Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Elwin T. and Marjorie J. Brawthen
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Elwin "Al' Brawthen was born in 1913 and grew up in Minneapolis. His father was an immigrant from Norway, and his mother was a Norwegian American. His father owned a small hotel, and so it was natural for Al to find employment in the hotel trade when the Depression prevented him from going to the University of Minnesota. Working at various hotels and clubs, he ran into organizers for Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local #665, and some left-wing radicals. He soon joined the union, and became a shop steward at the Hotel Radisson. Additionally, Mr. Brawthen served as president of the American Peace Mobilization (which operated out of the union office). When World War II broke out he joined the army and spent several years on the home front, including at Camp Ripley, before being sent to Africa and Europe. Upon his return, he found it difficult to retain employment because he was suspected of being a Communist. At one point he was even threatened with prosecution under the Smith Act. Eventually he found a job with an insurance company, and ceased his involvement with labor unions. Marjorie Brawthen was born in 1921 in Oregon. She married Walter Young in 1938, and the couple enrolled at Commonwealth College in Mena, Arkansas. After only a year there, Walter decided to switch to the Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School in Minneapolis. Margie secured a job at Miller's Cafeteria, and was swept almost immediately into a strike called by Local #665 in 1941. During the war the Youngs moved to Ironwood, Michigan, where Mr. Young was the business agent for a local of the International Woodworkers of America, and Mrs. Young began to raise their six children. Mr. Young was drafted into the army and served in the Pacific theater, then returned to the Upper Peninsula and the timberworkers. It is unclear how their marriage ended, or when Margie Young married Al Brawthen. At the time of the interview the Brawthens were retired and living in California. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Strikes by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local #574 in Minneapolis, 1934. Organizational drive for Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local #665. Memories of Swan Assarson. American Peace Mobilization activities in Minneapolis, late 1930s. Surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Military Intelligence. Service in World War II. Working conditions for letter carriers, 1940s. Threat of prosecution under the Smith Act, late 1940s. Difficulty of holding a job, due to accusations of communist sympathies. Description of working conditions in the hotel industry in the 1930s; comparisons of small hotels to large ones; memories of the Minneapolis Club. Union meetings; impressions of local president George Naumoff. Miller's Cafeteria strike, 1941: estimation of its effectiveness; activities at strike headquarters; raising money for the strike fund; description of the workforce and conditions. Memories of Swan Assarson. Memories of the Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training Institute, 1940s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: The bulk of the interview is with Mr. Brawthen. Mrs. Brawthen's memories are rather sketchy. As far as union activity goes, both. were rank-and-file members, rather than leaders.
Quantity 2 hours sound cassette
29 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:32:41 running time
Creation Interviewee: Brawthen, Elwin T.
Interviewee: Brawthen, Mrs. Marjorie J.
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in California, United States
Subjects Made in California, United States
Dates Creation: 03/13/1982
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.49
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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