University of Texas Arlington

Mexican American Farm Workers Collection:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Swallow, Shirley
Title: Mexican American Farm Workers Collection
Dates: 1969-1987
Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, newsletters, newspaper clippings, material on illegal aliens, migrant workers, farm workers, farm worker ministries, the Teamsters, Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, and the various strikes and boycotts conducted by the union. It would be of value to students and researchers who are interested in fledgling unions and in farm workers, particularly Mexican American farm workers.
Identification AR408
Quantity: 3 boxes (1.25 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library

Historical Note

This collection contains contains a great deal of information about the United Farm Workers and the organizations that supported its efforts to alleviate the plight of the farm workers.

The National Farm Workers Association was established in Delano, California in September 1962 by Cesar Chavez. In 1966 the NFWA changed its name to the National Farm Workers Union and later that year merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form a new union affiliated with the AFL-CIO. This new organization was called the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, and Cesar Chavez was named the director. "The grinding cycle of poverty that is handed down from generation to generation exists because the employers will not let the workers organize," Chavez said. Now, as head of a larger and more powerful organization, he worked tirelessly to change this situation, using his charisma to persuade farm workers to band together to support strikes and boycotts, including the famous national grape and lettuce boycotts, which eventually forced to growers to sign contracts with the union. Chavez himself endured fasts, death threats and even a jail sentence to advance La Causa.

During the early years of the union, Chavez had to work in a politically hostile environment. With the election of Edmund Brown, Jr. as governor of the state of California in 1974, all this changed. One of the stellar achievements of Brown's administration was the passage of a farm-labor law in 1975 and the creation of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board that gave farm workers their first collective bargaining rights. As a result of this legislation, the union (which changed its name in 1973 to the United Farm Workers of America) was able to enter into a legally binding agreement with the Teamsters in 1977, ending a decade of hostility between the two unions. The collection contains material describing the aggressive and sometimes violent tactics of the Teamsters and the sweetheart contracts that the union signed with some of the growers in an unsuccessful effort to destroy the UFWA.

When Cesar Chavez began organizing the farm workers union, his friends at the California Migrant Ministry offered assistance in the form of food for strikers, money for gasoline, and so forth. As the number of United Farm Workers grew, so did the ministry that supported their efforts. In 1971 the California Migrant Ministry merged with similar Catholic and Protestant groups to form the National Farm Worker Ministry. Both these organizations are represented in this collection together with files for other groups that aided the farm workers:

  • Farm Worker Emergency Relief Fund, Friends of the Farm Workers, National Student
  • Committee for Farmworkers, and Tarrant County Friends of the Farm Workers.

While the various support groups ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the impoverished farm workers, the union brought the workers together and helped unify them so that they could bargain for better wages and working conditions. But towering, over them all was Cesar Chavez, the man whose spirit and dedication and humility dominated the farm worker movement. Cesar Chavez, who died on April 23, 1993 at the age of sixty-six, was as the late Senator Robert Kennedy said, truly "One of the heroic figures of our time."

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of three manuscript boxes of material. The original donation included three books: Ministry of the Dispossessed, Long Road to Delano, Conquering Goliath-Cesar Chavez at the Beginning; which were transferred to the circulating collection; 27 issues of Ya Mero (1971-1972) and 56 issues of El Malcriado (1969-1975), which were transferred to the newspaper collection; and 18 issues of Food and Justice (1986-1990), which were added to the pamphlet file.

There was no order to the collection when received. In fact, many items were still folded and in their original mailing envelopes. It was, therefore, necessary to impose an order on the collection. Since it was a small collection, folders were arranged by subject/document type and placed in alphabetical order with the contents of each folder arranged chronologically. Newspaper clippings were photocopied, and duplicate items were discarded.

The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, newsletters, newspaper clippings, material on illegal aliens, migrant workers, farm workers, farm worker ministries, the Teamsters, Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, and the various strikes and boycotts conducted by the union. Records cover the period from 1969-1994.

AR408 would be of value to students and researchers who are interested in fledgling unions and in farm workers, particularly Mexican American farm workers. The collection also contains much interesting information on Cesar Chavez and on farm worker ministries.



