As I approach the end of the major processing of Garcia’s collection, I am reminded of one of the occupational hazards of archiving. Especially having received training as a historian, there are so many compelling primary source documents here that, at times, I find myself pouring over correspondence and articles absorbing information and momentarily forgetting that I have a job to do. Whether it be the courageous and inspiring stories of Socorro Gomez-Potter and Yolanda Almaraz Esquivel, or the eerie transcripts of “The Game” at UFW headquarters, the path to distraction is wide open.
And yet, part of my job is to write this blog and fill you all in on what I find challenging and interesting about the collection. I suppose then, that my digressions are warranted. This week I came across materials Garcia compiled regarding violence that occurred during UFW strikes. On several occasions, workers were beaten for picketing by Teamsters or the police. One farm worker picketing at Giumarra Vineyards, Juan De La Cruz, was murdered by a Teamster. He was standing next to his wife when he was shot. Word of the murder spread as far as England, where the Sunday Times wrote a piece on his murder and on the efforts of the Teamsters to “smash the farmworkers’ union” (UFW). There is an outline of the event, including news of other violent clashes, present as well. Though unlabeled, the writing style leads me to believe it is a UFW release.
The collection is filled with the history of the conflict between the UFW and Teamsters, from correspondence between the two organizations, to articles covering their interactions from a wide range of publications. It’s been very interesting to read a few of them and learn more about the labor movement in California history. If I meet my goal of completing the last box by the end of next week, perhaps I’ll go back and read a few of Cesar Chavez’s letters. But only a few, I promise.