Inventory of the John Francis "Jack" Shelley Collection, 1905-1974

Processed by Leon Sompolinsky; machine-readable finding aid created by James Lake
Labor Archives and Research Center
San Francisco State University
480 Winston Drive
San Francisco, California 94132
Phone: (415) 564-4010
Fax: (415) 564-3606
© 1999
San Francisco State University. All rights reserved.

Inventory of the John Francis "Jack" Shelley Collection, 1905-1974

Accession number: 1992/020

Labor Archives & Research Center

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California

Contact Information:

  • Labor Archives & Research Center
  • San Francisco State University
  • 480 Winston Drive
  • San Francisco, California 94132
  • Phone: (415) 564-4010
  • Fax: (415) 564-3606
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Leon Sompolinsky
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 1999 San Francisco State University. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: John Francis "Jack" Shelley Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1905-1974
Accession number: 1992/020
Creator: Shelley, John Francis
Extent: 27 cubic feet
Repository: San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center
San Francisco, California 94132
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Center's online catalog.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives & Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives & Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Francis "Jack" Shelley Collection, 1992/020, Labor Archives & Research Center, San Francisco State University.


The John F. Shelley collection was donated to the Labor Archives in March 1992 by his widow, Thelma Shelley. The material was transferred to the Archives by Lynn Bonfield and Leon Sompolinsky. Upon the donor's request photocopies were made of bound material pulled together by the Library of Congress Congressional Information Service covering Shelley's career in the United States Congress and the originals were returned. The collection was processed in late 1992 and early 1993 by Leon Sompolinsky.


Jack Shelley was born in San Francisco on September 3, 1905, the eldest of nine children in a working class, Irish Catholic family. Raised and educated in the city, Shelley made his first of many trips at sea after graduating from grammar school. Sailing and the shipping industry remained a passion of his for the rest of his life. While attending Mission High School, he regularly shipped out summers as a member of the Sailors' Union of the Pacific. He continued this practice while attending St. Ignatius College (later the University of San Francisco Law School) where he played varsity football and continued to work part time in a steamship office. The economic necessities of supporting a large family forced him to drop out of school after two years, when he had the opportunity to ship as a purser, eventually becoming a licensed officer. After various trips, he was able to locate employment at home as a bakery wagon drive during the day, allowing him to continue the study of law at night. In 1932 he received his law degree from the University of San Francisco and rather than enter the legal profession he chose to continue working with the bakery wagon drivers' union as a business agent.
While serving as an official of the Teamster Bakery Wagon Drivers and Salesmen Union, Local 484, in 1937 Shelley became the youngest President of the San Francisco Labor Council at the age of 31. He remained President of the Council until 1948 when he served for two years as Secretary-Treasurer. From 1947 to 1950 he also served as the President of the California State Federation of Labor.
Shelley's political career began in 1938 when he was elected State Senator for San Francisco for two consecutive terms. While in Sacramento, Shelley sponsored and supported welfare and labor legislation including improving care for the aged, improvements in the workmen's compensation laws, disability insurance reform, apprenticeship opportunities for youths, and the outlawing of loan sharks. Shelley also advocated returning control of the Port of San Francisco back to the city. He spearheaded appropriations for the purchase of the Lake Merced site of San Francisco State College and for the completion of the Cow Palace. In 1946, he was defeated by Goodwin Knight for Lieutenant Governor of California.
In 1949, Shelley won a special election to fill the vacancy for the Fifth District Congressional seat to the United States House of Representatives, a position he held until 1964 when he defeated Supervisor Harold Dobbs in an election for Mayor of San Francisco. From 1968 until his death in 1974, he served San Francisco as the city's lobbyist in Sacramento.
Throughout Shelley's public career, he mediated between business and labor interests, and between conservative and progressive unionism. He took great pride in settling labor-management disputes without resorting to the use of strikes. He stood for unity within the labor movement before the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress on Industrial Organizations. His career spanned the period from "new deal" to "great society" liberalism.

