Fred H. Schmidt Papers:
Fred H. Schmidt was born in Cuero, Texas, on March 7, 1918, and lived in that city and in San Antonio until he entered college. He attended Austin College at Sherman, Texas, for two years and completed his formal education at the University of Texas. He took a year of graduate work in economics. It was at UT-Austin that Schmidt came under the influence of Dr. Ruth Allen, a professor and longtime proponent of labor unions. In 1940, Schmidt joined the Textile Workers International Union and became an international representative and organizer with that union. He entered the Army in 1942, winding up his three and one-half years of service, which included service in the Philippines, as a master sergeant.
In 1963, Schmidt became a professor, researcher, and writer in the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles. There he conducted studies of the plight of Mexican farm workers in the Southwestern United States. He is the author of Spanish Surnamed American Employment in the Southwest for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, along with many other reports and studies on labor and manpower, including After the Bracero: An Inquiry into the Problems of Farm Labor Recruitment. He retired from the UCLA faculty in 1974 and did volunteer organizational work for Caesar Chavez' Grape Pickers Union.
Schmidt has described himself as a Social Democrat and has acknowledged having been a radical, especially when he was a young labor organizer. "I was a radical," Schmidt wrote to University of Texas at Arlington History Professor George N. Green in 1988. "I believed in the class struggle and do now. The labor movement was a cause worth giving everything to, and it didn't matter a damn whether one was paid to do so or not. There was happiness in the doing."
Schmidt returned to Texas in 1974 and settled at Fredericksburg.
Texas State AFL-CIO news release, circa 1960;
Letter from Fred H. Schmidt to George N. Green dated June 15, 1988;
Telephone interview with Fred H. Schmidt, May 10, 1990 (See: "Biographical Information" Box 1).
Papers contain correspondence; newsletters; photographs; minutes; booklets; reports; newspaper clippings; the Atlanta Constitution, July 29, 1891; quarterly report of the Galveston Building Trades Assembly, 1900; organizer's receipts, 1887; and the National Labor Relations Board decision concerning the Ford Motor Company versus United Automobile Workers, 1940.
The Fred H. Schmidt Papers contain documents from three distinct periods in Schmidt's career: (1) his organizational work in the Louisville, Kentucky, area for the Textile Workers International Union before World War II; (2) his years in Texas as an international representative for the Oil Workers International Union and later as an official of the Texas State AFL-CIO; and (3) his years as researcher and writer at the University of California at Los Angeles. The collection primarily pertains to labor union activity in Texas. Documents include correspondence and newspaper clippings related to a 1961 power struggle within the Texas State AFL-CIO in which Schmidt and H. S. Brown fought for control. Brown won the struggle, and Schmidt soon left Texas for California. Accounts of the Schmidt-Brown confrontation are in Box 1, Folder 9.
The scheme for arrangement follows the chronology of Schmidt's career, with emphasis on the Texas years since documents of many types--correspondence, flyers, newsletters, newspapers, annual reports, news clippings--abound in this period. Much of the material, however, is peripheral: union newspaper accounts of community promotions and other public relations projects. The writing ability of Schmidt is best reflected in his speeches during the Texas years; copies of several of these speeches are included in the collection. Materials from the California years consist almost exclusively of Schmidt's published works and the popular reactions to them.
The only items not contemporaneous with the Schmidt career are several historical documents on union activity in Texas, which Schmidt acknowledges were a gift from his teacher, Dr. Ruth Allen. These items are contained in the last folder of the collection, Box 2, Folder 11. Several pamphlets and clippings that have no direct connection with Schmidt are retained in the collection since they apparently represent either source material for speeches or writings or contained reports of special labor cases in which Schmidt was interested. Most of these are contained in Box 2, Folders 8 and 9.
Open for research.
Gift of Fred H. Schmidt, August 1988.
Fred H. Schmidt Papers, AR296, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.
The retrospective updating and conversion of this finding aid was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Special Collections "Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records" project, 2014-2015.