The Coachella Valley has a rich history, filled with the experience of Chicanx students and workers organizing and advocating for their rights to education and fair labor. The Coachella Valley played host to numerous union conflicts regarding labor and education in the 1970s, long before the name of this desert landscape became linked to an overrated music festival.
Garcia’s research details Chicanx student walkouts in the Coachella Valley and the participation of several teachers and administrators. Two teachers, Socorro Gomez-Potter and Yolanda Almaraz Esquivel lead the charge in advocating for bilingual education and the rights of Chicanx students. Garcia created profiles for these two based off interviews he conducted, and once posted online on Brown University’s website, a response he held onto demonstrated how contentious the issues were for those who lived through the movement.
Garica kept an email from someone who claimed there was incorrect information on Brown’s website regarding the details of student abuse by a certain teacher, which sparked the decision for the students to engage in walkouts. The email comes off as hastily written, claiming they were an “Anglo teacher” in the district during the time of the walkouts. They write, “You need to tell both sides of the story, before others do.” Significantly, and perhaps ironically, the underrepresented and marginalized experience of Chicanx students and teachers is exactly what Garcia was researching for his book. Unknown to the individual who wrote the email, the second side of the story was on its way in the form of his next book.
I’d like to include details of these profiles, the walkouts, and the oral histories next week. I’ll also write regarding details of oral history research Garcia conducted on UFW members as well.
How does one process while jet-lagged? Carefully and intentionally. Most of the materials I worked with this week were organized quite well, so arranging them were not too difficult. One challenge I came across presented itself in the form of timelines taped and glued together. Garcia created two timelines, one of the UFW and farm worker movement, and one regarding the Synanon program (I will write more about Synanon and what it is in a later blog post). I will have to carefully separate what I can, without damaging the materials, to ensure safe storage and preservation.
I stumbled upon some interesting correspondence and memos regarding the United Farm Workers (UFW) and their internal relations in 1977. One folder he labeled “Purged/Resigned” contained information regarding a wave of firings and resignations from the UFW referred to as the “Monday Night Massacre.” The materials provide unique insight into the inner workings of the UFW under the leadership of Cesar Chavez. This is just one sample of compelling evidence that Garica uncovered in his research. Next week, I’ll give some more examples of some significant and surprising information Garica was able to find regarding the UFW and Synanon.
Today I began the major processing work on the Matt Garcia Papers. After completing my collection survey and processing plan last week, my first goal was to place all the loose materials found in the collection into archival folders. This will make processing go by quicker in the future, and it will help to preserve those materials until I can get to them.
The loose materials did present a bit of a challenge, as it takes time to separate out large stacks of documents from each other and differentiate reports and articles from correspondence and transcripts with no clear labeling or fasteners to combine them together. Overall, Garcia was well organized with his research and most of his materials are in file folders or clearly labeled. Where there is chaos, I will establish order. Such is the life of a lone arranger.
One quick note, we decided to tweak the processing plan a bit. Instead of treating this like an individual collection, I will eventually incorporate materials from this half into the existing collection (the processed first half). This will ease the efforts of researchers in the future. I was able to fully process one box today and made a significant dent in the second box.
I’m looking forward to next week when I will continue the first round of processing. For now, I am off to Germany. Until next week, auf wiedersehen!