Open for research.

Literary Rights

Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.

Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Chavez, Cesar, 1927-
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee--Fort Worth Boycott Committee--Records and correspondence.
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee--Records and correspondence.
United Farm Workers of America--Records and correspondence.
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee--Records.
Mexican American agricultural laborers--Texas.
Mexican American agricultural laborers--California.
Agricultural laborers--Labor unions--California.
Agricultural laborers--Labor unions--Texas.
Strikes and lockouts--Agricultural laborers--Texas.
Strikes and lockouts--Agricultural laborers--California.
Boycotts--United States--Sources.
Boycotts--Texas--Fort Worth--Sources.
Alternate Titles
Texas Labor Archives.

Related Materials

Additional information concerning Mexican American Farm Workers, the United Farm Worker Organizing Committee, and United Farm Workers of America may be obtained from the following sources in Special Collections:

  • Processed Collections
    • AR4 Tarrant County Central Labor Council
    • AR46 Mexican American Farm Workers Movement
    • AR55 F. F. (Pancho) Medrano Papers
    • AR69 United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, Fort Worth Boycott
    • AR135 AFL-CIO, Region 17
    • AR237 Tarrant County Central Labor Council
    • AR265 Margaret Carter Papers
    • AR273 Dallas AFL-CIO Council
    • AR278 Texas AFL-CIO, Mexican American Affairs (Series 11)
  • Unprocessed Collections
    • 92-12 AFL-CIO, Region 4
  • Oral History Transcripts
    • OH7 Antonio Orendain
    • OH12 F. F. (Pancho) Medrano
    • OH13 Henry Munoz
    • OH25 Archbishop Robert E. Lucey
    • 0H24 Father Sherrill Smith
    • OH26 Father William A. Killian
    • OH27 Father John McCarthy
  • Newspapers
    • Food and Justice
    • El Malcriado
    • Ya Mero

Administrative Information


Mexican American Farm Worker Collection, AR408, Box number, Folder number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library.


The Mexican American Farm Workers Collection was donated to the Special Collections Division of The University of Texas at Arlington Library on February, 1996, by Mrs. Shirley Swallow of Fort Worth, Texas. Mrs. Swallow was active in one of the farm worker support groups and also donated collection AR69, United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, Fort Worth Boycott.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Vinh Tran/Jane Boley, April 1998.

