Biographical Information on Morris Evenson and Dow Wilson
Scope and Content
Title: Morris R. Evenson Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1942 - 1988
Date (bulk): (Bulk: 1960 - 1987)
Accession number: 1988/062; 1987/056; 1985/027; 1991/06
Evenson, Morris R.
Extent: 3.5 cubic feet
San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center
San Francisco, California 94132
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Center's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives & Research Center. All requests for
permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing
to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of the Labor Archives & Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Morris R. Evenson Papers, 1988/062; 1987/056; 1985/027; 1991/06, Labor Archives & Research Center,
San Francisco State University.
The Archives has brought together four separate donations to the Labor Archives and Research Center. Two donations by Morris
Evenson consisted of newspapers and periodicals. After his death in 1988, his widow Jill Evenson donated his personal papers
and a cloth banner from Local Union 1158 of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers, dated 1937. Morris Evenson
was a member of the Painters Union, served as an elected official, and, as a retiree, was active in rank-and-file activity.
He was a close associate of Dow Wilson, the Painters Union leader who was assassinated in 1966. This association was to have
a strong impact on Evenson's career. A significant part of these papers records Wilson's career as well. This collection was
processed by Carol Cuenod in 1997.
Biographical Information on Morris Evenson and Dow Wilson
I. Morris Evenson
Evenson was born in Wisconsin in 1920, but spent his childhood school years in St. Paul, Minnesota. He dropped out of school
in the ninth grade. Later he wrote, "It took both his hands to count the unions he had been a member of--Teamos, Seamen, Electrical
(Workers) in a radio factory, a busboy in the Culinary Workers, a switchman in the Railroad Brotherhood, a coffin maker in
the Carpenters Union, and a plastic molder in the Machinists..."
and the Painters Union. He claimed that it was his life as a merchant seaman in the National Maritime Union (NMU) which continued
his education, teaching him about unions and different political points of view.
It was as a merchant seaman in the NMU that he served his country during World War II. By 1948, Evenson had identified himself
with the "left-wingers" in the Union, and became a victim of the purge of communists and their sympathizers by NMU President
Joseph Curran. He was in New Orleans when he was "brought up on charges and expelled" from the union.
Evenson moved to San Francisco in 1948 and, in 1952, joined the Painters Union Local 1158.
Evenson was elected Business Representative of Painters Union Local 1158 in 1961. He also became a member of a rank-and-file
caucus working to amalgamate the two separate locals in San Francisco--Local 1158 and Local 19. This was accomplished in 1963
forming Painters Local Union 4--the largest Painters Local in the country. Evenson was elected its first Business Representative.
When Wilson was assassinated in 1966, Evenson stepped in to continue Wilson's work as Local 4 Recording Secretary. He was
also elected a trustee of the Bay Area Painters Trust Funds and served for 10 years as its chairman.
As a pensioner, Evenson focused his attention on the Bay Area Painters Trust Funds and also published a newsletter called
The Rank and File Voice. Evenson's papers offer brief glimpses of his interests outside the Union through his correspondence,
news clippings about his friends, and many "Letters to the Editor" published in the San Francisco Examiner, Chronicle, and
1. Morris Evenson,
The Brotherhood of Blood, p. 28
2. Ibid., p.27
3. Ibid., p.28
II. Dow Wilson
Dow Wilson's life had many parallels with Evenson. He was born in 1926 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Like Evenson, his formal education
ended in the ninth grade. In 1942, at age 16, he also went to sea as a member of the National Maritime Union. Like Evenson,
he was charged by the NMU leadership of being a communist; however, he successfully fought the charges while acting as his
own attorney. Wilson left the NMU in the early 1950s, became a house painter and a member of Painters Union Local 19 in San
Francisco. Wilson and Evenson had known about each other in the NMU, but did not meet until they became union brothers in
the San Francisco Painters locals. Wilson was elected a business representative in Local 19 and was also in the caucus working
for the amalgamation of the two painters locals. When the amalgamated local was chartered, Wilson was elected the first Local
4 Recording Secretary--the Local's most important officer.
Dow Wilson was assassinated three years later. A month later, Lloyd Green, an official of the Painters Union Local 127 in
the East Bay, was also killed. A significant motive for these assassinations was the fight waged by Wilson and his supporters
against the misuse and embezzlement of the Painters Union Trust Funds. Evenson was elected to replace Wilson during the period
of turmoil and fear following the deaths of Wilson and Green.
