This is the final week of my fellowship, and this will be my final blog post. I completed my presentation today and I’m proud to report that it went very well. The materials I laid out for the audience definitely garnered some interest, and the audience asked great questions. I was especially happy that Dr. Gabriele Carey came to my presentation. She taught my introductory archives course in Fall 2018 that processed the first half of the collection, so I thought she would appreciate learning that the collection had been fully processed.
On that note, I am equally glad to have learned from a member of the Special Collections staff that this collection is highly sought after. Many researchers at the Claremont Colleges have already expressed interest in perusing the collection. Moving forward, I am proud to know that the story of the UFW and the voices of people like Socorro Gomez-Potter and Yolanda Esquivel will be heard.
I want to thank the Claremont Center for Engagement with Primary Sources and Lisa Crane for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I learned a lot through this fellowship, and those skills will be valuable as I move forward. Thanks to the special collections staff at the Claremont Colleges library, who very graciously opened up the processing room early and closed it late on many occasions to accommodate my hectic schedule. I am very grateful.
Happy Holidays to you all, and I hope you all have a wonderful New Year.
My presentation will be next week on Thursday December 19th at 11:00 am. My PowerPoint is all but finished, but I will look it over a bit more tomorrow and determine if I should add anything. I’m looking forward to presenting, and I am most eager to field questions from the audience about the collection.
Next week will be quite busy for sure. I have two final papers due next week, along with the presentation. As the fellowship winds to a close, I must say that I will miss working with Matt Garcia Papers. There is so much information here that I did not have a chance to read through as I was processing. If I did not have my own MA thesis to work on, I may very well return to the collection as a researcher. I’m sure it will be in high demand, and I hope that my work will make it easier for researchers to quickly identify which materials best suit their needs.
My final week of the fellowship and final blog post will be next week. I usually post on Fridays, but I may post next week’s blog after the presentation. So, look out for my final entry next Thursday!
The end of the Fall 2019 semester is rapidly approaching. The air is colder, and deadlines are looming ever closer. Fortunately, I can report that the duties of my fellowship are nearly complete. The data for the now processed second half of the Matt Garcia Papers has been imported to the cloud program ArchivesSpace, and I merged the two halves into one list of folder titles arranged alphabetically. Soon, the completed finding aid will be available on the Online Archive of California (OAC).
At this point, the only daunting task on my horizon is the presentation to the library staff. I have not had to write extensive series collection summaries or a biographic history, as most of the front matter was completed after the first half of the processing was finished in 2018. I simply must rewrite a few entries and add the relevant information regarding the new items in the collection. The finish line is in sight.
With that in mind, I hope everyone has a lovely week off class. Let us return refreshed and prepared for a strong finish to Fall 2019. Happy Thanksgiving!
One final note, I included images of the UFW publication I mentioned last week below. I am not exactly a technological savant, so I couldn’t get the images to look right. Alas, I figured it out. Enjoy!
I have learned quite a bit working in archives over the past year, and I must say that one of those lessons became apparent this week. The lesson is that, no matter how much you feel that you are finished, a second look back through the collection reveals new questions and issues. For me, this took the form of working through some oversize items that needed to be placed in proper containers. These included large photocopies, and a few newspapers.
One of the newspapers I looked at this week drew my attention more than it had previously. Garcia obtained a few issues of the UFW newspaper, El Malcriado, from 1973. The paper was “the official voice of the United Farmworkers,” and kept up with boycott news, legal developments in the union’s struggle for rights, and one paper here includes a message from Cesar Chavez himself.
A final note, I am trying to work quickly to get the finding aid ready. There have already been requests for materials made by researchers. Of course, Special Collections provided access, but I know that a completed finding aid will make things easier for prospective researchers in the future.
This week, I want to write briefly about the nature of the oral history materials in Garcia’s collection. Oral history materials in this collection take the form of consent and release forms, interview transcripts, and conference programs and brochures. Of the six boxes in the processed collection, oral history materials take up nearly a full box if you include transcripts from interviewers other than Garcia himself.
Garcia interviewed many prominent figures and former UFW members, including a former UFW lawyer, and participants of the Coachella Valley Unified School District student walkout (see blog “Chicanx History in the Coachella Valley” or “Missing Voices”). As I look through the transcripts, especially a few of the longer ones, I must wonder if Garcia transcribed these interviews himself or hired a research assistant. One of the transcripts weighs in at just over 200 pages. These oral histories were crucial to his research, and it has been very interesting to read through a few of them. At least, some of the shorter ones.
Now that the processing is done, I am working on creating a container list. The container list is an excel spreadsheet which outlines the folder titles, dates, and notes that will be incorporated into the finding aid. As I create the list, I must go back through some folders to make sure I add any important notes, such as significant points of interest for researchers or in some cases warnings about violent content and explicit language. This process can tedious, but it is important. However, I can be sure that it is not as tedious as transcribing hours of interview tapes. I’ll leave that to the oral historians (or, more likely, their research assistants).
This is my eighth blog post, which means that I am officially halfway through my 16-week fellowship! I am also happy to report that I finished processing the rest of Garcia’s collection. What was once seven disheveled boxes of notes, articles, and oral history transcripts is now five neatly organized boxes, lined with archival folders. Next week, the second half begins as I take the first steps to produce a finding aid for the collection.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this fellowship, the current collection will be incorporated into the first half processed in 2018. Now that the processing is done, I imagine that the next few weeks or so will include incorporating files into the existing first half and entering metadata into ArchivesSpace. Also, I think it might be wise to start thinking about the presentation I will have to give at the end of this fellowship. I’m sure it will be upon me much quicker than I expect.
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.
Last week, I wrote briefly about two Chicana teachers, Socorro Gomez-Potter and Yolanda Almaraz Esquivel. This week, as I read through these oral history interviews conducted by Garcia, I thought about the nature of archives and their historic lack of representation for women and especially women of color. These “missing voices” are problematic in archives, and Garcia’s collection serves as a partial remedy to this issue.
Both women attended California State University San Bernardino to receive advanced degrees in education and were two of just 21 ethnic Mexican students on campus. They returned to the Coachella Valley area to become teachers. They were advocates for bilingual education and student rights. This advocacy was often met with discrimination and even physical assault. When Yolanda witnessed a white teacher assault a student on several occasions, she confronted the teacher and was then physically assaulted herself. Unfortunately, the district chose to cover up this incident so Yolanda, Socorro, and their allies organized protests, encouraged parents to boycott the school, and participated in a student walkout on April 8, 1976.
Ultimately, they were reassigned to non-teaching roles. Their devotion made an impact, however, as the Coachella Valley District implemented bilingual education soon after, and the teacher accused of assault was “encouraged to retire.” Through Garcia’s research and oral history interviews, the stories of these brave Chicana women can now be heard and made available to researchers. The “missing voices” are no longer missing in this case. But, of course, there is still much work to be done.