The Benson Latin American Collection

Clemente N. Idar Papers, 1875-1938 (bulk 1905-1934)

Descriptive Summary

Creator Idar, Clemente N.
Title Clemente N. Idar Papers
Dates: 1875-1938 (bulk 1905-1934)
Abstract Correspondence, written works, legal and financial documents, photos, and printed material document the life and career of Mexican American labor organizer Clemente Idar (1883-1934).
Accession No. 2005-12
OCLC Record No. N/A
Extent 6 linear feet
Language Spanish and English
Repository Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Clemente Nicasio Idar, American Federation of Labor (AFL) organizer, writer, and orator, was born in Laredo, Texas on November 11, 1883. As the first Mexican American organizer in the mainstream labor movement, Idar fought to improve wages and working conditions for Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the United States. Idar’s father, Nicasio Idar, established railroad workers’ unions in Nuevo Laredo and San Luis Potosí, Mexico, and later edited La Crónica, a Laredo Spanish-language newspaper. Clemente Idar left school at a young age and worked in his father’s printing shop, alongside his sister, Jovita Idar, and most of his other siblings. He also became a Freemason, like his father, Nicasio. In 1911, Nicasio, Jovita, and Clemente organized El Congreso Mexicanista, a conference in Laredo that brought together delegates from across Texas to build a federation of community organizations that could work together to improve the social, economic, and cultural status of Mexican Americans. Clemente Idar married Maria Lorenza (Laura) Dávila in 1913, and worked at a variety of jobs in the next few years, from advertising salesman to Laredo Board of Trade translator, to support his growing family. He also held meetings, and probably translated literature, for the Laredo Progressive Party during this time. In 1917, Idar and a partner, Carlos Samper, opened a Laredo office of a wire service, the Spanish-American News Agency, with the intention of opening offices across Mexico that would receive American and world news. The effort was not a success; the following year, however, Idar found the work that would employ him for the rest of his life.

In 1918, Samuel Gompers, president of AFL, selected Idar to help coordinate, and translate at, the Pan American Federation of Labor Conference in Laredo. By November, Idar was working as an AFL organizer, and he moved to San Antonio with his wife, children, and mother-in-law shortly thereafter. A variety of external political factors informed Gompers’ decision to bring Mexican Americans into the AFL: World War, continued armed conflict on both sides of the border after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, competition from more radical unions, and the fear that newly arrived immigrants would take jobs away from American citizens. Idar shared Gompers’ moderate point of view on many issues, including the need to limit immigration. Although he organized some unions that were partially or primarily composed of Mexican nationals, he also assisted the Unión Colonizadora Mexicana, a group that repatriated agricultural workers. Idar supported organizations like the Order of Sons of America, and later the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), that aimed to stimulate patriotic feelings among Mexican Americans. As an AFL representative, Idar chartered already existing Mexican and Mexican American workers’ organizations, and organized workers that were not previously unionized. He worked to maintain relationships among Mexican unions, the Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM), American unions, and the Texas State Federation of Labor (TSFL). Idar served as translator for the AFL, producing Spanish-language versions of speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, and union constitutions and by-laws. He also supported local political campaigns on behalf of labor candidates. Idar worked primarily in Texas, particularly in Laredo, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley, but also traveled to other states, namely Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, and California. His organizing efforts sometimes took him to Mexico, particularly border towns like Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juárez, and Piedras Negras. Throughout his career, Idar organized men in a great variety of trades, from builders and boilermakers to retail clerks and tailors. In 1921-1922, he traveled back and forth between Texas and Mexico establishing cooperation between the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and its Mexican counterpart, Hermandad Unida de Carpinteros y Similares de América. During the national railroad strike of 1922, he served as chairman of the executive board representing 1800 strikers in El Paso. Idar spent much of 1930 in Colorado organizing a Mexican American chapter of the Beetworkers’ Association.

Idar was a member of San Antonio chapters of the Typographical Union and the Chauffeurs’ Union. He was an accomplished public speaker and wrote articles for English and Spanish-language periodicals, primarily about organized labor.

Clemente Idar died of illness in San Antonio on January 23, 1934. He was 51 years old and was survived by his wife and six children.