Scope and Content

Contents of the collection are primarily newspaper clipping scrapbooks and files maintained by Shelley's office staff and provided by a professional clipping service. Newspapers represented include the San Francisco Chronicle, Examiner and Call-Bulletin, the Sacramento Bee and as well as a number of neighborhood and ethnic publications. (A full list of publications can be found in Addendum A.) Additionally the collection contains campaign literature and ballots, photocopies of private and public bills sponsored by Shelley and Congressional Record speeches and inserts pulled together by the Library of Congress Congressional Information Service.

Series Description


Series I: Biographical

Physical Description: .5 cubic ft.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of one file of biographical summary sheets and profiles, multiple copies of California Living, April 30, 1967, cover article "Jack Shelley: The Mayor and the Man", and a file from the Eagles convention of 1967 at which Shelley was awarded that organization's "Mayor of the Year."

Series II: Scrapbooks 1938-1952 (oversize)

Scope and Content Note

This series of 10 scrapbooks covers Shelley's career as a State Senator and labor leader. While volume seven ostensibly covers publicity for the years 1943-1945, clippings include coverage of his first terms in the United States Congress through 1952.

Series III. Mayor, 1963-1968

Physical Description: 17 cubic ft. and oversize

Scope and Content Note

This series covers Shelley's campaign for Mayor and his term of office in that position. Thirteen scrapbooks and 16 boxes of subject files include clippings from the three major San Francisco dailies: The San Francisco Examiner, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Francisco Call-Bulletin. A scattering of clippings from San Francisco ethnic community newspapers are also present. One box contains the speeches delivered during his term as mayor

Series III: U.S. Congressional Representative serving the 5th District, 1950-1963

Physical Description: 3 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains Shelley's voting record, public and private bills he sponsored, speeches and committee assignments. The bulk of the series consists of photocopies of the many public and private bills sponsored by Shelley during his career as Congressional Representative to the Fifth District collated by the Library of Congress' Congressional Information Services. The original bound editions reside with the Shelley family. At the front of each of these folders a list is provided of Shelley's bills sponsored for the session.

Series IV: Audio-Visual Material

Physical Description: 1.5 cubic ft.

Series V: Posters

Scope and Content Note

Campaign poster for SF Mayor, 1963 (oversize)

Container List


Series I: Biographical


One file of biographical summary sheets and profiles, multiple copies of California Living, April 30, 1967, cover article "Jack Shelley: The Mayor and the Man", and a file from the Eagles convention of 1967 at which Shelley was awarded that organization's "Mayor of the Year."


Series II: Scrapbooks 1938-1952 (oversize)


1938 - campaign for state senator; 1939 - labor and political

Volume Vol. 1

Shelley campaign buttons


AFL Political League controlled by Vandeleur of the State Federation of Labor and Buzzell, LA Central Labor Council czar does not endorse Shelley because of his "Unity" approach toward the AFL v. CIO issue and Shelley's involvement with the CIO's Labor Non-Partisan League.


Pamphlet "Tom Mooney's message on the 1938 California Elections"


Biography of Shelley, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26/1938.


1939 State Labor Convention - Vandeleur v. Kidwell/Watchman factions


1939 & 1941 Legislative Session

Volume Vol. 2

SF State College campus appropriation.


Lake Merced District site from Haight and Buchanan Streets


WPA funds available


Bill to allow city to assume control of the Port of SF


Health insurance bill


Cow Palace appropriations bill


"Salute the Flag" bill which Shelley opposes


Anti-Loan shark bill


Shelley support of the bill to outlaw the Communist Party (1940)


J. Vernon Burke v. Shelley for head of Labor Council

Additional Note

Burke is president of Web Pressman's Union and secretary of Labor Non-Partisan League.

Thank you letters from Henry Wallace and Eleanor Roosevelt


Hot Cargo Labor Bill


4/23/41 re: Harry Bridges Deportation hearings (p. 136-7)


1941 Machinist Shipyard strike


1941 Legislative Session

Volume Vol. 3

SF Labor Council elections: Shelley v. J. Vernon Burke


City control of SF Harbor


Relief agency battles. State v. county control


Little Wagner Act Bill


Household employees. Maximum hours bill introduced by Shelley


Eight hour day, 48 hour week bill


Hot Cargo and Secondary Boycott bills -- Senate override of Olson veto


Loan shark bill


SF State College appropriation


Labor management issues around defense industries (machinists)


