Ethnic Studies

Collections in this category illustrate the diversity of American society, and focus on the contributions of minorities and marginal groups in forming a rich cultural history. The legal, educational, political, and personal experiences of the ethnic groups noted in this subject category portray perceptions and points of view outside the mainstream of society, and widen and deepen our sense of both the past and the present.

In order to meet wartime labor shortages on farms during World War II, the United States government authorized the importation of Mexican workers on a temporary basis. By the time the bracero program officially ended in 1964, California agriculture was firmly entrenched in a farm labor system dependent on the use of migrant foreign workers. Cesar Chavez and others had begun to organize a labor union and strikes and boycotts became a common form of protest. The papers of Raymond Roth, once the chief of the California Farm Labor Service, contains historical information, background reports, speeches, photographs, and correspondence detailing the recruitment and use of Mexican Nationals for California agriculture purposes between 1940 and 1980 .

Also prominent in the holdings under this subject category is the formidable collection of materials relating to Native American history compiled by Jack D. Forbes, a Native American and professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis. The Forbes collection contains extensive materials relating to Native American education and the organizations, demographics, treaties, government, and culture of Native American tribes throughout the United States, with an emphasis on Native American education; materials on Mexican-Americans and African-Americans are also included. Many of these items are unique and fragile; some exist in microfilm. Complementing these materials are the audiotapes collected by Frank Quinn, who concentrated on oral tradition among Native Americans of California. This collection contains stories and songs as well as political interviews and historical lore. In a more academic vein, the Webb papers consist of anthropological research notes, reports, and journals concerning linguistic patterns of the Pomo language.

The African American History Collection chronicles the evolution of the civil rights movement from the pre-Civil War period through modern times. The collection contains hundreds of pamphlets concerning civil rights, desegregation, lynching, economic reform, and revolutionary strategies, written by such figures as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and George Washington Carver; a large collection of NAACP pamphlets are also included. Supplementing this collection is a small but disturbing collection of “bills of sale” transferring slaves from one owner to another, collected by Sybil Askine.

The approximately 100 linear feet of materials in this subject area are in English and although there are no geographical limitations, most of the material relates to the United States between 1800-1980. Related materials may be found in the Radical Pamphlets Collection; for materials focussing specifically on civil rights in the 1960’s and 1970’s, see the Contemporary Issues Collection. The archives of the Chicano Studies Department of the University of California at Davis may also yield significant materials.