Scope and Content
In addition to manuscripts and documents generated by Morris Evenson himself, the collection contains a large amount of originals
or copies of the Bay Area Painters Union records covering the years when Evenson was an official and during his retirement.
These were documents which Evenson felt were important enough to copy and keep. The attached Series Description sets forth
the arrangement of the Collection.
Series I is where researchers will find biographical material on Evenson, his personal interests outside the Painters Union,
and his friends. Other descriptions of his early life can be found in Series III in the manuscript of the novel he wrote about
Dow Wilson's assassination.
Series II begins the Collection's holdings of the Painters Union material. There are three folders titled "Bay Area Painters
- General" which hold correspondence, material on the Locals' elections, circulating letters to the membership, copies of
news articles about the Union, and political activity. The file covering the years 1958 - 1964 includes correspondence written
by Dow Wilson which will give researchers an insight to his unique and often bombastic writing style. Other folders have subject
headings which include Negotiations, Bylaws, Constitutions and Agreements, but the documents do not constitute a comprehensive
collection on these subjects. Researchers interested in Painters Union negotiations however will find a full, detailed description
of collective bargaining for painters in the San Francisco Bay Area as provided by Wilson as part of his defense testimony
(Int'l Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades (IBPAT) Hearing, 11/10- 11/65, Series V).
Evenson's association with Dow Wilson is well documented in Series III. There is a manuscript written by Evenson titled The
Brotherhood of Blood and Allied Crimes which, in fiction form, tells the story of Wilson's life and the men responsible for
his murder. Carl Black and Max Ward were brought to trial for the killing of Wilson and Green. Series III includes the trial
transcript as well as notes taken by Evenson during that trial. The front-page newspaper articles on the assassinations reports
the fear and outrage which San Francisco labor expressed after these killings.
Series IV Bay Area Painters Trust Funds documents Evenson's fight for honest administration of these Funds and his efforts
to improve members' benefits under them. There are several folders documenting a case file on Douglas Page, a Trust Fund attorney,
whom Evenson accused of illegally signing Trustees' names and notarizing them. Although a serious heart attack forced Evenson
to retire, he continued to pursue the same goal--a strong voice for "rank and file" activity.
Series V holds a run of The Rank and File Voice (1986 - 1987) which Evenson published as well as the records generated in
its publication--drafts of articles, cartoons, a collection of publications from the League for Industrial Democracy, a group
which fought corruption in unions. There are flyers from different "rank and file" groups in Local 4 and other unions.
The most complete part of this collection is in Series VI Publications. Here can be found the Local's newspapers which Evenson
prepared for deposit in the Archives. Researchers will find them useful in identifying the date, place and event not always
fully stated in the other documents. The Bay Area Painters News runs from 1965 to 1970; THE VOICE of Painters, Tapers and
Paperhangers starts with Volume 1 in 1970 through 1987. This series also has convention proceedings of the California State
Conference of Painters from 1956 to 1965 and a few publications from the IBPAT.
As noted in the introduction, the Archives has the banner from Local 1158, Evenson's first Local when he joined the Painters
Union in San Francisco.
For additional sources in the Labor Archives on Morris Evenson and the Bay Area Painters Union, see also:
Organized Labor, columns on Painters Locals "Painters News - Local 19," by Dow Wilson, mid-1955 to 7/22/63
"1158 Painters," by Morris Evenson, 1/14/63 to 7/22/63
"Painters News - Local 4," by Dow Wilson, 8/12/63 - 10/11/65
- Morris Evenson Photograph Collection
- For additional sources in the Labor Archives on Dow Wilson, see also: Ephemera Files, "Individuals - Wilson, Dow"
4. news subsequently reported in newly-published Bay Area Painters News.