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Matt Garcia Papers

Identifier: H-Mss-1096

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Matt Garcia Papers contains research materials, oral histories, newspaper clippings, photocopies, photos and written work pertaining to the preparation of two of Dr. Garcia’s books. The first book, titled "A World of Its Own: Race Labor, And Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970," surveys the social and cultural underpinnings of Los Angeles through the lens of the citrus industry and its workers. The second is titled “From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement,” and investigates the United Farm Workers Union and their leader Cesar Chavez using oral histories and UFW primary source materials. The collection covers the years 1883 to 2014. This collection also contains written work from several of his students, pertaining to social and cultural histories of Chicana/o individuals, as well as several papers written by Matt Garcia himself.

The bulk of the collection consists of research materials, with two smaller series of biographical and teaching materials. The biographical materials include Matt Garcia’s personal papers and correspondence, including employment information from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. These also include fellowship requests and letters, Claremont Graduate School registration documents, school notes, and assignments dating to 1992. The teaching materials include class syllabi, assignment descriptions, and written work turned in by students of Matt Garcia who took part in the undergraduate courses he taught. These include class papers on Latin and American history, as well as Chicana/o studies courses. The research materials Dr. Garcia gathered and created in preparation for writing his books are significant in terms of both their volume and content. Many of the notes and newspaper clippings are associated with “Arbol Verde” and the history of the area, close to Claremont, which became the subject of debate when Claremont McKenna released plans to build housing in this area of historically Latina/o influence. This led into a larger debate on gentrification in the area. Along with these materials, a large part of Garcia’s research centers on several oral history interviews conducted by Dr. Garcia himself, as well as transcribed copies of interviews performed by others. There are also many photocopies of The California Citrograph, a citrus industry publication which dates back to the early 20th century.

Regarding the materials relating to his second book, many of the materials cover the history of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), their conflict with the Teamsters Union, and their numerous boycotts and labor activism. These materials come in the form of oral history interviews, publications and articles, as well as correspondence from Cesar Chavez and other UFW members. There is also a considerable portion of materials regarding Chicana/o education rights, specifically bilingual education, in the Coachella Valley region. Of particular note are profiles and oral history transcripts of two Chicana women who participated in student walkouts and supported the rights of Chicana/o students in the Coachella Valley Unified School District. There are also significant transcripts of interviews with various UFW members, who describe their experience with the union. These accounts highlight both postive and negative aspects of the union, the leadership, and management practices.


  • Creation: 1883-2016 and undated

Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: English and Spanish.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

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

Biography / Administrative History

Matthew J. (Matt) Garcia was born in Upland, California. A third-generation Californian, Dr. Garcia is a historian of agriculture, immigration, labor, and ethnicity in twentieth-century California. He received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley (1991) and his Ph.D. in History from the Claremont Graduate School (1997) with a concentration on Mexican American history, immigration history, history of California, history of the American West, American popular culture, and labor history. His research focuses mainly on Latin American, Latina/o, and Mexican American history and culture, agriculture, and labor. These research interests also have a more direct and personal connection, since much of Dr. Garcia’s family history is rooted in the rural farming areas of Southern California. His maternal grandfather worked for the Sunkist Company as a data analyst while his father’s parents worked in the California fields owned by Sunkist. Dr. Garcia is currently the Ralph and Richard Lazarus Professor of History, Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, and Human Relations at Dartmouth College, as well as the chair of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies.

Dr. Garcia’s books and articles have explored the origins of inequality in the U.S. food labor system, with a specific interest in the struggles of immigrant farm laborers in rural California. His first book, “A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970” (2001), traced the history of inter-ethnic cooperation among citrus laborers in the Pomona and San Gabriel Valleys. In 2012, Dr. Garcia edited the volume “Mapping Latina/o Studies for the Twenty-First Century,” a series of essays exploring the field of Latina/o Studies. Dr. Garcia’s second book, “From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement” (2012) is a comprehensive history of the rise and fall of the United Farm Workers, for which he won the Taft Award for Best Book in Labor History. In 2017, he co-edited the volume “Food Across Borders,” an essay collection on contemporary food cultures. Garcia’s peer-reviewed articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, Boom: A Journal of California, and Gastronomica: A Journal of Food and Culture.

