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H. L. Mitchell Collection

 Collection
Identifier: L1972-85

Scope and Contents of the Collection

H.L. Mitchell Collection, 1970-1981, consists of correspondence, book reviews, clippings, flyers, speeches, and other materials relating to H.L. Mitchell and the Southern Tenant Farmers Association.

Dates

  • 1970-1981

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biography of H.L. Mitchell

Harry Leland Mitchell was a lifelong union activist and co-founder of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) in eastern Arkansas, one of the first integrated labor unions in the United States. The STFU was unique among unions in “encouraging members to leave,” helping them find a life outside tenant farming.

H. L. Mitchell was born on June 14, 1906, to Maude Ella Stanfield and James Young Mitchell, a tenant farmer and sometime preacher in Halls, Tennessee. Mitchell attended school sporadically while working various jobs to help support his family. He sharecropped, worked in a clothing store, and ran a one-pump gas station. He finally graduated from Halls High School in 1925.

He married Lyndell “Dell” Carmack on December 26, 1926, settling on the Carmack farm to sharecrop while his wife taught school. She earned $60 a month teaching school, and Mitchell netted $185 from sharecropping in 1927. He was sharecropping on land owned by his in-laws, with earnings higher than the average sharecropper, who generally ended a growing season owing money to planters (landlords) for food, seed, and other necessities. His brief sharecropping experience led the ever–socially conscious Mitchell to consider the merits of the Socialist Party set forth in the “Little Blue Books” published by E. Haldeman-Julius of Girard, Kansas.

Eleven white and seven black men formed the STFU in July 1934 to be their voice. Mitchell was one of the co-founders, serving as executive secretary for eight years. The STFU was renamed the National Farm Labor Union, and its offices moved to Washington DC from Memphis in 1948. Mitchell’s wife, Lyndell, chose not to go to Washington, so they amicably divorced, with Mitchell marrying Dorothy Dowe, another STFU officer, in 1951.

Mitchell organized other unions, including the Amalgamated Meat Cutters (part of the AFL-CIO), and the National Agricultural Workers Union. He remained active in labor organizations, including the historic STFU, until his death on August 1, 1989, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet (in 8 folders)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

H.L. Mitchell Collection, 1970-1981, consists of correspondence, book reviews, clippings, flyers, speeches, and other materials relating to H.L. Mitchell and the Southern Tenant Farmers Association. Harry Leland Mitchell was a lifelong union activist and co-founder of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) in eastern Arkansas, one of the first integrated labor unions in the United States. The STFU was unique among unions in “encouraging members to leave,” helping them find a life outside tenant farming.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by H.L. Mitchell in multiple accessions: September 19, 1972 (L1972-85), January 1, 1974 (L1974-02), May 26, 1975 (L1975-20) August 17, 1976 (L1976-37), July 6, 1982 (L1982-13). Three other accessions (L1974-26, L1974-50, L1975-06) consisted of published mongraphs that have been added to the department book collection.

Separated Materials

During processing various materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Printed Collections. For pamphlets, see the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection finding aid (note that this collection has been weeded over time). For proceedings consult archivist.

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection

  1. Leon B. Schachter Testimonial, 1971 (24 leaves)
  2. Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America proceedings, 1960-1964

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection

  1. 18 pamphlets regarding farm workers, civil rights, organizing, plantation workers, nursing and union history
  2. 3 pamphlets concerning the history of farm workers and rural history

Processing Information

Processed by F.P. Mullins and Robert Dinwiddie at the file level (L1972-85), E.L.E. Mize at the file level (L1974-02), Faye Gamel (L1975-24), Alice Gernazian (L1976-37), and Robert Dinwiddie (L1982-13) at the file level. Earlier finding aids combined.
Title
H. L. Mitchell:
Subtitle
A Guide to his Collection at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
August 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)