“Murió ayer un concocido lider del trabajo.” La Prensa, Jan. 24, 1934.

“Organizer C.N. Idar To Leave.” Los Angeles Citizen, March 4, 1927.

Orozco, Cynthia E. “Idar, Clemente Nicasio.” The Handbook of Texas Online, 2001. Retrieved February 28, 2007 from

Zamora, Emilio. The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas. College Station, TX: Texas A and M University Press, 1993.

Scope and Contents Note

Correspondence, written works, legal and financial documents, photos, and printed material, 1875-1938 (bulk 1905-1934), document Mexican American labor organizer Clemente Idar’s life and career. The papers are divided into eight series: correspondence, unions, organizations, writings, legal and financial documents, photographs, weekly reports, and printed material.

The    Correspondence series (1909-1933) contains Idar’s personal and professional letters and telegrams, arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Notable items in this series include correspondence with Idar family members, organizers Mother Jones and John Murray, Sen. Morris Sheppard, and Govs. James E. and Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas. Correspondence related to specific unions or other organizations is filed in series two and three. Where possible, correspondents have been matched with a union or group affiliation. For example, correspondence with George H. Slater, president of the Texas State Federation of Labor (TSFL) is filed in the Unions series, under TSFL.

The    Unions series (1910-1934) is made up of correspondence, constitutions, rules, press statements, publications, and other printed material. AFL correspondents in this series include Samuel Gompers, William Green, Frank Morrison, and Daniel Tobin. Idar founded Spanish-language chapters of American unions and also created new partnerships between American and Mexican unions of similar trades. Spanish-language union materials are filed alphabetically under the English name of the corresponding union (if there is one), even if the names translate differently. Therefore, documents related to the Sindicato de Sastres, for example, are filed with those of the Journeyman Tailors.

Series three,    Organizations (1905-1933), is composed of correspondence and printed materials from business, government, and nongovernmental organizations. Included here are copies of the LULAC, LULAC San Antonio Council, and Order of Sons of America constitutions.

The    Writings series (1912-1932, n.d.) consists of three subseries: writings by Idar, unattributed writings, and writings by others. The unattributed works include handwritten notes and unlabeled typescripts, most likely written by Idar himself. Most of the works in the Writings series deal with labor-related topics, e.g. the Machine Age, production and consumption, unemployment. Other topics covered include the conflict between church and state in Mexico, and Mexican Freemasonry.

Series five,    Legal and Financial Documents (1875-1930), contains receipts, notes on expenses, and legal documents. Many of the legal documents do not directly concern Clemente Idar; some of them may be related to Nicasio Idar’s tenure as justice of the peace for Webb County (Laredo), Texas. These papers range from contracts to affidavits to certifications.

The small series of    Photographs (1913, 1938, n.d.) includes an unlabeled group portrait that probably depicts Nicasio Idar and his seven sons, in addition to an unlabeled photograph of Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, and a picture that may have been taken at one of the Pan-American Labor conferences.

The    Weekly Reports (1919-1930), series seven, are copies of reports submitted to Idar to AFL headquarters detailing his organizing activities for the week. They are fairly complete through 1926; only a few remain for the years 1927-1930.

The eighth and final series,    Printed Material(1892-1933), includes copies of bills and laws, broadsides, invitations, programs, published reports, newspapers, and magazines. For convenience in storage, calling cards and small pamphlets are filed together in a small box; published reports are stored together in a similar fashion. The reports include conference proceedings from the AFL, TSFL, PAFL and other annual conferences, and monographs published by the AFL and other groups. Journals, magazines, and newspapers in the collection are labor publications from the United States and Mexico; some, like CROM’s fortnightly magazine, are rare. There are several newspapers published by Clemente Idar’s family members, including Jovita Idar’s Evolución, and Eduardo Idar’s Las Noticias, both published in Laredo.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Standard copyright restrictions apply.

Index Terms

The Clemente N. Idar Papers are classified under the following Subject Headings:
Idar, Clemente N.-- Archives
American Federation of Labor
Labor unions--Mexican American membership
Labor unions--Texas--History--20th Century
Labor unions--United States--History--20th Century
Labor unions--Mexico--History--20th Century

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Clemente N. Idar Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.

