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Collection Number: 04642

Collection Title: Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 27.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 4000 items)
Abstract Clyde Johnson was a union organizer, business agent, and writer. The collection includes scrapbooks, clippings, correspondence, manuscript books, interviews, and other items concerning Clyde Johnson's involvement with various unions, most affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Included are materials related to organizing campaigns and strikes conducted by Johnson for the Sharecroppers' Union in Alabama, 1935-1937; the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America in Colorado and Texas, 1937-1941; and the Oil Workers' International Union in Texas, especially in Baytown, 1941-1943. There are also many items concerning the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 550, Oakland, Cal., for which Johnson was business agent from 1961 to 1966; a few personal letters to Johnson and his wife Anne; tapes of interviews with Johnson; and manuscript drafts of Johnson's books, Organize or Die and Millmen 550.
Creator Johnson, Clyde, b. 1908.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
Boxes 2 and 9 are available for use. Other boxs are unprocessed. No listening copies available for audiotapes.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Clyde Johnson papers #4642, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Clyde Johnson of Berkeley, April and June 1993; Robin D.G. Kelley of Ann Arbor, Mich., in January 1993; Dale Rosengarten of McClellanville, S.C., in May 1993 (Acc. 93064); from Sinobu Uesugi of Japan in November 1993 (Acc. 93139); and Jonathan Gold of Berkeley, Cal., in February 1996 (Acc. 96019).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Clyde Johnson was born in 1908 in Proctor, Minn., a railroad town outside Duluth. In 1929, after Johnson had completed two years of junior college, layoffs preceding the Great Depression sent him east in search of work. He was hired by the Western Electric Company of New Jersey as a junior engineer. He also attended night classes at the City College of New York, where he joined the National Student League and was elected an organizer. He took part in four college strikes in 1932 and 1933, at City College, Columbia, New York University, and City College again, after which he was expelled from City College. He went to Rome, Ga., in 1933 in response to a student request to help organize a strike at the Martha Berry School. While there, he also advised striking stove foundry workers. In Atlanta, he organized advocacy councils for the unemployed; in Birmingham, Ala., in 1934, he worked with steel workers, coal miners, and ore miners. He became an organizer for the Sharecroppers' Union (SCU) in central Alabama in 1935, the year of a cotton pickers' strike. During this period, he also married Leah Anne Agron, whom he had met in Atlanta.

In 1937, the Congress of Industrial Organizations chartered a national union for agricultural and cannery workers. Johnson became an international vice president of this union. As such, he organized and led strikes of beet workers in Colorado and pecan shellers in Texas. He resigned from this post in 1941, when the CIO set up an Oil Workers' Organizing Campaign and hired Johnson as its Southern director. By the end of 1943, the staff had won bargaining rights at seven of the eight refineries targeted in southeast Texas, and Johnson resigned to join the Merchant Marine.

After World War II, Johnson was hired as business agent by Local 610 of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers in Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1948, Local 610 played a key role in the defeat of a Republican congressman, a member of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. Johnson and Local 610 also led a campaign in support of Henry Wallace for president.

In 1950, Johnson moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for some time as a house carpenter before moving to Oakland, Cal., in 1955. There he joined Local 550 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, becoming business agent in 1960. In 1966, he retired from this position and spent the next two years researching and writing Organize or Die: Smash Boss Unionism--Build Union Power, Organize Two Million Carpenters and Woodworkers , a book intended as "a criticism of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the failures of the Hutcheson Dynasty." He also wrote Millmen 550: A History of the Militant Years (1961-1966) of Local 550 United Brotherhood of Carpenters , which relates to his activities as business agent of the local during those years.

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Note that materials have been maintained, for the most part, in the order in which they were received and that the descriptions below in no way show all the materials that boxes may contain.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990.

Box 1, 3-8

Newspaper clippings, reports, studies, business correspondence, and other items pertaining to Clyde Johnson's involvement with various unions, including the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (Boxes 1-3) and the Oil Workers' International Union (Box 3). Also included are files of clippings and other materials pertaining to the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California (Box 4), and a few personal letters addressed to Johnson and his wife Anne (Box 8). #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 1, 3-8

Box 2

Share Croppers' Union clippings, circa 1932-1933 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Photocopies from various newspapers.

Mill and cabinet work employer/employee agreements, 1935-1352 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Louisiana papers, 1936-1947 and undated #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Various documents relating to organizing in Louisiana. Topics include Saint Landry Farm in Saint Landry Parish, La.; resettlement; farm tenancy; incidents of retalition on union members. Included are letters from Gordon McIntire to Clyde Johnson, mimeographed statements and documents distributed by unions, correspondence between Johnson and other union organizations, and clippings.

Share Croppers Union material, circa 1937-1943 and undated #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Scattered documents of various dates including a statement from a unidentified high school teacher in Louisiana; carbon copy of a 1937 letter from the executive secretary of the American Association for Social Security to Benjamin C. Marsh of the People's Lobby about the protection of farmers under the Social Security Act; statement by Benjamin C. Marsh about the Farmers' Security Corporation bill; typescript notes on agriculture in Ohio; blank letterhead for various union organizations; blank applications for the Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America; and clippings about tenant farming primarly dated 1937.

Sugar beet industry reports, 1939 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

"United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America report to the delegates of the third national convention," December 1940 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Mimeographed report.

