 1908 U.S. Immigration Commission study conducted by Stanford University professor Harry A. Millis with the assistance of Cross, which sought to gather information on immigrant farm labor problems of the San Joaquin Valley.
    Individuals identified in the collection include Harry A. Millis, rancher George Shima, and anarchist William C. Owen.
    Cross is likely to have been the photographer of many of the prints, but this has not been ascertained.
    The original captions accompanying the photographs are reproduced in the container listing. They include words like "Jap" and "Hindu" that were commonplace at the time, but may now have a derogatory meaning.