Box and Folder Inventory


Correspondence, 1909-1933

box folder
1 1 A-Ba, 1911-1932, n.d.
2 Benavides, Lila 1915-1916
3 Be-Ch, 1911-1932
4 Connally, Tom 1932
5 Con-Cou, 1918, 1929-1930
6 Creager, J.B. 1920, 1927-1931, n.d.
7 Cro-Fel, 1916-1932, n.d.
8 Ferguson, Govs. James and Miriam, 1917, 1925-1926
9 Fi-G, 1911-1932, n.d.
10 Haberman, Roberto, 1921-1926
11 Har-Hig, 1919-1932, n.d.
12 Hillhouse, S. L., 1920
13 Hin-Hu, 1919-1930
14 Hyland, Thomas P., 1932-1933
15 Idar, Eduardo, 1912-1916, n.d.
16 Idar, Federico, 1914, 1920, 1928, n.d.
17 Idar, Jovita, c.1914-1915
18 Idar, Laura, 1920-1923, 1931
19 Idar, Nicasio 1913
20 Idar [Various], 1920, 1925
21 J-Li, 1909-1933, n.d.
22 Lord, James R., 1921-1931
23 Ma-Morg, 1912-1932
24 Morones, Luis, 1919-1930, n.d.
box folder
2 1 Morr-O, 1912-1932, n.d.
2 Obregón, Pres. Álvaro, 1921-1926
3 P-Sa, 1911-1932, n.d.
4 Sheppard, Morris, 1913
5 Si-St, 1914-1924, n.d.
6 T, 1913-1932
7 Val-Van, 1911, 1930-1932
8 Vargas, Canuto 1920-1924, n.d.
9 Vargas, F.- Villa, 1913-1921, n.d.
10 Villareal, Antonio I., 1921
11 Villegas-Z, 1911-1929, n.d.
12 [Correspondents Unidentified]
13 [Unidentified Fragments]


Unions, 1910-1934

box folder
3 1 A-Ama, 1920-1929
2 American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), 1932-1933, n.d.
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
American Federation of Labor (AF of L), 1918-1934
3 AFL Applications, 1919
4 AFL Certificates, 1920-1932
5 AFL Constitution [translation], 1929
6 AFL Correspondence [general], 1919-1934, n.d.
7 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1918-1919
8 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1920
9 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1921
10 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1922
11 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1923-1926
12 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1927-1929
13 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1930-1931
14 AFL Correspondence [to/from Idar], 1932-1934, n.d.
15 AFL Executive Council Resolution on Railroad Strike, c.1922
box folder
4 1 AFL Press Releases, 1929-1932
2 AFL Printed Materials, 1918-1933
See also OS 1
3 American Federation of Teachers (AFT), 1919-1920, 1929, n.d.
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
4 Au-Az, 1920, n.d.
5 Bakery and Confectionary Workers' Union, 1930, n.d.
Beetworkers' Association 1928-1930, n.d.
6 Beetworkers' Association Constitution and By-Laws, 1928
7 Beetworkers' Association Correspondence, 1930
8 Beetworkers' Association Member Lists, n.d.
9 Beetworkers' Association Printed Material, 1930
10 Beetworkers' Association Reports and Other Writings, 1930, n.d.
11 Bo-Br, 1920-1933
12 Brotherhood of M-Brotherhood of R, 1926-1933
13 Building Trades Council, 1920-1921, 1931-1932
14 Ca-Con, 1918-1933
15 Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM), 1918-1931
16 Coo-G, 1922-1933
17 H, 1926-1933
box folder
5 1 Int Association of B-Int Association of F, 1931-1932
2 International Association of Machinists, 1920-1932, n.d.
3 International Association of Oil, Gas and Refinery Workers, 1925, 1929
4 Int Brotherhood of Bl- Int Brotherhood of Boi, 1910-1933, n.d.
5 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1920-1932, n.d.
6 Int Brotherhood of Teamsters Correspondence, 1918-1932
7 Int Brotherhood of Teamsters Printed Materials, 1929-1930
8 Int H- Int U, 1920-1933
9 J, 1918-1932, n.d.
10 L-Pai, 1919-1932
11 Pan American Federation of Labor (PAFL) Correspondence, 1918-1927
12 PAFL Printed Materials, 1918-1930
13 [PAFL statement on Mexican rebels], c. 1922
14 Po-Ra, 1922-1932
15 Re-Sa, 1918-1933
16 Shop Crafts, 1922
box folder
6 1 So-Texas State C, 1919, 1933
2 Texas State Federation of Labor, 1919-1932
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
3 Texas State Fed of P- T, 1919-1927
4 Union de C-United A, 1918-1932
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 1919-1932, n.d.
5 United Brotherhood of Carpenters Correspondence, 1919-1921
6 United Brotherhood of Carpenters Correspondence, 1922-1923, 1931-1932, n.d.
7 United Brotherhood of Carpenters Membership and Instruction Cards, 1922, n.d.
8 United Brotherhood of Carpenters Printed Materials, 1922, n.d.
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
9 United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Eagle Pass, TX, Rules, n.d.
10 United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Local No. 2319, Rules, n.d.
11 United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Piedras Negras, Mex., List of Charter Applicants, n.d.
12 United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Torreón, Mex., Officers List and Constitution, n.d.
13 United M-W, 1925-1932
14 Directory of Local Unions, Rio Grande Valley, n.d.
15 [List of Applicants for Charter and Membership, Unident. Unions, Laredo, TX], 1918
16 [Meetings Manual, Unidentified Union], n.d.
17 [Union By-Laws, Unidentified], n.d.
18 [Union Rules- Typographers?], n.d.
19 [Union Rules- Unidentified], n.d.
20 [Union Wage Scale, Unidentified], n.d.


