Finding Aid for the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee Records, 1942-1945

Processed by Manuscripts Division staff; machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé and edited by Josh Fiala.
UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
Manuscripts Division
Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu
URL: http://www.library.ucla.edu/libraries/special/scweb/
© 1999
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee Records,
Date (inclusive): 1942-1945
Collection number: 107
Creator: Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Extent: 11 boxes (5.5 linear ft.) 2 oversize boxes
Abstract: The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (formerly the Citizen's Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth) formed in 1942 in reaction to the indictment of 22 young men for murder. 12 defendants were convicted of first degree murder. The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee raised funds to appeal the case and roused public opinion through education and publicity programs. In 1944 the original judgment was overturned. The collection contains correspondence, publications, publicity materials, radio scripts, office records, a transcript of the Sleepy Lagoon trial, and research materials including articles about Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Portions of the collection are in Spanish.
Language: English
Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
The donor of this collection has requested that patrons who refer to the material in it should be informed as follows:
Access to the material in the UCLA Library does not in any way grant rights for the use of the materials aside from scholarly purposes. It does not grant rights for the use of materials for book or article publication (except in recognized scholarly journals) or for stage performances, films for theatre or television or any other public or commercial presentation.
In order to use the material for stage, film, television or other public or commercial publication or presentation, in which real people are implied, even in dramatized form, there would have to be releases signed by the real people so implied, or their heirs... (Letter, Alice Greenfield McGrath to James V. Mink, August 15, 1978)
Materials in Boxes 1-12 are available on microfilm in the Department of Special Collections. Boxes 1-12 are not available for consultation due to fragile condition.
Collection may not be copied for publication except with the permission of Alice McGrath.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Alice Greenfield McGrath, 1945.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee Records (Collection 107). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

History

The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (first known as the Citizens' Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth) was organized in October 1942 in response to the indictment of 22 young men for murder; all defendants but one were Mexican American; 12 defendants were convicted of first degree murder by Superior Court of Los Angeles County; Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee raised funds for the appeal of the case and roused public opinion through education and publicity programs; judgments and decisions of the lower court were reversed by the District Court of Appeal of the state of California, 2nd Appellate District, October 4, 1944.

Additional Historical Narrative

In August 1942, 22 defendants, all Mexican Americans but one, were indicted by the grand jury of Los Angeles county for the murder of José Diaz, whose death occurred at a party on the Williams ranch in the city of Los Angeles near a little pond called the Sleepy Lagoon. 12 were convicted of first degree murder by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County; the case was appealed to the District Court of Appeal of the state of California, 2nd Appellate District, where the judgments and decisions of the lower court were reversed (October 4, 1944).
The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (first known as the Citizens' Committee for the Defense of Mexican-American Youth) was organized around October 1942, and dissolved January 1, 1945. It raised funds for the appeal of the boys' case and roused public opinion to their cause through an educational and publicity program. The Archive was transferred to the Library by Alice Greenfield, Executive Secretary of the committee, 1945.

Scope and Content

Collection contains correspondence, publications, publicity materials, radio scripts, office records, petitions, and research materials of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee. Research materials include articles about Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Also includes an article from Guy Endore. A transcript of the Sleepy Lagoon trial is also in the collection.
Portions of this collection are in Spanish.

Extended Scope and Content Note

Materials in the archive include the following categories:
  • a) Committee publicity
  • b) Publications
  • c) Correspondence
  • d) Office materials
  • e) Petitions
  • f) Materials concerning the defendants, including Guy Endore's article, from Hoy (August to September 1944)
  • g) Materials collected by the committee concerning the Mexican minority
  • h) Miscellaneous materials collected by the committee
  • i) Legal materials including a transcript of the appeal trial.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in the following series:
  1. Publicity.
  2. Publications.
  3. Correspondence.
  4. Office Materials and Records.
  5. Materials concerning defendants.
  6. Materials regarding minorities, especially Mexican minority problems in Los Angeles.
  7. Miscellaneous materials concerning minorities, labor, etc.
  8. Photographic plates and newspaper mats.
  9. Transcript of trial.
  10. Legal documents.
  11. Scrapbooks.
  12. Miscellaneous items.
Boxes 1-12 of the collection have been copied onto 8 reels of microfilm.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee.(Los Angeles, Calif.)--Archives.
Sleepy Lagoon Trial, Los Angeles, 1942-1943.
Mexican-American youth--California--Los Angeles.
Civil Rights--California--Los Angeles.
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Race relations.
McGrath, Alice Greenfield, 1917-.

Related Material

The Education of Alice McGrath [oral history transcript] / Alice Greenfield McGrath, interviewee. UCLA Oral History Department interview, 1987. [Call number: 300/269]. Available at Department of Special Collections, UCLA.
Alice Greenfield McGrath Papers ( Collection 1490  ). Available at the Department of Special Collections, UCLA.
S. Guy Endore Papers ( Collection 279  ). Available at the Department of Special Collections, UCLA.