Clinton Jencks Papers 1950-1957

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Clinton Jencks Papers 1950-1957

MSS-137


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Jencks, Clinton E., 1918-2005
Title: Clinton Jencks Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1950-1957
Quantity: 1 Box (0.5 Linear Feet)
Abstract:The Clinton Jencks Papers contain materials documenting Jencks' labor organizing activities with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelters Workers in the southwest from 1950 to 1957. Of particular interest are the items showing the fifteen-month Empire Zinc strike in Hanover, New Mexico (led by Local 890, IUMMSW) and the "Jencks Case". Also included are IUMMSW union memorandums; newsletters; and newspaper articles, magazine articles, and printed matter discussing Jencks' activities as the International Union Representative of the Amalgamated Bayard District Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 890 (whose membership was primarily Mexican American). The collection has been divided into six series.
Identification: MSS-137
Language: Material in English with some Spanish.
Repository: Arizona State University Library. Chicano Research Collection
Arizona State University Library
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
Phone: (480) 965-4932
E-Mail: archives@asu.edu
Questions? Ask An Archivist!

Biographical Note

Clinton Jencks, labor union organizer and leader, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1918, the son of a postal service employee with a strong labor consciousness. Jencks recalls that, as a young boy, he and his father took food baskets to striking miners who faced eviction from their company homes. Upon graduation from high school, Jencks worked at the John Deere company. Jencks went on to attend the University of Colorado, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1941. During World War II, Jencks served in the Army Air Force and saw action in the Pacific as a navigator of a B-24 squadron. He earned four battle stars, seven air medals, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, Jencks became active with the American Veterans Committee and became president of its Rocky Mountain chapter in Denver, Colorado. Through his work with the AVC, Jencks devoted himself to such veterans' issues as fair housing, employment, and health care and sought to bring an end to racial and ethnic discrimination. It was also during this time that Jencks found work as an acid plant operator in the American Smelting and Refining Globe Smelter at Denver. Here, he became an active member of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 557.

In 1947, the union hired Jencks as their business agent and sent him to Bayard, New Mexico to work with the Amalgamated Bayard District Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 890, a predominately Mexican American union. For some years, Local 890 struggled to overcome such issues as job and wage discrimination and unsafe working conditions at the Empire Zinc Company in Hanover, New Mexico, a subsidiary of the New Jersey Zinc Company. In 1950, Jencks helped Local 890 stage a fifteen-month strike against Empire Zinc. In early 1951, Jencks was elected president of Local 890. Jencks and other strikers were arrested on June 12, 1951 while on strike and on a picket line at the mine's entrance. Jencks was jailed and placed in solitary confinement for sixteen months.

After his release, Jencks met Paul Jarrico, a Hollywood screenwriter who had worked at the Howard Hughes RKO Studio. Jarrico had recently been blacklisted for refusing to reveal his ties to the Communist Party and for not revealing the names of others who were also suspected of being party members. Jarrico was vacationing in San Cristobal, New Mexico and was looking for story ideas for new film projects. Jencks described the events of the Empire Zinc Strike and the plight of Mexican American miners and their families who struggled for their civil rights in a company town to Jarrico. Jarrico found the story appealing, and he contacted Hollywood friends to help him produce the film independently. He also asked Jencks to help write a script based on the Empire Zinc strike. Jencks agreed, and the idea for the pro-labor film emerged. In 1953, the film Salt of the Earth was filmed in the Silver City-Bayard, New Mexico area. It was released for distribution in 1954 amid political controversy and violence. The film was later denounced on the floor of Congress for its "Communist influence" and was blacklisted by Hollywood and held for worldwide distribution. All of those associated with the making of the film, including Jencks and his family, were accused of helping to make an un-American film promoting Communistic ideas intended for use as a propaganda tool for "subversives" intending to overthrow the American government.

On April 17, 1953 Jencks was arrested, charged, and indicted with allegedly falsifying his non-Communist Taft-Hartley affidavit. The affidavit, which Jencks had signed on April 28, 1950, was required of all union leaders under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Jencks was accused of having lied when he denied membership in the Communist Party and of having lied when he denied his affiliation with Communism. The International Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union rallied to his defense and mounted a massive effort to help Jencks, but to no avail. His chief accuser was Harvey Matusow, a paid FBI informant and a Communist turned undercover agent for the FBI. The so-called "Jencks Trial" took place in El Paso, Texas in 1954. Matusow stated in the trial that Jencks had ties to the Communist Party, charges that were later proven to be untrue. In his 1955 publication, False Witness, Matusow admitted that he had lied about Jencks. He confessed to the falsification again when Jencks appealed for a new trial. On October 26, 1955 the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the guilty verdict against Jencks. In a 1957 landmark decision known as the "Jencks Case", the United States Supreme Court ruled Matusow's charges invalid and declared Jencks innocent of all charges tying him to the Communist Party.

In 1964, Jencks obtained his Ph.D. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. In the same year, he was hired as a Professor of Economics at San Diego State University. He continued to teach for that institution until his retirement. Jencks died on December 14, 2005 in San Diego, California.