Container List

Box Folder
1 2 Advertisements, 1974-1975
2 Articles, 1974-1975
3 Booklets, 1975
4 Boycotts - Flyers, list, 1977, n.d.
5 Braceros - Memorandum, sample letters with enclosure, 1974, [1978 or 1979]
6 Bumper Stickers, n.d.
7 Calendar, 1970
8 California Migrant Ministry - Newsletter, fact sheets, correspondence, article, 1970-1971
9 Cesar Chavez - Newspaper and magazine articles, flyers, copy of telegram, memorial program, 1969-1982, 1994, n.d.
10 Christian Church Strategy Conference - Agendas, reports, recommendations, procedures, notes, 1972
11 Correspondence, 1970-1973, 1980, n.d.
12 Farm Labor Organizing Committee - Correspondence, articles, chronology, list of addresses, 1978-1986
13 Farm Workers - Fact sheets, booklets, articles, 1970-1984
14 Farm Worker Emergency Relief Fund - Notices, correspondence, lists, 1971-1972, n.d.
15 Farm Worker Week - Lists of resources and suggestions, news releases, copy of photographs, memoranda, 1974-1986, n.d.
16 Fort Worth Boycott Office - Newsletter, articles, correspondence, educational material, lists of expenses and donations and issues, flyer, chronology, press release, bank statements, list of members activities report, photographs of Chavez in Fort Worth (Nov. 1969) and United Farm Worker Picnic (July, 1974), 1972-1984, n.d.
17 Friends of the Farm Workers - List of donors and donations, fact sheet, correspondence, 1980, n.d.
18 Gallo Wine - Articles, correspondence, new releases, fact sheet, poster, flyer, chronology, response by Cesar Chavez, advertisements, legal documents, 1973-1976
19 Grape Boycott Texas and California - Articles, flyers, booklet, correspondence, news release, reports, picketing guideline, background information, statistics, list, 1970-1975, n.d.
20 Illegal Aliens - Articles, new release, memoranda, open letter, testimony, 1974
Box Folder
2 1 Invoices, 1969
2 Legislation - Fact sheet, newsletter, articles, information on legislation affecting farm workers, 1971-1978, n.d.
3 Lettuce Strike and Boycott - Articles, fact sheets, flyers, leaflets, newsletters, chronologies, memoranda, resolutions, report, lettuce campaign note, 1971-1979
4 Migrant Ministries - Fact sheet, statements, lists of goals, correspondence, articles, position paper, flyer, resolution, 1970-1986, n.d.
5 Migrant Workers - Articles, 1971-1978
6 Miscellaneous - Postcard, unity pin, Christmas and New Year cards, booklet describing farm worker film, calendar, copy of photographs, articles, boycott announcement, expense list, memorial program, news release, flyers, posters, 1972-1986, n.d.
7 National Farm Worker Ministry - Articles, statements concerning boycott, summary, correspondence, cards, memoranda, chronology, flyer, fact sheet, 1971-1987, n.d.
8 National Farm Worker Ministry Newsletter - Newsletters, 1972, 1974-1988, 1994
9 National Student Committee for Farmworkers - Letter, memoranda, article, bibliography, form, list of farm workers and films, boycott ideas, information on student internship
10 Newsletters (Miscellaneous), 1970-1976
11 Newspapers, 1973-1975
12 Pesticides - Articles, new releases, flyers, 1970, 1985, n.d.
13 Photographs - Slides
Box Folder
3 1 Printed Material - Flyers, articles, 1976, n.d.
2 Safeway - Letter, articles, fact sheet, flyers, 1973-1974, n.d.
3 San Antonio Boycott Office - Bibliography, letter, 1973, n.d.
4 Songs, 1971-1973
5 Stamps, n.d.
6 Sun-Maid / Sun Sweet - List, memoranda, letter, 1976
7 Tarrant County Democratic Woman's Club - Notes, monthly meeting, minutes, constitution, statement, treasurer's report, 1968-1970
8 Tarrant County Friends of the Farm Workers - Constitution, newsletter, by-laws, n.d.
9 Teamster / UFW - Announcement of Purex boycott, flyer, articles, questions and answers sheet, correspondence, chronology of strike, form letter, 1970-1979, n.d.
10 The Farm Worker Newsletter, 1972-1976, n.d.
11 United Farm Workers - Press release, correspondence, articles, list, contract, statements, memoranda, newsletter, flyers, notice, 1969-1972, 1981, n.d.
12 United Farm Workers, Arizona - Articles, memoranda, 1974
13 United Farm Workers, California - Correspondence, chronology, description of UFW, memoranda, articles, statements, essays, information sheet, 1974
14 United Farm Workers, California - Articles, correspondence, statement, election tally, statistic, memoranda, boycott notes, news brief, background information, newsletters, list, convention addresses, description of Bracero Program, news release, flyer, 1975-1980, n.d.
15 United Farm Workers, photographs
16 United Farm Workers Constitutional Convention - Summary convention, constitution, card, article, 1975-1978, n.d.
17 United Farm Workers Organizing Committee - Newsletters, 1980-1982, n.d.
18 United Farm Workers Pledge Committee - Notices, correspondence, lists, flyer, 1974-1980
19 United Farm Workers, Texas - Lists, articles, letter, flyers, card, solicitation, essay, 1974-1983
20 United Farm Workers Texas Regional Office, Houston - Memoranda, list of boycott committee, statement on election and legislation, flyers, articles, correspondence, notes, form letters, fact sheet, 1970-1979, n.d.
21 United Farm Workers Texas Regional Office, Houston - Flyer, articles, card, statement, newsletters, election statistics, list, correspondence, 1975-1976, n.d.
OS148B Poster, n.d.