Guide to the San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection, 1947-1974

Processed by Diana Bustamante; machine-readable finding aid created by James Lake
Sanoian Special Collections Library
California State University, Fresno
5200 North Barton Avenue M/S ML 34
Fresno, California 93740-8014
Phone: (559) 278-2595
Fax: (559) 278-6952
© 1998
California State University, Fresno. All rights reserved.

Guide to the San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection, 1947-1974

Sanoian Special Collections Library

Henry Madden Library

Fresno, California

Contact Information:

  • Sanoian Special Collections Library
  • California State University, Fresno
  • 5200 North Barton Avenue M/S ML 34
  • Fresno, California 93740-8014
  • Phone: (559) 278-2595
  • Fax: (559) 278-6952
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Diana Bustamante
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 1998 California State University, Fresno. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1947-1974
Extent: 2 linear feet
Photographs: In box 1.
Repository: Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).

Sanoian Special Collections Library.
Fresno, California
Language: English.

Administrative Information


The collection was donated by Winthrop B. Yinger in 1970.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.


Agricultural production found a prosperous home in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The valley's fertile soil and climate made it a million-dollar industry. Of vital importance was also the cheap labor provided by incoming immigrants who were willing to work for low wages. Although immigrants of every ethnicity were working in the fields in the 1960s, the majority were Filipinos and people of Mexican descent. In 1965 a strike by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by Larry Itliong was joined by the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by Cesar Chavez. This began the fight for justice for the farm worker through agricultural unionism.
Before this joint strike Chavez had already begun his work to organize farm workers. In 1962 he created the NFWA, which held its first organizing convention in Fresno, California. At the convention Cesar Chavez was voted president and the Aztec thunderbird became the official symbol of the organization and continued as such throughout the organization's various name changes.
The shouts of "huelga," the Mexican word for strike, began in the small community of Delano, California. The demands of the NFWA and AWOC were for higher wages and better living conditions. At the time Chavez had been approved for a $276,887 grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEC) "for an adult education project among migrant workers" (Box 2, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEC) War on Proverty grant, telegrams, 1965). He asked that the grant be withheld temporarily because he was in the middle of a strike. An uproar over the decision of the OEC to grant Chavez the money began in the small community. A flood of letters and telegrams was sent to Congressman Harlen Hagen, who was flown in from Washington to Delano for the sole purpose of breaking the strike. The NFWA and AWOC merged in 1966 to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (UFWOC, AFL-CIO). From a pilgrimage to Sacramento in 1966 through a nationwide boycott in 1968, the UFWOC was successful in bringing its cause to the attention of the nation.
The union brought down the first big powerhouses of the agricultural world when Schenely Farms and the DiGiorgio Corporation signed contracts with the NFWA/UFWOC, AFL-CIO. Guimarra and Ernest & Julio Gallo signed with the union after a hard-fought battle. The union had 180 contracts by 1973. The contracts called for strict controls on pesticides, a medical plan and the hiring hall. The hiring hall clause stipulated that growers hire laborers according to the union's seniority list and that they be paid at least the minimum wage even during slow periods. The hiring hall was debated numerous times between the union and growers. The dispute over the hiring hall precluded any chance of renewing the contracts. By 1973, when the contracts were up for renewal, the union lost all but twelve of the 180 contracts to the Teamsters (Box 3, Strike and boycott against grapes, Newspaper clippings, 1973). Despite the blow, Cesar Chavez did begin to rebuild the union which changed its name to its now present name, the National Farm Workers (NFW), in 1972.
Chavez was a man whose powerful speeches drew hundreds of thousands to join "la causa" for equality not only in the San Joaquin Valley but around the world. He was held as the modern Zapata. He was bold and aggressive in tackling the issues of pesticides and unsanitary conditions faced by farm workers.

Scope and Content

The San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor collection measures 2 linear feet and dates from 1947 to 1971. The collection is arranged in five series: Yinger bibliography; Office of Economic Opportnity (OEC) War on Poverty; Chavez, Cesar; Strike and boycott against grapes.
The Yinger bibliography (1970) covers information on the history of the Delano grape strike, the UFWA and related organizations that were integral to the farm labor movement from 1959 to 1970. Most of the material listed in the bibliography is available in this series. The items are arranged in the exact order in which they appear in the bibliography. The bibliography was created by WinthropYinger, donor of the collection. Material that is not in the collection is noted with an asterisk in the bibliography.
The Farm labor in California series (1947-1974) contains articles, reports and pamphlets. Topics range from health conditions of migrant farm workers to wages, and laws concerning farm workers. The annual reports presented to the National Share Croppers Fund give a brief outline of the farm workers' conditions for each year.
The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEC) War on Poverty grant(1964-1966) was initiated to fight the nation's war on poverty. The OEC found itself in the public eye when it granted Cesar Chavez, leader of the NFWA, a $276,887 anti-poverty grant. United States Representative Harlan Hagen's correspondence as well as that of Senator Thomas H. Kuchel are included. Much of the correspondence is with the general public who was outraged that the OEC had granted the funds to Chavez, who had become the enemy of the small agricultural community of Delano because of the strike.
The Cesar Chavez series (1965-1973) includes a chronology of his life (1927-1970) as well as a variety of interviews with him. However, the bulk of the material on Chavez is in the Yinger bibliography series which covers Chavez's struggle to organize the union and his dedication to obtaining his goals through non-violent means.
When President Lyndon Johnson announced in 1966 that Cesar Chavez was being considered for a position on a civil rights commission for Mexican-Americans, Representative Hagen was besieged with telegrams from the Kern County Board of Supervisors and the growers in Delano. The possible appointment of Chavez to a federal position (1966) generated an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of Chavez as well as his associates. The report is included in this series.
The Strike and boycott against grapes in 1966 (1960-1974) sparked a division through the town of Delano. The clergy of Delano were drawn into the controversy. While some chose to remain silent, others joined the picketing farm workers. Newspaper clippings covering the church's position, as well as a pamphlet entitled Clergy Views on the Strike, give brief overviews of their role in the grape strike.
Two highly publicized contracts signed with the NFWA were with Schenley Farms and the DiGiorgio Corporation. Schenley Farms was the first to sign a contract which set up provisions to protect the safety and health of the workers. Under the contract Schenley Farms was to provide protective garments to guard workers against pesticides and any other material as the need arose. The union also established a hiring hall which recruited and furnished the employees needed by an employer. The hourly rate for each job classification is also in the contract. The collection also contains several documents concerning the DiGiorgio contract as well as the actual contract. Additional information is in the Yinger bibliography.
The Newsletters subseries includes El Malcriado (The Misfit), the official publication of the NFWA. All of the newsletters in the series cover the strike in Delano.