Cow Palace appropriations


American Union Labor Committee for Tom Rolph for Congress in opposition of re-election of Frank R. Havenner, a strong Harry Bridges defender. (Last three pages of scrapbook)


1942 Campaign for State Senate

Volume Vol. 4

Campaign material including bumper sticker and button


Shelley on Republican, Democrat, and Union Labor Party tickets


Civilian defense


Buy war bonds


1941-1942 Publicity

Volume Vol. 5

State relief agency crisis




Shelley involvement in Restaurant workers strike and Hotel workers strike (AFL v. CIO)


Eleanor Roosevelt column en route from SF to Portland

Additional Note

"I wish I could say that wherever I see magnificent trees cutdown, I could also see plantations of new trees, but I have not noticed that as yet. One important lesson we still must learn, we cannot use anything that comes from the soil and not return something to it for the use of generations to come." (Sustainable development)

Obituary of Shelley's uncle, John Casey, SF Police Captain (May 27, 1942)


Shelley as member of Gov. Olson Kitchen cabinet


Golden Gater, SF State College photo of Shelley breaking ground of new campus at Lake Merced on November 1939 (last page)


1943 Publicity

Volume Vol. 6

SF Mayors race - Roger Lapham, Angelo Rossi, George Reilly, Chester McPhee


United Labor Committee for George Reilly


SF Trolley merger


Information bulletin issued by Piledrivers Union #34, 22 Apr 1943.


Textbook banning issue


1943-1945 Publicity

Additional Note

(Delicate condition; clips coming unglued from scrapbook)
Volume Vol. 7

Food shortage results in productivity decline in shipbuilding industry in Bay Area


1949. Shelley's election to U.S. Congress. In this race, he defeats Republican Cosgrove and Democrat, Charles R. Gary.


1950. San Francisco shipbuilding industry in doldrums.


1951. Shelley on committee investigating Military/Big Business fraud conspiracies. Major company accused, Tank Arsenal


1951. San Francisco Internal Revenue Bureau scandal


1952. Shelley sub-committee investigating ship subsidies. Focus on the S.S. U.S. Bay Southern Crossing. Location: Candlestick to Oakland Airport. A solid fill Bay Crossing is advocated because, for one, it is safer in air attack


1952. Issue: importation of South Korean Laborers for the farm fields of California.


1952. Adlai Stevenson visits the Bay Area


1952. Anton Refregier's post office murals debated as subversive art. Shelley supports free speech.


1946 Primary Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

Volume Vol. 8

Robert Kenny v. Earl Warren for Governor results in Warren landslide in Primary as non-partisan and cross party candidate.


General tenor critical of CIO Political Action Committee activities


June 26-Oct 2, 1946; 1946 Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

Additional Note

(this volume, provided by Allen's clipping service monitors publications state-wide.)
Volume Vol. 9 (Book 1)

Shelley v. Goodwin Knight


Red baiting evident


James Roosevelt, Franklin's and Eleanor's son, is head of CA State Democratic Party


1946 Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

Additional Note

Continuation of volume 9.
Volume Vol. 10 (Book 2)

Political Action Committees generally and Shelley's ties to the Labor PAC specifically receive negative press publicity during the campaign as Shelley loses to Goodwin Knight.


1938-1946 Shelley as State Senator


a) Disability Bill


b) Loan Shark Bill


c) Loans to Veterans


d) Apprentice Training Act


e) Education - Shelley shepherds through State Legislature a 5 million dollar appropriation for State Teachers College relocation to Lake Merced campus from Haight and Buchannan site.


Series III. Mayor, 1963-1968. (17 cubic ft. and oversize)


1963 Publicity

Volume Vol. 11

Mostly coverage of mayoral race


September-November 1963 Publicity

Volume Vol. 12

Includes some biographical overview material of Shelley up through 1963.


1967 Publicity

Volume Vol. 13

State Senator Eugene McAteer v. Shelley


Issues include Stadium, Freeway, Mass Transit (BART), Jobs programs for the poor, the war on Hippies, Model (Demonstration) Cities Program


Bridge District scandal. Painters Local 18 accused of racism. Local 18 leader at the time of the scandal is Harry Bigarani.


