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Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee Collection, 1917-1942
MSS 055  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1917-1942
    Collection number: MSS 055
    Creator: Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee,

    Eliazer, Ralph H.
    Extent: 1 half-box and 1 oversize box

    1 linear foot
    Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
    Los Angeles, CA 90044
    Abstract: This collection consists primarily of pamphlets, posters and other printed materials created or collected by the Tom Mooney Molders Defense Committee, in their work to free Tom Mooney, a labor activist wrongfully convicted of bombing the 1916 Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco. There are also a small number of documents pertaining to Tom Mooney and his estate.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Provenance

    Donated to the Library on March 30, 1999, by Ralph Eliazer. His mother, Sara Eliazer, ran the Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee office in San Francisco.

    Access

    The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee Collection, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.

    Organizational History

    The Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee was founded to raise money and work for the release and pardon of Thomas J. Mooney, a member of the International Molders' Union, charged and convicted of bombing the 1916 Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco, July 22, 1916. The Parade had been organized by a right-wing, pro-war group, and was also being used to champion the anti-union, "open shop" system. Pro-union, pro-German and pro-Mexican groups and individuals protested the holding of the parade. Mooney had been spearheading an attempt to unionize the San Francisco street car lines, which were controlled by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company and other utility interests. Mooney and fellow defendant Warren Billings, both labor union activists, were tried for murder and convicted on the basis of the testimony of several contradictory witnesses. Mooney's wife, Rena Mooney, who was described by the same witnesses, was found innocent. Billings was sentenced to life in prison and Mooney was sentenced to death in 1917; the sentence was commuted to life after the intercession of President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Wilson had tried to get Mooney and Billings new trials after it became clear that Frank C. Oxman's testimony was perjured. Oxman was not even in San Francisco at the time of the bombing. Eventually all the witnesses' testimony was disproved.
    The Scripps-Howard newspaper chain championed Mooney's innocence in the twenties, and several defense committees sprang up around the country including the National Mooney-Billings Committee out of New York, and the Mooney Defense Committee of Southern California (Los Angeles). The Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee, headquartered in San Francisco, appears to have been the most active and radical of the committees. Besides calling for a pardon, the Defense Committee championed Mooney as a "Labor Martyr" and published exposés charging that California politicians had been buying union endorsements. The Defense Committee charged labor leaders with blocking the pardons of Mooney and Billings. In 1931 Billings asked that his name be removed from Mooney Defense Committee literature, especially those attacking labor leaders. He suggested letting the American Federation of Labor (AFofL) run the Defense Committee. The defense committees separated.
    The Defense Committee applied for pardons from each, successive governor of California. In the early 1930s the California Supreme Court reviewed the conviction and word was leaked that they had found in favor of Mooney and would recommend a pardon. The ruling was not released for over a year and ended up negative. In 1937, the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings into the Mooney case, and passed a resolution (S.J.Res. 127) asking Governor Frank. F. Merriam of California to grant Mooney a pardon. The House Judiciary Committee passed a similar resolution in 1938. Mooney was finally given a "full and unconditional pardon" by Governor Culbert L. Olson in 1939. Mooney died in a San Francisco hospital on March 6, 1942, just 3 years after his release, of gastric problems that were blamed on the poor food and medical treatment received in prison.
    Following Mooney's death, the Defense Committee (Sara Eliazer) oversaw the donation of Mooney's papers to the University of California and the distribution of duplicate pamphlets and books to Columbia, the Library of Congress and other institutions around the country. Roger Baldwin of the American Civil Liberties Union was part of this process.

    Scope and Content

    This collection consists mainly of pamphlets, posters and other printed materials pertaining to the Preparedness Day Parade bombing, Tom Mooney and the Tom Mooney Molders' Defense Committee. The non-published documents consist of some correspondence, a few photographs (of Mooney and of Sara Eliazer), a copy of the Governor's pardon, and the deed for Mooney's burial plot. Some of the materials were signed by Tom Mooney, during his imprisonment, with both his name and his prisoner identification number. Of special interest are the posters. One includes a poem dedicated to Mooney and the other several photographs. Both are signed by Mooney.

    Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

    Title: Tom Mooney, by Theodore Drieser,
    Date (inclusive): n.d.,
    Location: Pamphlet Collection
    Title: Capital in Lithographs, Lithographs by Karl Marx, illustrated by Hugo Gellert, New York: Ray Long and Richard R. Smith,
    Date (inclusive): 1934.

    Note

    Inscribed by Tom Mooney, with an extensive note to Alice Barnsdall, March 12, 1936, also later autographed by illustrator to Alice McGrath (donor).
    Location: Rare Books Collection
    Longshoremen and Mooney,
    Title:
    Date: 1938,
    Physical Description: silent, b&w, 8 minutes,
    Location: Film Collection [SCL Videotape 1]
    Tom Mooney in San Francisco,
    Title:
    Date: 1938,
    Physical Description: silent, b&w, 15 minutes,
    Location: Film Collection [SCL Videotape 2]
    Tom Mooney in Los Angeles,
    Title:
    Date: 1938,
    Physical Description: silent, b&w,
    Location: Film Collection [SCL Videotape 2]
    Tom Mooney Rallies from 1930s,
    Title:
    Date: 1938,
    Physical Description: silent, b&w, 10 minutes,
    Location: Film Collection [SCL Videotape 2]