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Archie Brown collection

Identifier: larc-ms-0087

Scope and Contents

The Archie Brown collection includes items from the 1930s and 1960s, but the majority of materials date from the 1970s, and document Brown's active role in the ILWU, the Communist Party, and a host of progressive organizations. The many pamphlets and broadsides testify to his commitment to social justice and also give an idea about the issues of importance to San Francisco leftists in the 1970s. Other activities of which there is less documentation include economic issues, such as the Coalition to Fight the High Cost of Living. He also supported struggles of other unions and their strikes.

Of special interest in the collection are letters Brown received after the movie "Operation Abolition" was shown nationwide, a documentary about the fight to abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee; and materials related to U.S. labor union activities to support Chilean workers and the fight to free Angela Davis. The collection also includes two courtroom transcripts, of the Grand Jury hearing of October 1935, and murder trial, December 1935, defendants: Shipscalers F. Jimenez, J. Cavales, A. Brown and N. Villi; photocopies of letters Archie wrote to his wife to his wife Esther (Hon) Brown while he was a member of the Spanish Civil War Abraham Lincoln Brigade (originals are held by Brandeis University in the Archie Brown Collection); print materials pertaining to the San Francisco waterfront, including the Waterfront Worker, May 1934¬March 1936; materials on Archie Brown's political campaigns for SF supervisor, California governor (write-in candidate) and congressman; and photographs of Archie Brown during 1961 trial challenging the Communist Control Act (successor act to Taft-Hartley Section 9) and at HUAC hearings in California, 1960.


  • 1970-1978, 1933-1978
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1978



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives & Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives & Research Center 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.

Biographical Notes

Archie Brown was born in Sioux City, Iowa in 1911. In his early teens he rode the rails to the Bay Area. At age 14, he lost his job as a newsboy for organizing a newsboys' strike. During the 1930s, he belonged to the Young Communist League, helped organize California agricultural workers, and became a longshoreman, part of San Francisco's thriving waterfront union movement.

In 1938, his convictions led him into the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He also served in the U.S. Army in World War II, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

After his return from the war, Archie held a number of state and national Communist Party positions. He continued to work as a longshoreman, and served on the Executive Committee of International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 10. He was arrested for violating the Landrum-Griffin Act, which stated that trade-union office holders could not be Communist Party members. He fought the guilty verdict up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the ban in 1965.

Archie remained an active longshoreman until 1977. After his retirement, he worked to promote numerous leftist causes. He died of cancer in November 1990. A partial record of his activities can be found in the Collection.


2.25 Cubic Feet ( (5 boxes))

Language of Materials



Arranged alphabetically.


Materials are available onsite.


The collection consists of accessions from Archie Brown's wife, Mrs. Esther "Hon" Brown. Materials include broadsides from leftist causes, pamphlets, and correspondence. The collection was received in the spring of 1995 and processed during the summers of 1995 and 1996; accession numbers 1991/079; 1992/005; 1995/011; 1995/067; 1997/066; and 1998/057

Material Cataloged Separately

The following materials have been removed from the files and are located in the Ephemera Collection of the Labor Archives.

A Conversation--Labor Looks at Labor. Some members of the United Auto Workers undertake a self-examination. 1963.

Union Printers College. San Francisco Typographical Union, No. 21. 1963

Voices for Liberty. Stop McCarranism! Collection of speeches. Ca. 1964.

How to Speak at Union Meetings. UAW Education Department. 1977?

Effective Discussion Methods. UAW Education Department. 1976?

Come Out Swinging! A 2-Fisted Rank & File Program. Labor Education Fund. 1974.

Proposition "L": 30 Hours Work, 40 Hours Pay. Workers Action Movement. 1973.

Some Facts on the New Grape Boycott. UFW Research Department. 1973.

Agenda from the First Constitutional Convention, United Farm Workers. 1973. (English and Spanish)

Boycott Lettuce and Grapes. Political Education Project and UFW. 1973?

Joe Worker and the Story of Labor. (Comic book). National Labor Service. 1945.

On the Boss's Time. Shop Poems and Other Poems By George Bratt. 1958.

Security, Civil Liberties and Unions. AFL-CIO. 1956.

Of the People, for the People. Pictorial highlights of fifty years of the Communist Party, USA, 1919-1969. 1970.

"All Strikebreakers Must Go!" San Francisco Typographical Union No. 21. 1964.

Port of San Francisco Ocean Shipping Handbook. Board of State Harbor Commissioners. undated

Separated Material

Numerous Communist Party books and pamphlets were removed and sent to the Niebyl-Proctor Library.

Processing Information

Processed by The Labor Archives and Research Center staff.

Finding Aid to the Archie Brown Collection, 1933-1978
Finding aid prepared by Labor Archives and Research Center staff.
1991, Revised 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in: English

Repository Details

Part of the Labor Archives and Research Center Repository

San Francisco State University
J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 460
1630 Holloway Ave
San Francisco 94132-1722 USA
(415) 405-5571