Skip to main content

Wells / Hajjar Central America Solidarity Collection

 Collection
Identifier: H-Mss-1084

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Wells / Hajjar Central America Solidarity collection includes the organizational, administrative and working papers for several grass-roots political groups founded by Carol Wells and Ted Hajjar in the late seventies and early eighties. The groups founded and operated by both Wells and Hajjar originally sought to oppose United States (US) interventionist policies in Nicaragua, which remained its primary focus, but was later expanded into other Central American countries.

The two primary organizations comprised herein are the Nicaraguan Task Force (NTF), along with several smaller subsidiaries, and Solidarity: A Social Feminist Network (SOLIDARITY). The NTF is the predominate organization in the collection and the source of the majority of records contained in Series 1. These include but are not limited to bank statements, purchasing and inventory invoices and receipts, telephone and utility statements, a book of folkloric guitar sheet music, and several handwritten meeting notes and planning agendas by Carol Wells. There are also several governmental agency reports, news clippings, magazine articles and copies of speeches—not produced by NTF—but concerning the socio-political and economic conditions and regimes in Central America during the era, as well as information on the US/Reagan Administration’s policies of intervention in this region.

The NTF’s sub-committees represented here include the US Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the Frente Democractico Revolucionario (FDR), the Frente Marti para la Liberacion National (FMLN), and the New American Movement (NAM). The records herein representing these sub-committees include meeting agendas, minutes, resolutions, steering and planning goals, expansion projects, fundraising, and countless newsletters. The newsletters are both the sub-committees’ own newsletters as well as ones received from a myriad of organizations serving similar Central American grass-roots movements. SOLIDARITY is a sister organization to NTF but with its central foci on the women’s socialists movements of these same time periods. SOLIDARITY was never specifically designated to a particular Central American country and strove to increase awareness and bi-partisanship network with other socialist movements. The SOLIDARITY records contained in this collection include organizational and structural planning, meeting agendas and minutes, brochures, fundraising flyers, and a large quantity of SOLIDARITY’s own newsletters, resolutions and annual conference reports.

The collection also includes extensive propaganda materials in both print and media formats. These include pamphlets and periodicals, complete newspapers and indiviudal newspaper clippings, flyers and brochures as well as Video Home System [VHS] and Betamax [Beta] cassette tapes featuring documentaries, news broadcasts, interviews from both U.S. and Nicaraguan television broadcasts and in both English and Spanish.

Dates

  • 1958 - 1992, undated

Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: English, Spanish.

Access

Collection open for research. No VHS player is available for viewing in the Reading Room. Content of tapes may be digitized upon request.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Carol Wells is an activist, art historian, curator, lecturer, and writer. Wells was born on February 12, 1946, in the town of Lynn, Michigan . At age 11, her family moved to California, settling in the Los Angeles area. While attending Dorsey High School from 1959 to 1963, Wells began working in support of the civil rights movement, writing articles for her school’s newspaper against the adverse impact of white flight in urban areas and participating in voter registration efforts. When attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a freshman, she engaged in her first sit-in protesting de-facto segregation in Los Angeles public schools. Wells would eventually graduate from UCLA with a BA in History and an MA in Art History . During her time at UCLA, Wells also became increasingly active in the anti-war movement mobilizing against US involvement in Vietnam, attending numerous teach-ins and participating in various demonstrations. While participating in a lawful anti-war demonstration against President Lyndon B. Johnson in Century City, she witnessed police physically assault peaceful protestors. For Wells, witnessing these events in Century City marked a “turning point” in her life, and confirmed her ongoing commitment to social justice activism . It was while continuing to engage in protests and other actions against the Vietnam War that Wells met Theodore Hajjar.

