Clara Fraser papers, 1905-1983  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Fraser, Clara, 1923-1998
Title
Clara Fraser papers
Dates
1905-1983 (inclusive)
Quantity
0.77 cubic feet (3 boxes) plus 1 sound cassette
Collection Number
3187 (Accession No. 3187-002)
Summary
Materials related to the activities surrounding the lawsuit Clara Fraser vs. City Light.; pamphlets regarding radicalism collected by Fraser (1905-1949); and an oral history interview with Fraser by Charlotte McAllister (1970).
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access.

Languages
English


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Clara Fraser was born Clara Doris Goodman in Los Angeles on March 12, 1923 to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Samuel and Emma Goodman. Her father was an anarchist and her mother worked in the garment industry. She grew up in a multi-racial neighborhood, the East Side ghetto of Los Angeles, which Fraser described as a very poor, but highly political environment. While in junior high school in the 1930s, Clara joined the Young People’s Socialist League, prompted by the despair of the Great Depression. In 1939 to 1945, Fraser attended UCLA and graduated with degrees in literature, education, and drama. She then joined the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in 1945. After marrying at the age of 18, she and her first husband, Frank Krasnowsky, moved to Chicago. They then moved to Seattle to organize a Socialist Workers Party during the post-war era. Working as an assembly line electrician at Boeing, Fraser participated in the Boeing Strike of 1948. During the 1950s and 1960s, Fraser was very active in labor socialist politics. She worked vigorously to end racial segregation and the Vietnam War. She also supported women’s rights. In 1966 when the Seattle branch of the Socialist Workers Party left the organization, Fraser helped form the Freedom Socialist Party. Fraser and other feminists began a Free University of Seattle class titled "Marx and the Women's Question" which was the beginning of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Washington. Soon after, she joined the original Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center (SOIC) and CEP, the job training arms of the anti-poverty program. She became a consultant on feminism and race relations for many public agencies. In 1967, Fraser, along with Gloria Martin and the young women of the New Left, founded Radical Women. Radical Women worked with and supported African American anti-poverty programs, Native American fishing rights, and Asian American protests for low-income housing.

After being fired from SOIC, Seattle City Light hired Fraser in 1973 as an education coordinator of the Electrical Trades Trainee Program for women. On July 11, 1975, Seattle City Light fired her, claiming that her dismissal was due to budgetary cuts. The Seattle Department of Human Rights, directed under Vivian L. Caver, a black woman civil rights and political activist, found that Fraser was discriminated because of her public affiliation with the Feminist Coordinating Council, Radical Women, and the Freedom Socialist Party. When the workers of Seattle City Light rose up against Superintendent Gordon Vickery, director of the agency, in 1974, Fraser was the leading critic and spokesperson for the massive employee walkout. She then became involved with a recall campaign against Mayor Wes Uhlman.

A legendary case not only in Seattle but across the nation, Fraser garnered broad support from local and national labor, feminist, gay, and labor unions, women’s groups, the LGBT community, and minority groups including the Black Panther Party chapters in Los Angeles and Seattle, the Native American Rights Advocate, and the Asian Law Association. In 1981, the court ruled in favor of Fraser, upholding protection for employees against sex and political discrimination. Seattle City Light was ordered to award her $135,265.00 in back pay, damages, and interests, reinstatement of her retirement account, social security contributions, and restoration of sick leave, dental and vacation benefits.

Fraser died on February 24, 1998 in Seattle, Washington.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Materials include correspondence, newsletters, press releases, and newspaper articles relating to the activities surrounding the lawsuit Clara Fraser vs. City Light and an oral history interview with Fraser by Charlotte McAllister (1970). Also included are pamphlets and booklets regarding radicalism, industrial unionism, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, Marxism, socialism, feminism, anti-war efforts, and anti-capitalism collected by Fraser (1905-1949).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Listen to the audio recording of this interview on the Libraries Digital Collections site.

Restrictions on Use

Copyrights retained by creator. Contact University of Washington Libraries Special Collections for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Series 1:  Clara Fraser vs City LightReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Progressive Mothers' League
Four short articles concerning the political and economic position of women
1954
1/2
Clippings
Articles about gender discrimination, Clara Fraser, and the City Light case
1972-1981
1/3
News Releases
United Feminist Front, Clara Fraser Defense Committee
1980-1982
1/4
"Clara Fraser vs. Seattle City Light" Newsletters
1980-1981
1/5
TV Editorial by Don McGaffin
Regarding Clara Fraser vs. Seattle City Light
1980-1981
1/6
Statements of Support
Gay Community Center, Dr. Katherine Grant-Bourne, National Lawyers Guild, Seattle Tenant's Union
1980-1981
1/7
Correspondence
Melba Windoffer, Clara Fraser Defense Committee
1980-1983
1/8
Memos, phone lists, & proposed resolutions
1980-1982
1/9
Event Handbills
1980-1982
1/10
Clippings
Clara Fraser and discrimination
1980
1/11
Clippings
The Freedom Socialist, Beacon Hill News, Seattle Gay News, The New Portland Observer, The Asian Family Affair
1980-1983
1/12
Ephemera - Labor Issues
1945-1958
1/13
Ephemera
Washington State black employment, United Liberals & Socialist Party, Freedom Socialist Party, Young Socialist Alliance, Communist Party of Washington
1956-1964