Materials relating to Harry J. Davenport's 1948 campaign for United States Congress #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Labor Journal clippings, 1961-1965 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Correspondence and related materials about Millmens' Unit 550, circa 1964-1972 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Clippings, flyers, and other printed materials about United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, circa 1966 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

"Bogalusa Murders" #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Notebook, dated 1970, with handwritten notes possibly describing events that occured in 1919.

"The financial history of Great Western Sugar Co.," undated #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Mimeographed report.

"North of 66," undated #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Publication by C.E. Hazard, Labor Relations Representative, Farm Security Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

Southern Farm Leader, 1936-1937 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Louisiana Famers Union News, 1937-1940 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

C.I.O. Campaigner, Goose Creek, Tex., 1942 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

610 News, 1946-1948 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

2 folders

The Worker, 1959 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

Clippings, 1966-1971 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 2

6 folders

Primarily from California newspapers and relating to industrial and mobile housing.

Box 9

Scrapbook: Alabama, 1931-1935 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Primarily clippings and printed materials relating to the Share Croppers Union and organizing in Alabama. There is some correspondence and a few statements written by the unions and union members scattered throughout. Also included are issues of "The Union Leader" newsletter.

Scrapbook: Alabama, 1936-1937 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Primarily letters to Clyde Johnson from union members sending dues and reporting on conditions. There are also letters to and from Johnson about union business.

Scrapbook: Alabama, 1937-1938 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Primarily letters to Clyde Johnson from union members sending dues and reporting on conditions. There are also letters to and from Johnson about union business.

Scrapbook: Louisiana, 1936-1938 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Contains correspondence, including letters from organizer Gordon McIntire, mimeographed documents created by the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, and other documents relating to organizing in Louisiana.

Scrapbook: Louisiana, 1938-1956 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Contains correspondence, including letters from organizer Gordon McIntire, issues of "Louisiana Farmers Union News," mimeographed documents created by the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, and other documents relating to organizing in Louisiana.

The 1942 Texas City Oil Workers Campaign #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Article by Clyde Johnson.

Pecan workers strike and CIO organizing in Texas, 1941 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Bound volume of documents; primarily flyers, pamphlets, and photocopies of correspondence.

A brief history of the Share Croppers Union, Alabama-Louisiana, 1931-1941 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

By Clyde Johnson.

Millmen's Union No. 550 publications #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Millmen's 550: Drafts #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

By Clyde Johnson.

Transcript of a 1977 interview with Dale Rosengarten, concerning Johnson's recollections of living in Birmingham, Ala. #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Also includes correspondence between Rosengarten and Johnson, 1969, about Johnson's organizing work in Alabama.

Rosengarten, Dale. "The Alabama Share Croppers Union," 1969 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Honors essay, Radcliffe College.

Philliou, Jim: Honors thesis about Clyde Johnson, 1984 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Dyson, Lowell K.: Article offprints #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 9

Box 10-12

Box 10

Box 11

Box 12

Scrapbooks, manuscripts, and other materials pertaining to Johnson's work as an organizer for the CIO, especially in the Oil Workers' Organizing Campaign in southeast Texas, 1941-1943. #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 10-12

Also included (in Box 10) are a few materials relating to Johnson's involvement with the National Maritime Union of America (NMU), and with the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA), for whom he organized beet workers in Colorado and pecan shellers in southwest Texas.

Box 13

Scrapbooks of clippings and correspondence, studies, legislation, and other items pertaining to the timber industry of the Pacific Northwest and to housing development in California #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 13

Box 14-16

Box 14

Box 15

Box 16

Materials pertaining to Johnson's involvement with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC), Local 550, Oakland, Cal. #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 14-16

Included are scrapbooks of clippings and flyers, newletters, standardized mill agreements, and policies and procedures of Local 550. Also included are drafts of Millmen 550, Johnson's book on his tenure as business agent for the local, and printed copies of Millmen 550 and Organize or Die.

Box 17

Scrapbooks of clippings and other items pertaining to the civil rights movement and to the racial integration of various organizations #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 17

Includes several San Francisco area locals of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

Box 18

Appointment calendars, photographs, badges, and other miscellaneous items #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 18

Includes an undated photocopy of Johnson's reminiscences of his early life compiled for his grandchildren, a photocopy of Johnson's reminiscences of his work with oil workers in Texas and Oklahoma, and a photocopy of "Breaking Down the Ivory Tower: Recollections of Nine Student Radicals from the 1930s, a senior thesis written by Robert F. Pogue at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1991."

Box 19

Cassettes of interviews conducted by Robin D.G. Kelley with Clyde Johnson, Lemon Johnson, and Charles Smith #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 19

Also included are a letter, 10 April 1989, from Clyde Johnson to Robin Kelley and a draft of Johnson's manuscript "The Battle for Baytown," which concerns the Texas Oil Workers' Organizing Campaign of 1941-43.

Box 20

Tapes of interviews conducted by Dale Rosengarten with Clyde Johnson #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 20

Box 21

Tapes of interviews with Clyde Johnson, 1982-1992, received from Shinobu Uesugi of Japan #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 21

Box 22

Tapes (30 cassettes) of interviews with Clyde Johnson, 1982 #04642, Series: "Clyde Johnson Papers, 1930-1990." Box 22

Also included are a few handwritten notes on the interviews.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Hollingsworth, June 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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