Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Clara, John and Peter Jorgensen
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Clara Jorgensen was born on a farm in Pine County in 1913, one of nine children. She completed only the eighth grade in school, before starting to work on the farm full-time. In 1934 she married John Jorgensen, and they started their own dairy farm. Peter and John Jorgensen left Denmark in 1919 for Minnesota. John and Clara and Pete were all active in the Farm Holiday Association and the Farmer-Labor Party. Clara and Pete actually joined the Communist Party, while John sympathized strongly with it. Pete Jorgensen left Pine County around 1936 to participate in some of the labor struggles in the Twin Cities. In 1937 he volunteered for the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, and fought in the Spanish Civil War, where he was wounded. When he returned from Spain, he continued to work and organize in the Twin Cities until after the Second World War. Then he came back to Pine County to help John and Clara on their farm. At the time of the interview, all three were living in and around Askov, Minnesota. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Description of the Cloquet-Noose Lake fire of 1918. Farming on the cut-over land of Pine County, 1910s and 1920s. Comparisons of the United Farmers League and the Farm Holiday Association. Memories of Lement Harris and his daughter, Sally. Description of the second national farmers' relief conference in 1934. Traveling speakers for various Communist Party groups: Reino Tantilla, Ruth Shaw, James Flower. Memories of socialist activities in Denmark around the time of World War I. Commonwealth College in Mena, Arkansas. Organizing farmers for the United Farmers League and Farm Holiday Association. Red-baiting in the 1930s and 1950s. Pete Jorgensen's experiences in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion: deciding to enlist; the trip to Spain; battles; hospitalization; democratic decision-making in the Battalion. Pine County Farmer-Labor Party: Hjalmar Petersen and the Jorgensens. Harassment by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Memories of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red-baiting of the 1950s. Assessment of the Communist Party, and of its treatment of the Trotskyists. Efforts to deport Peter Warhol, 1940s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: The interview is quite informative and vivid. Peter Jorgensen's recollections of the Spanish Civil War are particularly strong. All the interviewees are forthcoming about their communist sympathies. There is a loud machine buzz on the first side of the first tape, and a young child having a conversation in the background. This makes accurate transcription difficult. The transcript is only partially edited, and the spellings of many names are approximate. There was some confusion between the voices of Peter and John Jorgensen, and in some places they can only be identified as "M", or male speaker. RESTRICTIONS ON USE: Interview cannot be quoted directly for publication.
Quantity 2 hours sound cassette
35 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 02:02:59 running time
Creation Interviewee: Jorgensen, Clara
Interviewee: Jorgensen, John
Interviewee: Jorgensen, Peter
Interviewer: O'Connell, Thomas
Interviewer: Trimble, Steve
Made in Askov, Pine County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Askov, Pine County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 11/01/1976
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.65
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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