Organizations, 1905-1933

box folder
7 1 A-B, 1914-1922, n.d.
2 C, 1914-1933
3 D-E, 1905-1932, n.d.
4 F, 1914-1922, n.d.
5 Ge-Gr, 1913-1930
6 H, 1926-1932
7 Int, 1913-1926, n.d.
8 J-K, 1919, 1930
9 L, 1913-1933
10 LULAC Constitution and Bylaws, 1929
11 LULAC Correspondence, 1930
12 LULAC Invitation and Program, n.d.
13 LULAC San Antonio Council, Constitution & Bylaws, 1929
14 LULAC Resolution Regarding Idar and M. C. Gonzales, 1930
15 M-N, 1907-1922
16 O-P, 1907-1930
[See also Progressive Party broadside in oversize box OS 1]
box folder
8 1 R, 1908-1921
2 Sa-Se, 1913-1928, n.d.
3 Sh, 1922-1926
4 Sons of America, 1922-1927
5 Son-Sou, 1914-1926
6 Spanish-American News Agency, 1917
7 Sp-Su, 1920-1926
8 Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1920-1933
9 Texas D-Tu, 1913-1923, n.d.
10 Union L-United P, 1920-1926
11 U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1913
12 U.S. Dept. of L-U.S. S, 1914-1932, n.d.
13 [Various hotels], 1930, 1933
14 [Various laundries], 1919
15 V-W, 1914, 1920
16 Workers' Education Bureau, 1928-1930
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
17 Y-Z, 1914-1916
18 Minutes [Unidentified], n.d.


Writings, 1912-1932, n.d.