Theodore Hajjar is a retired educator and activist who was born in Manhattan, New York on August 10, 1942 . Hajjar did not become politically active until later in his college years. Upon graduation from Massapequa High School in 1960, Hajjar pursued a BA in Sociology from Stony Brook University in 1964, and began graduate work at University of California, Berkeley in that same year. Hajjar’s entry into Berkeley coincided with the Free Speech Movement, a sizeable protest that related to student life on campus, the civil rights movement, and anti-war activism protesting US involvement in Vietnam . Hajjar would remain active in anti-war work, but would leave Berkeley in 1966 to pursue his MA in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Shortly after receiving his MA, Hajjar began teaching in the Department of Sociology at California State University Northridge (CSUN) while continuing to pursue coursework at UCSB. Hajjar would work at CSUN from approximately 1968 to1975, beginning as an adjunct professor but eventually becoming full-time faculty . Hajjar would finish out his teaching career working at an experimental high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Wells and Hajjar met while Hajjar was still teaching at CSUN and Wells was a student at UCLA. Together, they attended a massive anti-war protest against the Vietnam War in San Francisco, California in 1969 . They were married shortly thereafter on July 21, 1974 .

Following US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, Wells and Hajjar remained politically active and began to focus upon political developments in Central America, paying special attention to events unfolding in Nicaragua. They joined the New American Movement (NAM) in 1978 . Wells continued to engage in activism around Nicaragua as part of Nicaragua Solidarity (NICASO) after the successful Sandinista revolution in 1979 and until NICASO disbanded in 1980 . Hajjar, while not involved directly in NICASO, maintained an interest in events in Nicaragua, and felt compelled to begin work actively supporting the Sandinista revolution following Ronald Reagan’s election to the office of President of the United States in 1981. For Hajjar, the broad domestic support that put Reagan in the White House was proof that Reagan could only effectively be criticized from a foreign policy perspective. He also believed that the Sandinista revolution could function as an example of successful, progressive, and democratic governance . In July of 1981, Wells and Hajjar traveled to Nicaragua with UCLA Art History professor David Kunzle to collect posters and other artwork associated with the Sandinista revolution. They would return to Nicaragua in 1983 and 1984 . Both Wells and Hajjar grew more committed to work opposing US intervention in Central America, and especially in Nicaragua, as a result of their initial experiences in the country.

Wells and Hajjar would eventually leave the NAM and establish the Nicaragua Task Force (NTF). Hajjar left the NAM shortly after returning from Nicaragua in 1981. Wells would remain a member of the NAM up to and after an internal split in approximately 1980 that resulted in part of the organization’s membership merging with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (D-SOC) . Some remaining members would go on to formally found Solidarity: A Socialist-Feminist Network (SOLIDARITY) in approximately 1981. Wells was a member of SOLIDARITY until roughly 1989, all the while continuing her work in a leadership position within the NTF and engaging in continued activism in support of the Sandinista revolution .

The NTF was established in 1982. For administrative reasons, the NTF was originally established as The Nicaragua Task Force of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador prior to its work as an independent organization . The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) is an activist organization founded in 1980 that focuses on political events in El Salvador and works in opposition to US political, economic, and military intervention in the country . It maintains close ties with both the national liberationist Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) and the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) . While Wells and Hajjar remained involved in work on El Salvador and continued to collaborate with CISPES, the NTF became a distinct organization shortly after its founding so that the NTF could more fully develop its work around Nicaragua without diverting time and other resources from the work of CISPES members focusing on developments in El Salvador .

From its founding in 1982 until it ceased to operate in 1990, the NTF engaged in a variety of actions in support of the Sandinista revolution and against US political, military, and economic intervention in Nicaragua under Reagan. Along with developing ties to the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN), through its work in support of the Sandinista revolution and its involvement with other activists and domestic organizations, the NTF also developed relationships with the Nicaraguan Asociacion de Mujeres Nicaraguenses Luisa Amanda Espinoza (AMNLAE) and the Asociacion de Trabajodores del Campo (ATC) . Much of the NTF’s work was intended to educate the general public about the state of affairs in Nicaragua and to counter the prevailing narrative of the Reagan Administration. These actions included, but were not limited to, participation in demonstrations and other protest actions, participation in local and national conferences, building broad-based Nicaraguan solidarity coalitions with religious, human rights, and other organizations, fundraising through the sale of buttons, shirts, and other merchandise, providing material and other aid to the Nicaraguan people, hosting speakers like FSLN leader Daniel Ortega and other Nicaraguan political figures, providing temporary asylum for refugees, and work in multiple campaigns to call attention to the adverse impact of US intervention in Nicaragua . Following Ortega’s statement that the FSLN had won a “strategic victory” over the Contras in 1989, and the FSLN’s defeat in the Nicaraguan general election of the following year, the NTF ceased to operate in 1990 .