In addition to his research and writing activities, Dr. Garcia is the former outreach director and co-primary investigator for the Bracero Archive Project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 2008. In addition, he was the recipient of the Best Public History Award by the National Council for Public History in 2009-2010.

Dr. Garcia’s first position was as an assistant professor of History and Latina/o Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. From 2000-2003, Dr. Garcia worked at the University of Oregon as an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies and History. In 2001, he published his first book: “A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970.” This work has earned many accolades including: Co-winner, best book (biannual award), Oral History Association, 2003; Honorable Mention, John Hope Franklin Prize for best book, American Studies Association, 2003; Honorable Mention, Lora Romero Prize for best first book, American Studies Association, 2003.

At Brown University, Dr. Garcia was an Associate Professor of American Civilization, Ethnic Studies and History, from 2003-2011. While working at Brown University, Dr. Garcia was also the Interim Director at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America from 2005-2006.

After leaving Brown, Dr. Garcia became a Professor at the School of Transborder Studies and the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University from 2011-2017. From 2012-2017, Dr. Garcia also served at the Directory of the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State. Dr. Garcia’s second book, “From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement,” was published in 2012. That same year Dr. Garcia co-edited “Mapping Latina/o Studies for the Twenty-First Century.”

Dr. Garcia’s most recent book, “Food Across Borders,” was published in 2017. His most current project is titled “Eli and the Octopus: The Man Who Failed to Tame United Fruit Company,” and is under contract with Harvard University Press. The book will be about the life and death of Eli Black, an immigrant who wrestled with the United Fruit Company, and the events’ relevance to modern multinational corporations. Dr. Garcia was awarded a senior fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies (ACLS) to complete “Eli and the Octopus.”

Further information can be found on Dr. Garcia's personal website:


16.4 Linear Feet ((13 record boxes, 1 document box, 1 oversize document box, 1 oversize flat box, 1 shoe box) )


The collection consists of research, writing, and teaching materials created by author, educator, and historian Matthew J. Garcia. The materials document Dr. Garcia’s work on topics related to agriculture, labor, food, immigration, ethnicity, and popular culture in California. Primary subjects of interest include the citrus industry and Mexican-American laborers in Southern California, especially the Farm Labor movement under Cesar Chavez. The collection is comprised of research materials, oral histories, correspondence, photographs, academic writings, and conference presentations, as well as course materials from classes taught by Garcia at various universities. The research materials and writings in this collection were created in the process of writing two books, "A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970" and "From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement."

Organization and Arrangement

This collection is organized into the following series:

Series 1. Biographical Materials, 1991-2014

Series 2. Research Materials and Writings, 1883-2016 and undated

Series 3. Teaching Materials, 1992-2014 and undated

The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance / Source of Acquisition

Gift of Matt Garcia, 2017.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Separated Materials

The following monograph items can be found in Library Search using the Uniform Title, "Matt Garcia Papers" or copying and pasting the following into the Search Box for Library Search: ut:Matt Garcia Papers.

Garcia, Matt. A world of its own: race, labor, and citrus in the making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, [2001]. Call no: XC14 .G372 2001, copy 2.

Garcia, Matt. From the jaws of victory: the triumph and tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement. Berkeley: University of California Press, ©2012. Call no: XC14.G372 J3 2012, copy 2.

Garcia, Matthew and Valdivia, Angharad N. Mapping Latina/o studies: an interdisciplinary reader. New York: Peter Lang, ©2012. Call no: XC14.G372 M37 2012.

Processing Information

This collection was processed to assure preservation of the older materials and to better assist researchers looking for specific information. Materials were removed from their original folders and rehoused in archival folders and boxes. Processing also included placing photographs in mylar sleeves, removing harmful fasteners, eliminating duplicates, and unfolding documents. Folder contents were kept in original order whenever possible, but some materials were combined with like materials pertaining to similar subject matter. This was done to facilitate access, and preserve space in the collection and the archives. In some cases, Garcia wrote inventories on his folders; these pages have been extracted and placed at the front of the new acid-free folders. Oversize items were spearated and rehoused in oversize folders.

Matt Garcia Papers
Finding aid prepared by Sara Chetney, MA and Sean Buchanan
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections & Archives, The Claremont Colleges Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States