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Sydney D. Smith Papers

Identifier: LP001397

Scope and Content

The papers of Mr. Smith consist of an accumulation of research material compiled for his book on the migrant ministries entitled Grapes of Conflict: The Faith Community and Farm Workers, including oral history interviews with those involved in the migrant ministry.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: Strikes and lockouts-Vineyard laborers-California-Delano Religion and labor United Farm Workers Union Women church officers

Among the important correspondents are: Cesar Chavez Dean Collins Wayne C. Hartmire Elsie Farris

Series Description: Series I, Correspondence and manuscript drafts, 1978-1986, Box 1 Correspondence relating to Mr. Smith's work on his book, Grapes of Conflict: The Faith Community and Farm Workers. Chapter drafts are also included in this series.

Series II, Interviews and research material, 1940-1986, Boxes 2-7 Oral history recordings for 32 interviews of persons involved with the California Migrant Ministry. Transcripts also exist for 28 of these. Research material used in the writing of Mr. Smith's book on the migrant ministry is also included.
Oral history interviews were conducted between 1979 and 1982 with the following participants: Robert McAfee Brown, John Burt, Cesar Chavez and Chris Hartmire (interviewed together), John Crossley, Clifford Crummey, Bill Dew, Rev. James Drake, Susan Drake, Benjamin Fraticelli, Chris Hartmire, Pat Hoffman, Cecil and Pat Hoffman, Joseph Hough, Karl Irvin, Velma Shotwell Lerned, Mary McFarland, Dr. Richard Norberg, Henry Panian, Rev. Walter Press, Dr. Jon Regier, Don Reynolds, Sandy Clark Sample, Ted and Blanche Schmidt (interviewed together), Rev. William Scholes, Rev. David Sholin, Carl Siegenthaler, Doug Still and Sue Miner (interviewed together), Rev. Douglas Still, Keith and Fran Taeger (interviewed together), Dr. Forest Weir, Dr. Harold Wilson, and Winthrop Yinger. Some interviews span multiple tapes, and some interviewees were interviewed multiple times. The following 4 interviews do not have transcripts: Clifford Crummey, Velma Shotwell Lerned, Carl Siegenthaler, and Doug Still and Sue Miner (interviewed together).


  • 1940 - 1986
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1986


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


For the papers: Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.
For the oral history interviews: RESTRICTIONS: Due to the personal nature of oral history, the Library prohibits use of the material in any way that infringes on individual right to privacy, or results in libelous statements or slander, in accordance with U.S. law. Permission to quote from or publish oral history interviews or identify any interviewee by name must be obtained from the Library Director, donor, and/or interviewee.

Permission to publish or quote must be obtained from the interviewee or interviewee heirs or assigns.


Sydney Smith was born in Los Angeles, California and attended Pomona College, U.S.C., U.C.L.A. and the University of London. In 1941, Mr. Smith was drafted into the United States Air Force, where he served throughout the Second World War and rose to the rank of captain. Upon his discharge from the Air Force, Mr. Smith embarked upon a ten-year career in retail sales. In 1956, Mr. Smith was baptized into the Presbyterian Church and devoted himself to the church and the California Migrant Ministry. He served as a church administrator in southern California from 1956 to 1969. Later, Mr. Smith became the founding director of Pasadena's Community Housing Service from 1969 until his retirement in 1978.


4 Linear Feet ((6 MB, 1 OS). ) : Includes 28 printed transcripts and 34 audiocassettes.


Sydney Smith was active in the California Migrant Ministry (later known as the National Farm Worker Ministry) and served as the founding director of Pasadena’s Community Housing Service. The papers of Mr. Smith document his research conducted for his book on the migrant ministries entitled Grapes of Conflict: The Faith Community and Farm Workers.


Arranged in 2 series – Series 1 (Box 1), and Series 2 (Boxes 2-7). Folders are arranged by chapter order (series 1) and alphabetical order (series 2). Audio recordings are arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name (Box 7).


The papers of Sydney D. Smith were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in April of 1989 by Mr. Smith.


34 oral history audiocassette tapes have been transferred to the Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in February 1994. Oral history materials processed and finding aid revised by Rebecca Bizonet on January 18, 2017.
Guide to the Sydney D. Smith Papers
Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library; revised by Rebecca Bizonet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA