California Labor School Records (1942-1955)
Summary Information
Title: California Labor School Records
Creator: California Labor School
Inclusive dates: 1942-1955
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Abstract:
Formerly the Tom Mooney Labor School, the records consist of correspondence, minutes of faculty meetings, faculty committee reports, financial records and fundraising materials, promotional flyers and press releases, student publications, course outlines and course announcement flyers, school term schedules from 1950 to 1955, and a transcript of the proceedings of a forum, "Industry and Labor in the Postwar World," held on July 26, 1944. Included are letters to Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern concerning support of a music department at CLS. The school was investigated in 1946 by the Tenney Committee, the California legislature's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, on the charge that an institute jointly held by CLS and the University of California was Communist-sponsored. However, the only indication of this fact in the records is brief mention in the faculty meeting minutes.
Call number: LABADIE California Labor School
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center), Joseph A. Labadie Collection

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).

Preferred Citation:

California Labor School Records, University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center)

Collection History
Acquisition Information:

Unknown

Processing Information:

Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Tom Hyry, May 1996.


Arrangement

The records are organized into four series:

  1. Academic Files, 1942-1950
  2. Office Files, 1945-1955, bulk 1950-1955 (organized chronologically by term)
  3. School Promotion, 1943-1950
  4. School Publications, 1943-1955

Biography

The California Labor School (CLS) was founded in 1942 in San Francisco as the Tom Mooney Labor Schoolchanging its name in 1944. David Jenkins was the initial director and Holland Roberts the first education director for this "people's school." The school was sponsored by 72 trade unions belonging to the then separate American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and offered courses on a wide variety of subjects including labor organization, journalism, music, drama, history, women's studies, economics and industrial arts. Courses were taught by union officials and professors from neighboring universities, such as Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. By 1947 the CLS boasted having taught over 30,000 students, and had opened branch schools in several different California cities including Oakland, Berkeley, and Los Angeles.

In 1945, the CLS received approval from the United States Veteran's Administration to educate veterans under the GI Bill. This status made the school unique among its contemporary progressive schools, and brought in many students with government funding who otherwise would not have been able to attend.

The school frequently hosted prominent guest speakers such as W.E.B. DuBois, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eric Sevareid and Orson Welles. The CLS also put together acclaimed choral and drama groups, comprised of students and union members, which entertained widely at different school and union events.

In the first of a series of charges, the school was targeted by the Tenney Committee of the California legislature in 1947, as being subversive and un-American. In 1948, the Attorney General of the United States placed the school on its subversive list causing the Treasury Department to revoke tax-exempt status retroactively, forcing the CLS to pay $7,000 in back taxes. The school survived in a smaller manifestation until 1957 when it finally ran out of funds to fight its many court battles.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The records of the California Labor School(CLS) are comprised of materials documenting the educational programs, activities, and events of the school. The records are organized into four series: Academic Files, Office Files, School Promotion, and School Publications. Records of particular interest are pamphlets found in the School Publications series, which include essays, speeches, stories, plays, and even a book of early songs by Malvina Reynolds. Researchers will also find notable historical facts on the CLS in the Press Releases and Ephemera folder of the School Promotion series.

Subject Terms
    Subject Terms:
    • Alternative schools--California--20th century
    • Labor movement--Study and teaching
    • Progressive education--California--20th century
    • Trade-unions and education--United States
    • Jenkins, David
    • Roberts, Holland
    • Tom Mooney Labor School
    Form and Genre:
    • Announcements
    • Correspondence
    • Pamphlets
    • Syllabi
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Academic Files,  1942-1950 [series]:

    The Academic Files, 1942-1950, consist of documents specifically relating to one of the several departments within the California Labor School. Common items include course syllabi and descriptions, departmental meeting minutes and correspondence, and course and event advertisements. Library bibliographies and reading suggestions are also of interest in this series.

    Box   1  
    Arts and Crafts,  1944-1950 (2 folders)
    Box   1  
    Children's Courses,  1945-1949
    Box   1  
    Dance,  1944-1950
    Box   1  
    Drama,  1944-1950
    Box   1  
    Journalism/Literature,  1944-1948
     
    Library
    Box   1  
    Book Requests/Correspondence,  1943-1947
    Box   1  
    Bibliographies,  1944-1947
     
    Miscellaneous Course Outlines
    Box   1  
    Spring,  1946
    Box   1  
    Course Outlines,  1946-1955
    Box   1  
    Music,  1944-1949 (2 folders)
    Box   1  
    Political Action,  1946-1948
    Box   1  
    Psychology/Philosophy,  1942-1950
    Box   1  
    Study Plans,  1945-1946
    Box   1  
    Veteran's Program,  1945-1949
    Box   1  
    Women and Social Progress,  1947
    Box   1  
    World History,  1944-1950
     
    Office Files,  1945-1955 [series]:

    Office Files, 1945-1955, is comprised of a wide range of material, almost exclusively created after 1950. During 1950 the central office began accumulating "office copies" of materials circulated within and sent out of the school. These files are chronologically organized by term, with a variety of items, such as administrative correspondence, class materials and descriptions, event flyers, school announcements, and financial records, found in each folder. A folder of financial information is the only material dated prior to 1950.

    Box   1  
    Financial Records,  1945-1950
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1950
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1950
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1950
    Box   1  
    Fall Term,  1950
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1951
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1951
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1951
    Box   1  
    Fall Term,  1951
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1952
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1952
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1952
    Box   1  
    Fall Term,  1952
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1953
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1953
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1953
    Box   1  
    Fall Term,  1953
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1954
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1954
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1954
    Box   1  
    Fall Term,  1954
    Box   1  
    Winter Term,  1955
    Box   1  
    Spring Term,  1955
    Box   1  
    Summer Term,  1955
     
    School Promotion,  1943-1950 [series]:

    The School Promotion, 1943-1950, series contains items advertising the California Labor School externally, including an extensive number of flyers announcing CLS events, such as speeches, parties, films, and sales. Also of note is a folder documenting the Christmas Market, an annual fund raising activity.

    Box   2  
    Christmas Market,  1943-1949
    Box   2  
    Correspondence,  1944-1950
    Box   2  
    Event Flyers,  1943-1950 (3 folders)
    Box   2  
    Fundraising Kit,  1947
    Box   2  
    Oakland/Berkeley Campus Promotion,  1944-1950
    Box   2  
    Press Releases and Ephemera,  1944-1948
     
    School Publications,  1943-1954 [series]:

    A folder of student newsletters and other writings reside in the School Publications, 1943-1955, series in addition to Press Releases and Ephemera.

    Box   2  
    Pamphlets,  1943-1954 (4 folders)
    Box   2  
    Student Publications,  1944-1948