Container List


Yinger bibliography, 1970

Additional Note

(see bibliography for complete listings under each topic)
Box Box 1



The Arts


Agricultural Workers Freedom to Work Association (AWFWA)


California Migrant Ministry (CMM)


Cesar Estrada Chavez (see also box 3, Chavez, Cesar)


UFWOC Contracts With Growers


Church Documents


Farm Labor


Marches, Pilgrimages


National Advisory Committee on Farm Labor


National Sharecroppers fund


National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) History


United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), AFL-CIO


Miscellaneous Sources & Documents


Farm labor in California

Box Box 1

Agriculture (1 folder)


Agribusiness and its Workers, 1963


Ethical Issues in Commercial Agriculture, 1970


Paradoxes of Agricultural Unionism in California, 1974


Principal agriculture areas, 1960


Productivity of Labor in Agricultural Production, 1967




General, 1958-1968


California migrants, 1949


Concerning wages, 1960, 1968


DiGiorgio Corporation and Schenley Farms, 1966


Health, 1959-1963


Organized, 1960-1965


Bracero program


The bracero in California agriculture pamphlet, 1966


Newspaper clippings, 1955-1963

Box Box 2

Reports (4 folders)


Folder 1


Annual farm labor reports, 1962, 1964, 1966


Folder 2


California farm labor problems report of the Senate Fact Finding Committee on Labor and Welfare Parts 1-2, 1961, 1963


Folder 3


The condition of farm workers annual reports, 1958-1965, 1967


Folder 4


Farm Workers and the Law, 1967


Migrant workers, 1962


National advisory committee on farm labor, activities report, 1966


Public funds used to develop activities for migrant farm workers, 1967


Wages and Working Conditions of Migrant Farm Workers, 1966


Other (4 folders)


Folder 1


A New Era in Farm Labor, 1967


Background for Cooperative Effort in Serving Migrants, 1956


Justicia al Obrero del Campo, 1967


The migrant farm worker, 1960


Non-cash benefits survey, 1967


Folder 2


Health of the migrant farm worker, 1957, 1963, 1965, 1967


Folder 3


Organizability of Farm Workers, 1952


Problems and Efforts to Deal with Farm Labor, 1968


Folder 4


Working conditions, 1947, 1964


Office of Economic Opportunity (OEC)War on Poverty grant

Box Box 2



Hagen, Harlan, 1965-1966


Kuchel, Thomas H., 1965


Economic opportunity act congressional bill, 1964-1966


Newspaper clippings, 1965 and undated


Resolutions passed by Kern County against OEC grant, 1965


Sargeant Shriver letter, 1965


Telegrams, 1965


Chavez, Cesar (see also box 1, Yinger bibliography, Cesar Estrada Chavez)

Box Box 2

Bibliography, 1965-1973


Chronology, undated


Journal article interviews, 1970-1971


Possible appointment to a federal position


Hagen correspondence, 1966


FBI report, undated


Newspaper clippings, 1966


Telegrams, 1966


Speech on money and organizing, 1971


Strike and boycott against grapes

Box Box 2



DiGiorgio Corporation, 1967


Schenley Farms, undated


Magazine article, 1966




Schedule of trip to Sacramento, undated


Plan of Delano (reprint in English) undated


Pro-farm worker material


Appeals to striking farm workers, 1965 and undated


Buy union label grapes poster, undated


Kennedy medical plan, undated


Interview with Jim Drake, 1971


Newspaper clippings, 1960, 1965-1966, 1973-1974




American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), 1965


California Migrant Ministry, 1970, 1971


Delano Newsletter, 1967 and undated




El Malcriado, 1967-1968, [shelved with Woodward periodicals]


Grape Strike Bay Area Newsletter, 1966


Ministry, 1972


Washington Report, 1966




Reunion in Calixco, undated


Senate bill 40, 1971


Strike in Salinas, undated


Pro-grower material


DiGiorgio fact sheet, 1966


Hagen correspondence, 1966


Newspaper clippings, 1966 and undated




Citizens For Facts from Delano, 1966


Council of California Growers, 1965 and 1966


Pamphlets, undated


Anti-consumer boycott


Clergy's views on boycott


Growers' view


Telegrams (charges brought against law enforcement by Chavez), 1966