8 Authored by Idar:
19 "Al Margen de la Americanización", n.d.
20 [Reflections on a Stormy Night], n.d. n.d.
21 "Semillas de Mostaza en el Surco de la Vida", n.d.
22 [Writings and Speeches on the Machine Age], n.d.
Author Unknown:
23 "Al Publico. Boletin de la Huelga", 1922
24 "Carbonation", n.d.
box folder
9 1 "Church and State in Mexico", n.d.
2 "Defensa Bien Fundada, Una", n.d.
3 "Did You Know That...", n.d.
4 "Doctrina Moderna del Salario del Trabajo Organizado", n.d.
5 [El Paso Conference Outline], n.d.
6 [Fragment of a Campaign Speech], n.d.
7 "Iglesia Catolica", n.d.
8 [Laredo Board of Trade Address], n.d.
9 Notes, n.d.
10 [On Education], n.d.
11 [On the Mexican Revolution], c. 1911
12 [On Mexico's Participation in Wash, DC Conference], 1921
13 [On Open Shop Policy], n.d.
14 [On Organized Labor in America], n.d.
15 [On Over-Production], n.d.
16 [On the Railway Strike], c.1922
17 [On Texas State Labor Commissioner], 1932
18 [Partial Report on Conditions in Oil Refineries], n.d.
19 "The Problems of Women in Industry" [Speech], n.d.
20 [Production and Consumption], n.d.
21 [Progress and Reaction], n.d.
22 [Questions for a Study of Mexican-American Workers], 1926
23 [Rebuttal to article on Mexican farm labor], n.d.
24 "San Jacinto River Project", n.d.
25 [Speeches and Writings on Unemployment], 1930-1931, n.d.
26 "Trabajador Mexicano en los Estados Unidos, El" [Notes], n.d.
27 "Unidad Revolucionaria" [Editorial for La Crónica], n.d.
28 [Unidentified Fragments], n.d.
29 [Writings on Masonry], n.d.
Authored By Others:
30 "Judge Allen's [Campaign] Speech at Mission, TX", 1912
31 Estrada, C. M., "La Influencia del Congreso Centroamericano", 1921
32 Gompers, Samuel [Various], n.d.
33 Inman, Samuel Guy, "Again the Mexican Question", n.d.
34 Martinez, J. C., [Report on Mexican Masonic Leader's Tour of Texas], 1923
35 "Pensamientos Selectos", n.d.
36 Speeches and Press Statements [Various], 1913-1930, n.d.
37 Vargas, Canuto, "El Legado de John Murray", 1920


Legal and Financial Documents, 1875-1930

box folder
10 1 Expense Notes, 1919-1921, 1930, n.d.
2 Legal Documents, 1875-1926
3 Receipts, 1913-1925, n.d.


Photographs, 1913, 1938, n.d.

box folder
10 4 Carranza, Venustiano, 1913
5 Idar, Ed Jr., Graduation Photo, 1938
6 [Nicasio Idar and Sons?], n.d.
7 [Pan-American meeting?], n.d.
8 [Unidentified River Scene], n.d.


Weekly Reports, 1919-1930

box folder
10 9 Weekly Reports, 1919-1921
10 Weekly Reports, 1922-1927, 1929-1930


Printed Material, 1892-1933

box folder
10 11 Bills, Laws and Legal Decisions, 1914-1931
12 Broadsides, 1913-1922
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
13 Invitations and Programs, 1913-1929, n.d.
14 Lists [Various], 1911, n.d.
[For larger format material, see also oversize box OS 1]
15 Unidentified, n.d.
box folder
11 Cards and Pamphlets, 1914-1930, n.d.
box folder
12 1 Articles About/By Idar, 1927, 1930, n.d.
2 News Articles [Copies and Translations], 1892, 1920-1921, 1930-1932, n.d.
3 News Clippings, 1913, 1918-1932, n.d.
4 Newspapers, 1911-1932
Oversized newspapers are in box OS 2
5 Scrapbook, c. 1928
6 Scrapbook, n.d.
7 Journals and Magazines, A-C, 1910-1933
8 Journals and Magazines, G-U, 1907-1931
9-10 Publications [Various], 1913-1918, n.d.
2 folders
box folder
13 Reports, 1893-1933


Oversized Material, 1913-1933

box folder
OS 1 Newspapers, 1918-1933
box folder
OS 2 1 AFL Weekly News Service, 1928-1934
box folder
OS 2 2 AFL Printed Material, 1919-1923, n.d.
3 AFGE and AFT Printed Material, 1924, n.d.
4 TSFL Printed Material, n.d.
5 Progressive Party Broadside, c.1913
6 Workers' Education Bureau Printed Material, 1929
7 Broadsides, 1913-1926, n.d.
2 folders
9 Lists, n.d.