Series 2:  Collection of radicalist pamphletsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries 1: Socialism
Box/Folder
2/1
"Wage-Labor and Capital" by Karl Marx
1899
2/2
"Morals and Socialism" by Charles H. Kerr
1899
2/3
"Socialists in French Municipalities" by Charles H. Kerr
undated
2/4
"Socialism's New Beginnings" by Miles
1934
2/5
"English Methods of Birth Control" by Margaret Sanger
1915
2/6
"Socialism vs. Single Tax"
1906
2/7
"The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand" by C.W. Woolridge, MD
undated
2/8
"The Truth About Father Coughlin" by A.B. Magil
1935
2/9
"Draft for a Program for the Socialist Party of the United States
1935
2/10
"Problems of Revolutionary Socialism" by Haim Kantorovitch
1936
2/11
"Letter of an Old Bolshevik"
1937
2/12
"Comrades and Friends" by Margaret Sanger
1915
2/13
"The Twelves and You" by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
1948
2/14
"Inside Job!" by Herb Tank
1947
2/15
"How to Win the Masses" by John Henry Baldwin
1944
2/16
"Lenin on Relations Between Socialist States" by Milovan Djilas
1949
2/17
"On People's Democracy in Yugoslavia" by Edward Kardelj
1949
Subseries 2: Industrial Unionism
Box/Folder
2/18
"By-Laws of the Construction Workers Industrial Union no. 573"
1919
2/19
"The Burning Question of Trades Unionism" by Daniel DeLeon
undated
2/20
"Industrial Relations Commission" by Fred D. Warren
1915
2/21
"Bats in the Belfry" by William Gropper
undated
2/22
"Communist Election Platform"
1932
2/23
"How One Big Union Works: An Australian Example" by A.D. Dodds
undated
2/24
"The Dictatorship of the Profiteering Class" by Henry M. Tischenor
undated
2/25
"Has Religion Been a Promoter of Retarder of Civilization?" by Rosa Markus
1915
2/26
"Industrial Conspiracies" by Clarence S. Darrow
1912
2/27
"Set the 12 Men Free" by Henry E. Boote
undated
2/28
"Socialist Industrial Unionism: The Worker's Power" by Eric Hass
1943-1946
2/29
"The Crimes of the 'Times'" by Upton Sinclair
undated
2/30
"Labor Fights for Social Security"
1935
3/1
"The Social General Strike" by Arnold Roller
1905
3/2
"The Slander of the Toilers" by George R. Kirkpatrick
1919
3/3
"The Advancing Proletariat" by Abner E. Woodruff
1919
3/4
"The Dictatorship of the Proletariat" by L. Kameneff
undated
3/5
"Communist Election Platform"
1938
3/6
"Union-Smashing in Sacramento" by Herbert Solow
1935
3/7
"Industrial Unionism and Revolution" by Philip Kurinsky
undated
3/8
"Should the Workers Increase Output?" by W.F. Watson
1920
3/9
"The Social and Economic Lies of Our Civilization" by T. Swann Harding
undated
3/10
"ABC of Parliamentary Law" by August Claessens and Rebecca E. Jarvis
1936
Subseries 3: Washington Labor
Box/Folder
3/11
"Vote NO on the Smash-the-Union Movement in Washington"
1938
3/12
"A Fair Trial?: A record of the prejudice and passion that dominated the legal profession and the press in the famous Centralia labor case" by Frank Walkin
1920
3/13
"The Siamese Twins - Profits and Poverty"
undated
Subseries 4: Industrial Workers of the World
Box/Folder
3/14
"Industrial Unionism and the IWW" by Vincent St. John
undated
3/15
"Evolution of American Agriculture" by Abner E. Woodruff
1919
3/16
"The Advancing Proletariat" by Abner E. Woodruff
1919
3/17
"Proletarian and Petit-Bourgeois" by Austin Lewis
approximately 1912-1914
3/18
"The IWW: Its History, Structure, and Methods" by Vincent St. John
1919
Subseries 5: Anti-War
Box/Folder
3/19
"Stopping a War" by Scott Nearing
1926
3/20
"Political Report of the Central Committee of the CPY [Communist Party of Yugoslavia]" by Josip Broz Tito
1948
3/21
"Youth Fights War!" by Gus Tyler
undated
3/22
"Are You Ready for War?" by Hal Draper
undated
3/23
"Against Both War Camps" by Victor Howard
1948
Subseries 6: Socialist Literature
Box/Folder
3/24
"Now and Then: A Play in Two Acts" by Frederick Krafft
1901
3/25
The Plutocrat" by George L. Ayere
undated
3/26
"The Scarlet Review: Collection of Revolutionary Material Worth Reprinting," an IWW publication, The Equity Printing Company, Seattle, Washington
approximately 1918-1919
3/27
"Castaways of Plenty" by Willard E. Hawkins
1945

Series 3:  Interview with Clara FraserReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
cassette
Drawer 1, Tape 27
Tape-recorded interview with Clara Fraser by Charlotte McAllister
Fraser states that Marx and Engels first described the black struggle in terms of the Civil War as a struggle of two classes and types of social organization. They looked on the war as a second "American Revolution." The IWW and Socialist Party first notices the black struggle shortly after 1900 when Booker T. Washington was their leader. She continues to discuss the different views towards blacks by the Socialists and Communists.
Listen to the audio recording of this interview on the Libraries Digital Collections site.
January 1970

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Labor movement--United States
  • Political parties--United States
  • Radicalism
  • Socialist parties--United States
  • Corporate Names :
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • Industrial Workers of the World
  • Socialist Workers Party