University of Texas Arlington

Fred H. Schmidt Papers:

A Guide



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Schmidt, Fred H., 1918-
Title: Fred H. Schmidt Papers
Dates: 1887-1974
1937-1974
Abstract: Fred H. Schmidt worked as a representative for the Oil Workers International Union and was executive secretary of the Texas State CIO Council, 1955-1957. When the council merged with the Texas State Federation of Labor in July 1957, he became secretary-treasurer of the merged organization, the Texas-AFL-CIO, and served in that position, 1957-1961. In later years, Schmidt was a professor, researcher, and writer for the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California in Los Angeles. Fred Schmidt described himself as a social democrat and is considered to be one of the intellectuals in the labor movement. Papers contain correspondence, newsletters, photographs, minutes, booklets, reports, and newspaper clippings. Also included are a copy of The Atlanta Constitution, July 29, 1891; a 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.
Identification: AR296
Extent: 2 boxes (1.0 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Biographical note

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.

Sources:

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).


Scope and Contents

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.


Organization

Series I. Kentucky Years, 1940-1942 (1 folder)
Series II. Texas Years, 1949-1963 (14 folders)
Series III. California Years, 1963-1974 (9 folders)
Series IV. Texas and California Years, 1948-1974 (1 folder)
Series V. Historical Labor Document Collection, 1887-1937 (1 folder)

Restrictions

Access

Open for research.


Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Persons
Schmidt, Fred H.--Archives.
Brown, H. S.--Biography--Sources.
Organizations
Texas AFL-CIO--Employees--History--Sources.
Oil Workers International Union--History--Sources.
Textile Workers Union of America--History--Sources.
Subjects
Labor leaders--Texas--History--Sources.
Labor unions--Organizing--Texas--History--Sources.
Labor unions--Organizing--Kentucky--History--Sources.
Agricultural laborers--Labor unions--Texas--History--Sources.
Alternate Titles
Texas Labor Archives

Related Material

The UTA Libraries Oral History Collection also contains a transcribed interview with Fred H. Schmidt.


Administrative Information

Provenance

Gift of Fred H. Schmidt, August 1988.

Citation

Fred H. Schmidt Papers, AR296, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.


Administrative Information

Grant Support

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.


Container List

Series I. Kentucky Years, 1940-1942

Box Folder
1 1 Years in Louisville,Ky., 1940-1942
Papers of Textile Workers International Union: 16 mimeographed flyers announcing union organizational meetings, 19 issues Bradford Workers Bulletin, one issue of Textile Times.



Series II. Texas Years, 1949-1963

Box Folder
1 2 Texas Years--Dallas, 1949-1956
(10 items)
Correspondence to Fred Schmidt.
3 Texas Years--Dallas, 1949-1956
(2 items)
Correspondence from Fred Schmidt.
4 Texas Years--Dallas, 1949-1956
(5 items)
Three confidential reports concerning Oil and Chemical Workers Union, two photos of Super Cold Commercial Refrigeration strike.
5-7 Texas Years--Austin, 1957-1961
Issues of the Texas State AFL-CIO News.
8 Texas Years--Austin, Speeches and Reports, 1957-1961
Speeches, reports, and audit reports for the Texas AFL-CIO.
9 Texas Years--Austin, 1961
Fred Schmidt--H. S. Brown fight for control of Texas AFL-CIO.
10-11 Texas Years--Austin, 1957-1962
Council reports of Texas State AFL-CIO.
12 Texas Years--Austin, 1957-1963
Correspondence to Fred H. Schmidt.
13 Texas Years--Austin, 1957-1962
(9 items)
Correspondence from Fred H. Schmidt, letters to Lyndon B. Johnson, Dr. George C. Hester, H. S. Brown.
14-15 Texas Years--Austin, 1955-1962
(28 items)
Newspaper articles, leaflet, minutes, reports, calendar, newsletters, speeches



Series III. California Years, 1963-1974

Box Folder
2 1-4 California Years, 1963-1974
(21 items)
Writings by Fred H. Schmidt for UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations. Spanish Surnamed American Employment in the Southwest; After the Bracero
5-7 California Years, 1963-1974
(35 items)
Writings by others quoting or mentioning the work of Fred H. Schmidt.
8-9 California Years, 1963-1974
(41 items)
Newspaper clippings, workshop summary Writings by others not directly connected with Fred H. Schmidt.



Series IV. Texas and California Years

Box Folder
2 10 Texas and California Years, 1948-1974 1948-1974
(7 items)
Memorabilia, includes Dictaphone disk of Labor Day speech for 1955.



Series V. Historical Labor Document Collection, 1887-1937

Box Folder
2 11 Historical documents on labor in Texas from the collection of Dr. Ruth Allen, 1887-1900, 1937