Using the Collection

Digitized items in the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee collection can be accessed through the UCLA Library Digital Collections(opens in a new tab) and UC Calisphere(opens in a new tab) platforms. Physical items are available for research and are located in our off-site storage facility (Southern Regional Library Facility). Request physical items using the "Special Collections Request" links in the UC Library Search catalog record(opens in a new tab). View our video tutorial(opens in a new tab) or contact Library Special Collections(opens in a new tab) for more help on how to request items.

The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee records finding aid(opens in a new tab) with full collection details can be viewed in the Online Archive of California (OAC).

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About the Collection

The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (formerly the Citizen's Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth) formed in 1942 in reaction to the indictment of 22 young men — all but one of whom were Mexican American — for murder. 12 defendants were eventually convicted of first degree murder. The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee raised funds to appeal the case and roused public opinion through education and publicity programs. In 1944 the original judgment was overturned by the District Court of Appeal of the state of California, 2nd Appellate District.

This collection contains correspondence, publications, publicity materials, radio scripts, office records, a transcript of the Sleepy Lagoon trial, and research materials including articles about Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Portions of the collection are in Spanish.

Related Collections

Related collections include the personal papers of Carey McWilliams(opens in a new tab), who served as chair of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee; Alice Greenfield McGrath(opens in a new tab); and author Guy Endore(opens in a new tab). UCLA oral history interviews with McWilliams(opens in a new tab), McGrath(opens in a new tab) and Endore(opens in a new tab) also discuss the case. The Los Angeles Times (ca. 1918–1990)(opens in a new tab) and Los Angeles Daily News (1923–1954) photographic archives(opens in a new tab) provide historic images of the events published in the press. Documents and photographs from these collections and the complete trial transcripts have been digitized and made available on the Online Archive of California (OAC)(opens in a new tab).

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