Scope and Content Note

The Clinton Jencks Papers contain materials documenting Jencks' labor organizing activities with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelters Workers in the southwest from 1950 to 1957. Of particular interest are the items showing the fifteen-month Empire Zinc strike in Hanover, New Mexico (led by Local 890, IUMMSW) and the "Jencks Case". Also included are IUMMSW union memorandums; newsletters; and newspaper articles, magazine articles, and printed matter discussing Jencks' activities as the International Union Representative of the Amalgamated Bayard District Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 890 (whose membership was primarily Mexican American). The collection has been divided into six series.

Series I: Jencks Case consists primarily of memorandums written by John Clark, then President of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, between 1953 and 1956. These documents urge union members to support Clinton Jencks' legal defense after Jencks was falsely accused of being a member of the Communist Party. Also included are newspaper articles about the Jencks case and trial dating from 1953 to 1955; printed matter circulated by the Jencks Defense Committee describing the legal proceedings and events of the "Jencks Trial" held in El Paso, Texas in 1954; and a copy of the legal document attested to by Harvey M. Matusow, a self-acknowledged Communist and undercover FBI informant, who later confessed to lying in his testimony about Jencks' ties to Communism. The United States Supreme Court cited this retraction as justification for declaring the case invalid in 1957.

Series II: Mine Mill Defense Fund houses memorandums written by various union officials calling for financial support for Clinton Jencks' legal defense. These documents encourage union members to be generous with their donations.

Series III: Union Locals contains International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union correspondence and newsletters published by union locals in Ray-Sonora and Morenci, Arizona; Bayard, New Mexico; and El Paso, Texas from 1951 to 1955. These newsletters describe such events as labor disputes, the Empire Zinc strike, and contract negotiations between unions and management. Some of the newsletters are written in both English and Spanish.

Series IV: Empire Zinc Strike includes information describing Mine Mill Local 890 at Hanover, New Mexico's strike against the Empire Zinc Company, a division of the New Jersey Zinc Company, from October 1950 to January 1951. Also included is information about the pro-labor motion picture Salt of the Earth, which was filmed near Bayard, New Mexico in 1953. This film depicts the events surrounding the Empire Zinc Strike and was released (and subsequently suppressed) in 1954.

Series V: Union Newsletters houses Mine-Mill union newsletters and bulletins published by union affiliates in Ray, Arizona and Denver, Colorado in 1954 and 1955. Among the issues discussed are union contracts and wages for workers employed by the Ray Mines Division of the Kennecott Copper Company.

Series VI: Miscellaneous contains a variety of materials including a report about the trade union movement in Mexico and Latin America delivered at an international conference in Mexico City in 1953 and a mother's statement attesting to her son's innocence of an assault charge. Also included is an image of an IUMMSW 1961 convention badge.


Arrangement

This collection consists of one box divided into six series:

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

To view this collection, make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932. Appointments are available from Monday through Friday from 9-5, on a first come, first served basis, on the ASU Tempe or West campuses.

Copyright

The Arizona Board of Regents retains copyright to this collection for and on behalf of Distinctive Collections, Arizona State University Library. Requests for permissions to publish, display, or redistribute information from this collection must be submitted in writing to the Head of Distinctive Collections.


Related Material

Additional materials about Clinton Jencks were added to his Biography File (CB Bio Jencks, Clinton).


Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Clark, John, b. 1888.
Jencks, Clinton E., 1918-2005 -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Jencks, Clinton E., 1918-2005.
Matusow, Harvey, 1926-.

Corporate Name(s)
International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers.
Kennecott Copper Corporation. Ray Mines Division.

Subject(s)
Empire Zinc Company Strike, Hanover, N.M., 1950-1951.
Mexican American labor union members -- New Mexico.
Strikes and lockouts -- Zinc mining -- New Mexico.


Administrative Information

Credit Line

Clinton Jencks Papers, MSS-137. Arizona State University Library: Chicano Research Collection.

Provenance

Clinton Jencks donated these papers to the Chicano Research Collection in 1994 and 1995 (ACC# 1994-01386; and ACC# 1995-01455).


Container List

Series I: Jencks Case
BoxFolder
11 International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, 1953-1956
12 Jencks Trial: Newspapers, 1953-1955
13 Newspaper Articles, 1955
14 Silver City, N.M., 1954
Series II: Mine Mill Defense Fund
BoxFolder
15 Mine Mill Defense Fund, 1954
16 Jencks Defense Committee, 1954
Series III: Union Locals
BoxFolder
17 Local 890: Correspondence, 1951
18 Local 890: Empire Zinc, 1951
19 Mine-Mill Local 915, Ray-Sonora, 1955
110 Local 926, Coronado Mine, 1955
111 Mine Mill Local, El Paso, 1955
112 Local 616, Morenci Miners' Union, 1955
Series IV: Empire Zinc Strike
BoxFolder
113 Empire Zinc Strike, 1950-1952
114 Salt of the Earth: the film, 1952
Series V: Union Newsletters
BoxFolder
115 Strike News, 1955
116 The Union/El Sindicato, 1954
117 Mine Mill Bulletin, 1954
Series VI: Miscellaneous
BoxFolder
118 Inter-American Conference of Mining, Metal, and Machine Workers, 1953
119 Affidavit: Mrs. Antonio Campos, Undated