Nov. 7, 1963-July 1964 (mostly SF Examiner)

Volume Vol. 14

Civil Rights hiring pact agitated for and won at Mel's Drive-In. Union demands hiring role.


Firemen stoned at Hunters Point.


Mayoral inaugural--January 8-9, 1964


Civil rights articles including auto row picketing, Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) activities


Shelley veto of birth control funds. Accused of vetoing legislation because of being Catholic; the Mayor claims his veto is based upon the necessities of fiscal responsibility.


July 13, 1964-June 1965 ( SF Examiner)

Volume Vol. 15

7/25/64. San Francisco Human Rights Ordinance signed


Typographical Union Strike mediated by Shelley


Navy departing from Hunters Point--Job loss


A young Willie Brown, prominent as attorney representing Sheraton Palace and Auto Row Sit-in demonstrators.


Johnson v. Goldberg campaign. Republican convention takes place at the Cow Palace.


June 1965-September 1965 ( SF Examiner)

Volume Vol. 16

Article analyses industrial flight. Reasons given include: inventory tax, wages, union practices, land availability


The Great Society


Racism in the SF Fire Dept.


Preservation of the Bay


UN Celebration --20th anniversary


Civil Service sex discrimination


the anti-poverty program $3.1 mil.


Build up of the VietNam War


Funds for the War on Poverty


Enactment of the SF Human Rights Commission


anti-poverty program and the EOC (Economic Opportunity Council)


Freeway building controversy with Gov. Brown


San Francisco city and county assessor, Russ Wolden, indicted on bribery counts


September 13, 1965-March 1986 ( SF Examiner and News-Call)

Volume Vol. 17

Economic Opportunity Council


South of Market Development


Bay Area Rapid Transit District


Freeway funds


Hunters Pt. Housing (p. 84)


Ronald Reagan enters politics via Television running against George Christopher, former mayor of San Francisco


Demonstration Cities Program--Urban Renewal and anti-poverty


Threat to close the Hunters Pt. Shipyard


McAteers prominence as likely Mayoral Candidate


Freeway plans disputed


Diamond Heights Renewal


SF Human Rights commission's Research Committee report of 2/25/66 presented by it's chair, Earl Raab


Nov. 7, 1963-Dec. 12, 1964 ( SF Chronicle)

Volume Vol. 18

Picketing at Mel's Drive Inn over discriminatory hiring practices including Union involvement


John Kennedy assassination


possible closure of Hunters Pt. Navy Yard.


Freeway wars


Mayoral appointments


Danger signs for the city, a report issued by Arthur D. Little


Building height limitation (16 to 1 floor area ratio)


Police brutality


Civil rights pickets at: Sheraton Palace Hotel and Cadillac Agency with Shelley mediating


Birth Control appropriation in city budget is vetoed by Shelley. The amount vetoed is later bequeathed by a wealthy donor.


Building low rent units


Study on the impact of Civil Rights movement in SF to be sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in cooperation with SF State College. Research to be lead by Louis S. Levine, Professor of Psychology. This study is to observe activities of various partisan groups and interviews with key individuals. The study is to be partially financed by the Irving Luacks Fund. SF Chronicle, 5/10/1964.


Opposition to freeway through the Golden Gate Park.


Congress on Racial Equality v. Bank of America results in a Fair Employment Practices Commission agreement.


James P. Mitchell, former Sec. of Labor for 8 years under Eisenhower is to chair the SF Human Relations Committee


Settlement of the 11 month long International Typographical Union strike


Beatle fans protest refusal of City to present Fab Four with the Key to City


Report by the Interim committee on Human Relations mentions role of Unions. SF Chronicle, 10/19/1964.


Dec. 8, 1964-Dec. 14, 1965 ( SF Chronicle)

Volume Vol. 19

Freeway wars


End of the Actors' Workshop


Joe Mazzola, as chair of the Housing Authority is accused of racism (p. 83) Mazzola eventually resigns later in the year


Bay fill issues


Arrests at topless nightclubs and eventual acquittals.


