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Guide to the Anne Draper Papers, 1938-1973
Special Collections M0228  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Anne Draper Papers reflect Draper's work as a trade union organizer, writer, and champion of the rights of farm workers. The collection is divided into five series, the contents and arrangement of which are described below.
Background
Active throughout her life in union activities, Anne Draper achieved prominence in the 1960s as a California leader of various labor, feminist and peace movements. The Delano Grape Strike (1965-1967) gave her the opportunity to demonstrate her support for the farm workers organizing in the San Joaquin Valley. In December, 1965, Draper organized the first Food Caravan to Delano, and by January, 1966, she chaired the San Francisco Labor Council Delano Striker's Aid Committee. In the late 1960s, Draper joined in the broader critique of American society espoused by radical political movements. By then an avowed "revolutionary Marxist and Independent Socialist," she founded the Labor Assembly for Peace, a trade unionist group opposed to the Vietnam War, and Union W.A.G.E. (Women's Alliance to Gain Equity), a militant women's rights group. Despite the acclaim she received --Cesar Chavez called her "an example of what a true unionist should be" --Draper never gained national recognition. This was in part due to her untimely death at age fifty-six in 1973, but it was also true that national leadership in union work was not yet open to women. Anne Pauline Draper, nee Kracik, was born in New York City on March 4, 1917, to Polish and Ukrainian parents. Unionism was a family tradition: in the early 1900s, her father was a volunteer organizer of New York window washers. Draper spent part of her childhood in Westbury, Long Island, but in her teens she returned to New York City to attend Washington Irving High School and Hunter College. She put herself through college, working four hours a night, six nights a week as a sales clerk at Woolworth's, and she graduated from Hunter College in January, 1938, with a major in mathematics and economics. She also studied languages, music and dance, and earned a prominent place on the debate team. Draper's first job was with the Steel Worker's Organizing Committee in northern New Jersey as a secretary and organizer. In a 1958 letter to Carmen Lucia, Vice-President of the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers Union, Draper fondly remembered the late 1930s: "[It] was almost a different social era and the best in the labor movement was coming to the top pushed by the militancy of the ranks." (Box 1, folder 2) From 1938 to 1942, Draper attended graduate courses in business, finance and commercial law at the American Institute of Banking, New York City, and studied school administration at Hunter College and English at New York University. She financed her education by editorial, research and general secretarial work at the American Bankers' Association and also helped to edit the American Institute of Banking Bulletin. During this time she was a member of the New York Local Office Workers. Draper moved to San Pedro, California in 1942, where she worked at Todd Shipyards as a welder for the duration of World War II and joined the Shipyard Workers Union. On November 3, 1945, Draper was arrested on charges of disturbing a meeting held by Gerald L. K. Smith (the American Firster and populist), where mass picketing took place. Her case was tried in Los Angeles Municipal Court, and the jury dismissed the charge. After the war, Draper became the Los Angeles local secretary, organizer and delegate to the Los Angeles Council of the American Federation of Labor for the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International union. She organized non-union shops, conducted strikes and negotiated contracts. In 1948, her success brought her a position on the United Hatters International staff in New York City. There she became involved in education, publicity and research, and began writing a weekly radio script entitled "Here Is Labor." From 1949 to 1958, Draper was organizer and representative of the New York Joint Board of the Millinery Workers Union. During these years she was also active in the New York Liberal Party, under the leadership of David Dubinsky and Alex Rose. In 1958, Draper's husband, Hal, a socialist theorist and writer, developed health problems that required a milder climate. After traveling in Europe, the couple moved to Oakland, California. The next two years were restless ones for Anne. While Hal became a librarian at the University of California at Berkeley, Anne was unable to gain entry in what appeared to be a male-dominated domain --west-coast union work. After almost two years of frustration, Draper became West Coast Union Labor Director for the 400,000-member Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA), AFL-CIO. One of only four women in the country to serve as a regional director, Draper retained this position until the end of her life. Reporters commented on her powerful platform personality at union conventions, where she frequently spoke. She organized boycotts and union label publicity, involving even California Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey in her campaigns. By the mid-1960s, as awareness of women's issues grew, feature editors began to comment on Draper's activities, although they were always quick to stress her feminine appearance and her effort to add the "woman's touch" by wearing union label dresses and hats (she was never photographed without a hat). But ACWA Vice-President Louis Hollander recognized the importance of such union label work, stating in an interview that the union label is linked to workers' political education and is a decisive factor in protecting hard-won union wages and working conditions. Draper's work for the ACWA did not absorb all her time. Immediately upon her arrival in California in 1958 she began doing publicity for the Socialist Party, using her national connections to build up its Berkeley branch and becoming an executive board member of the same. Her interest in the farm labor movement was aroused soon thereafter, when a short-term job as research economist with the California Federation of Labor alerted her to the harsh conditions faced by agricultural workers, particularly women and minors. At a 1959 meeting of the California Industrial Welfare Commission, Draper presented her findings. Draper lost no time in researching virtually every aspect of the farm workers' struggle. Her highly-organized filing system contained data on wages, productivity, and farm labor conditions (see, for instance, Series IV). By 1960 she was research director for the California Citizens Committee for Agricultural Labor. For the next decade she continued to testify before the Industrial Welfare Commission. She spoke throughout the western United States on behalf of the Delano Grape Strike and United Farm Worker boycotts. In Delano, Draper was known as "the favorite daughter of the Strike." Her constant encouragement and organization of the Food Caravan had earned the admiration of Chavez and other migrant worker leaders. From 1964 to 1972 Draper prepared weekly radio commentaries for Berkeley radio station KPFA. She also published numerous articles for the labor press and community newspapers. Together with her husband, Draper wrote a thirty-two page pamphlet entitled "The Dirt on California: Agribusiness and the University" (Independent Socialist Clubs of America, 1968). By 1967, her activism had expanded to encompass peace and feminist issues. In addition to helping to found the Labor Assembly for Peace and Union W.A.G.E., she continued to lecture and write. With Herma Hill Kay, a law professor at U.C. Berkeley, she taught a class on women and the law at the Wright Institute. Anne Draper died on March 25, 1973.
Extent
11.25 linear ft.
Restrictions
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Availability
None.