Currently, Carol Wells is executive director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, which she founded in 1989 . Theodore Hajjar retired from teaching at Southwest Middle College High School, where he taught History and Civics, in 2008 . Both Wells and Hajjar remain politically active.

Sources:

Wells, Carol A. In discussion with the author. November 2016.

Futch, David. “85,000 of the World’s Angriest Political Posters are Sitting in Culver City.” LA Weekly. March 12, 2015. http://www.laweekly.com/arts/85-000-of-the-worlds-angriest-political-posters-are-sitting-in-culver-city-5426721.

Pool, Bob. “Protest Posters Find Asylum with Activist.” Los Angeles Times. June 5, 2001. http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/05/local/me-6581.

Hajjar, Theodore. In discussion with the author. December 2016.

Wells, Carol and Ted Hajjar. “Political Graphics.” Works and Days. 28, no. 55/56 (2010): 296.

Aronowitz, Stanley. “The New American Movement and Why it Failed.” Works and Days. 28, no. 55/56 (2010): 25.

CISPES. “Who We Are.” CISPES: Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. Nov. 21, 2016. http://cispes.org/about.

Regional Surveys of the World. South America, Central America, and the Caribbean 2002. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (4 records boxes, 1 oversize box, 3 shoe boxes)

Abstract

The Wells / Hajjar Central America Solidarity Collection represents the grass-roots organizational, operational and public relations efforts of a network of political action groups founded in the late 1970s by former California State University, Fullerton professor of history and art Carol Wells and her husband, Theodore [Ted] Hajjar. Beginning in 1979 and continuing throughout the eighties and early nineties, Wells and Hajjar founded and promoted political action groups such as the Nicaragua Task Force, Solidarity Feminist Network, the US Committee in Solidary with the People of El Salvador, the New American Movement, and many others.

The network of organizations included in this collection campaigned for non-interventionist policies including the US withdrawal of troops in Central America and an end to US financial and military aid in the region. The group worked against US partisan policies in Central America between 1979 and 1992, though the bulk of the organizational records herein cover the period of 1979-1989. The collection is comprised of three series’ which contain administrative and operational records for organizations and movements, periodicals and pamphlets for not only these organizations but others which they worked and/or co-existed with, and audiovisual cassette tapes featuring news, interviews and documentaries taken from both US and Nicaraguan television broadcasts primarily between 1981-1990.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection has been organized into the following series:

Series 1: Organizations and Movements, 1979-1989 and undated, 2 boxes

Series 2: Pamphlets and Periodicals, 1977-1992 and undated, 3 boxes

Series 3: Audiovisual Materials, 1958 and 1981-1990, 3 boxes

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance / Source of Acquisition

Gift of Carol A. Wells and Theodore Hajjar, 2016.

Accruals

Additions to the collection are anticipated.

Separated Materials

The following monograph items can be found in the Claremont Colleges Library online catalog using the keyword search term “Wells/Hajjar Central American Solidarity Collection”:

Processing Information

This collection was processed by the Archival Studies 310 course (Fall 2016) of Claremont Graduate University as the culminating practicum and was processed at the folder level. Most materials within folders were placed in alphabetical order. All records have been placed in new folders and boxes appropriate to the materials. During processing, staples were removed where necessary, items laid in were noted, and materials were organized into series. Materials are arranged alphabetically by folder title and date order, whenever available. Undated materials are placed at the rear of the folder.
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

Contact:
800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States