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UFW Office of the President: Cesar Chavez Records

Identifier: LR000221

Scope and Content

The papers of the UFW, Office of the President reflect Cesar’s beginnings with the CSO and the formative years of NFWA, UFWOC and UFW as well as some milestones in his personal life.

Subjects covered in this collection include: AWOC International Brotherhood of Teamsters Boycotts California Migrant Ministry Mexican-American organizations California Rural Legal Assistance National Migrant Ministry Cesar Chavez’s fast Filipinos Chavez’s speaking engagements Salinas Strike Community Service Organization (CSO) Terronez Memorial Clinic DiGiorgio Company Texas farm workers El Malcriado UFW Executive Board Giumarra Company UFW Field Office Green Carders UFW Legal Department

Among the important correspondents are: Saul Alinsky; William Kircher; Steve Allen; Lane Kirkland; Leroy Chatfield; Eugene McCarthy; Jerry Cohen; George McGovern; Irwin DeShetler; George Meany; Marshall Ganz; Richard Nixon; Dolores Huerta; Gilbert Padilla; Larry Itliong; Ronald Reagan; Robert F. Kennedy; Walter P. Reuther; Coretta Scott King; Fred Ross; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Pete Velasco

Series Description: Part I Series 1, Cesar Chavez Files, 1951-1971 Correspondence, reports, diaries, memos and calendars pertaining to Cesar Chavez and his activities. In addition, some documents pre-date the UFW. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.

Series 2, Boycott Offices, 1968-1971

Series 3, General Correspondence Correspondence, memos, reports and other documents to, from and/or about individuals and entities that is not included in the Organization or Union series. All materials are from the files of the Office of the President and are arranged in alphabetical and chronological order.

Series 4, Organizations, 1966-1971 Correspondence, reports, fliers and memos generated by and/or sent to various non-union entities including community groups, civic organizations and churches. Materials are arranged alphabetically by group name.

Series 5, Unions (non-UFW), 1966-1971 Correspondence, reports and memos to and from the non-UFW unions and union related organizations with which the UFW interacted. Includes minutes, constitutions and agreements of some of the unions. Materials are arranged alphabetically by the name of the union.

Series 6, Telephone Logs, 16 March 1971-22 December 1971

Series 7, Clippings and other published materials Primarily 1968-1971 (some added, 1972-86): This series consists of clippings, leaflets, reports, newsletters and fliers collected by the Office of the President. Boxes 79 through 86 are devoted to clippings from 1968-71 with a few added from 1982-86. Box 87 contains leaflets and reports dated 1962-1971 with some added from the period 1972-1980. Box 88 contains clippings, newsletters and fliers from 1985 and 1986. All materials dated post 1971 were added because of their availability and relevancy to this collection. All materials are arranged by type and then in chronological order.
Part 2: Series Description: Series 1, General Subject Files Series 2, General Correspondence Series 3, Clipping Files
Part 3: Series Description Series 11, General files, 1963-2000 Series 12, Staff files, 1965-1996 Series 13, Chavez, 1965-1993 (Cesar Chavez files and correspondence) Series 14, Conventions, 1973-1989 (Mostly UFW Constitutional Conventions files) Series 15, Publications, 1967-2003 (UFW and UFW-related publications)


  • 1947 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1966 - 1998


Language of Materials

Material in English and Spanish.


Collection is open for research. To access Box 157, Folder 18 a restricted use form must be signed to prevent the use of individuals' names.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Box 157, Folder 18 is restricted. Use of individuals' names is prohibited.


The founder of the United Farm Workers union, Cesario Estrada Chavez, was born in 1927 on a family farm, which had been homesteaded by his grandfather in Arizona three years before that territory had achieved statehood.

Growing up during the depression, Cesar Chavez left school after the eighth grade to work full time in the fields. In 1938, his father and the family left Arizona to seek work in California. Along with his father and siblings, Chavez joined the migrant farm worker stream topping sugar beets, picking cotton, thinning lettuce with a short-handled hoe and picking grapes. They followed the crops from the Imperial Valley in the south to Sacramento in the north.

A turning point in Chavez’s life came with his meeting in 1952 with Fred Ross who was working in the Mexican-American barrio for the Community Services Organization (CSO). Cesar accepted a job as organizer for them. IT was here his organizing skills were honed under the tutelage of Ross and Saul Alinsky.

In 1958, Dolores Huerta, who was also working with the CSO, along with several others, formed the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA), which then melded with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) set up by the AFL-CIO the following year. In 1961, despite the urgings of Alinsky, the CSO voted not to support AWOC. Cesar Chavez resigned from CSO and set out to form his own union.

The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) was founded in 1961 at a convention called by Chavez. In 1965 AWOC struck the grape growers and Chavez jointed with his NFWA. That December marked the beginning of the first grape boycott.

In August 1966, AWOC and NFWA merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), AFL-CIO and the next three years were marked by membership drives, grape and lettuce strikes and boycotts.

In February of 1968, Chavez embarked on a 25-day fast to reinforce his commitment to non-violence as an integral part of his union’s philosophy.

In February 1972, the AFL-CIO granted UFWOC an independent charter as the United Farm Workers (UFW), the name that is formally adopted at their first constitutional convention held in Fresno, California in September 1973. In addition to approving their first constitution, UFW members elected by acclamation, a nine member board with Cesar Chavez as president.

The years since that humble beginning have been marked by many major successes. And, despite controversies about his political beliefs, his philosophy of life and his leadership tactics, Cesar Chavez remained the head of the union until his untimely death in 1993.


131 Linear Feet (88 MB, 87 SB)


Cesar Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association, later known as the United Farm Workers, in 1962 at a convention he called. Growing up a migrant farm worker he honed his skills as an organizer with the Community Services Organization in California before splitting with them to form the NFWA. He would serve as president of the UFW until his death in 1993. These records reflect Chavez's beginnings with the CSO and the formative years of the NFWA, United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, and the UFW as well as some milestones in his personal life.


Part 1: Arranged in 7 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-9), Series 2 (Boxes 10-20), Series 3 (Boxes 21-58), Series 4 (Boxes 59-70), Series 5 (Boxes 71-75), Series 6 (Boxes 76-78), and Series 7 (Boxes 79-88). Folders are arranged alphabetically or chronologically depending upon the series.
Part 2: Arranged in 3 series. Files are computer-arranged alphabetically.
Part 3: Arranged in 5 series. Files in each box are arranged in rough alphabetical order.

Series 11, General files Series 12, Staff files Series 13, Chavez Series 14, Conventions Series 15, Publications


The papers of the United Farm Workers, Office of the President Collection were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs beginning in 1967. Deposits of documents from this and other entitles of the Union have been made at regular intervals.

Related Materials

UFW collections Cesar E. Chavez Oral History Interview, Robert F. Kennedy Oral History Program, JFK Presidential Library. Transcript available online.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.


Guide to the UFW Office of the President: Cesar Chavez Records
Part 1 processed by Malvina Abonyi in 1986. Part 2 processed by Kathy Schmeling in 1995. Part 3 processed by Kathy Schmeling and completed by Shae Rafferty.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2023-03-20: Series in Part 2 were changed from I, II, and III to 8, 9, 10.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Ave.
Detroit MI 48202 USA