Feud develops within the anti-poverty plan


U.N. 20th anniversary celebration and session


Vietnam protest as President Johnson arrives in city


Fighting over highway construction and anti-poverty program


Dec. 17, 1965-March 9, 1966 ( SF Chronicle)

Volume Vol. 20

Hunters Point Housing


Actors Workshop


City employees, change in residence requirement


Highway v. Crystal Springs Reservoir and watershed


"Shelley's irate union 'friends'" p. 22


Freeway wars


Nov. 1963-March 1965 ( SF News-Call Bulletin)

Volume Vol. 21

Shelley's mayoral inauguration


Bay Area Rapid Transit planning


Freeway wars


Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) pickets Luckys, Cadillac Dealership, Bank of America, the Republican Convention


Birth Control in the city budget


Appointment of Terrence Francois as first Black Supervisor


Water Quality


San Francisco Bay environmental quality


March 15, 1965-Sept. 8, 1965 ( SF News-Call Bulletin)

Volume Vol. 22

Police "moonlighting" scandal


Joe Mazzola resigns from SF Housing Commission position p. 39


Anti-Poverty program


August 7, 1964-Sept. 22, 1965 ( SF News-Call Bulletin)

Additional Note

Only 13 pages. Publications include The Dispatcher, San Francisco Labor, Richmond Banner, Sun Reporter, Chinese World, Jewish Community Bulletin, and The Sunset News.
Volume Vol. 23

Appointment of Terrence Francois as first Black Supervisor


Typographical Union strike settlement


The Republican Convention in SF


Files: Mayor's newspaper clippings --1965-1967

Additional Note

Arrangement by year and then alphabetically including the following subjects:

Aging, Office of


Air Pollution








Art Commission




Bay Conservation, Study Committee


Board of Permit Appeals


Board of Supervisors


Board of Education


Bond Issues




Brundage Art Collection




Business - local


Caen, Herb


CA State (month by month)


CA Palace Legion of Honor


Celebrations and Campaigns - Local


Chamber of Commerce




Chief Administrative Officer


City Planning Commission


Civil Service Commission


Civil Rights




Community Renewal




Conventions and Tourism






DeYoung Memorial Museum




Disaster Council


District Attorney


Federal - misc.


Finance and Records






Grand Jury


Health Service Commission


Hetch Hetchy


Housing Authority


Human Rights Commission








Labor (multiple folders)


Legislative Representative




Market Street


Mayor - personal






Municipal Railway




Parking Authority


Police Commissions (multiple folders) including Political hippies/drugs/politics/Dow Wilson murder


Public Health


Rapid Transit




Redevelopment Agency






Youth Guidance



Physical Description: (four record transfer boxes each one cubic ft.)

A - District Attorney


EOC - Market Street


Misc. - Police Commission


Presidio - UN



Physical Description: (six record transfer boxes each one cubic ft.)



California - Culture


Department of Public Works - Judiciary


Labor - Police Commission


Parking - Political


Presidio - Youth Guidance



Physical Description: (five record transfer boxes each one cubic ft.)

Alcatraz - Civil Rights


Civil Service - Police Commission


Police Commission - Youth Guidance






Mayor Shelley's Speeches, 1964-1967

Physical Description: (1 cubic ft.)

Index - Mayor's Speeches


Speech file - Background Material


Copies of letters requesting speeches


Speeches "A"-"XYZ" (24 folders)


Speeches - Personal


Speeches - Inaugural Address


Series III: U.S. Congressional Representative serving the 5th District. 1950-1963


Private bills seek constituency relief measures, mostly regarding immigration matters for families of World War II veterans.


Public bills sponsored by Shelley include legislation affecting veteran and pension benefits, retiree pay, seamen's rights, water resource rights, highway construction, mass transit, wilderness protection and labor, human and civil rights.


Shelley's Voting Record: 1950-1963

Physical Description: (.5 cubic ft.)

Index 1950-1963


Voting record, session by session (7 folders)


Voting record of the 81st Congress


Shelley's voting record of the 81st Congress


Shelley's voting record of the 82d Congress


Speeches from the Congressional Record

Physical Description: (.5 cubic ft.)









Shelley sponsored bills: 1950-1963

Physical Description: (1.5 cubic ft.)









1957-1958 (2 folders)


1959-1960 (2 folders)


1961-1962 (2 folders)


1963 (2 folders)


Series IV: Audio-visual material




Series V: Posters


Campaign poster for SF Mayor, 1963 (oversize)