The California Labor School (CLS), formerly the Tom Mooney Labor School (renamed in 1945),[1] was an educational house in San Francisco from 1942 to the 1950s. David Jenkins was the initial director and Holland Roberts was the first education director for this "people's school." [1] The school was founded in August 1942, in premises above a car saleroom at 678 Turk Street, and named for labor leader Tom Mooney who had died on 6 March that year. It later moved to a 5-story building at 216 Market Street, and in 1947 bought premises at 240 Golden Gate Avenue.[2]

The school was supported by 72 trade unions, members of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.[1] Its initial program "promised to analyze social, economic and political questions in light of the present world struggle against fascism".[2] It also taught the arts: the teenage Maya Angelou had a scholarship to study dance and drama.[3] The school taught students on many subjects such as labor organization, journalism, music, drama, history, women's studies, economics and industrial arts.[1] Union officials and professors from Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley taught the courses at CLS.[1] The most popular course at the CLS called "Mental Hygiene Today" was taught by Erik Erikson.[4] The most important history course was called "History and Problems of the Negro in America.".[4] The school offered different kinds of services such as preparing union pamphlets and newspapers, conducting dance concerts and theatrical shows at local meetings.[4]

From 1945 to 1947 the school was accredited for veterans' education under the G.I. Bill of Rights, and by 1947 there were 220 full-time students, among the 1800 students attending 135 classes. In 1948 the school was placed on the Subversive List and attendances declined. The school closed in the 1950s.[2]

Archives of the school's material are held in the Labor Archives & Research Center of California State University[5] and the University of Michigan.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Finding Aid for the California Labor School Records, 1942-1955". University of Michigan: Special Collections Library. Retrieved 15 April 2013.  Includes several paragraphs about the school
  2. ^ a b c "California Labor School". Social Networks and Archival Context Project. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Biography". Official Website. Maya Angelou. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Robert W., Cherny (2004). "East and West Coast Communist Schools". In William, Issel; Kieran Walsh, Taylor. American Labor and the Cold War: Grassroots Politics and Postwar Politics. New Jersey: Rutgers University. pp. 207–208. ISBN 0-8135-3403-8. 
  5. ^ "Inventory of the California Labor School Collection, 1942 - 1957". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Re: Workmen's Educational Association - San Francisco". H-LABOR@H-NET.MSU.EDU. 26 July 2000. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 

External sources