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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Florence Richardson Wyckoff (1905-1997), Fifty Years of Grassroots Social Activism: Volume II Families Who Follow the Crops


Families Who Follow the Crops is divided into four sections. In the opening section Wyckoff discusses her participation in the New Deal gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Culbert L. Olson and her participation in the Olson "crusade", where she became an ardent advocate in behalf of the dispossessed migrant agricultural population in California. In the second section Wyckoff chronicles her political and social life in Washington, D.C., during World War II, where she continued to lobby for migrants at the national level by fighting to maintain the existence of the Farm Security Administration and to educate congress on agricultural issues. She worked with a number of organizations including the National Consumers League, the Women's Joint Congressional Committee, the Office of Price Administration, and Food for Freedom on public education and legislative lobbying on agricultural issues. The third section begins with Wyckoff's settling in Watsonville after the war, where she became a key figure in developing health and social services in Santa Cruz County, including the establishment of the Pajaro Valley Health Council and the Visiting Nurses Association, and in influencing grassroots, community-based health and social service planning. She discusses a number of significant developments in the evolution of local social services. In the final section of the volume, Wyckoff discusses her work on the Governor's Advisory Committee on Children and Youth, to which she was first appointed by Governor Earl Warren in 1948. Her tenure on this advisory committee continued under four governors during which she continued to pursue her investigations of the needs of migrant families and children. One of the most significant developments which grew out of her work on the Children and Youth's subcommittee on Children of Seasonal Farmworkers was the organizing of the five Conferences on Families Who Follow the Crops during the late 1950s and early 1960s. As a major organizer of these events, Wyckoff and her colleagues brought together growers and migrant workers, and convened as well social workers, migrant ministers, teachers, public health workers, labor officials, and members of rural county governments, all of whom were working in different ways to address the living conditions and well-being of migrant families. Wyckoff's interdisciplinary approach in the organizing of the conferences was in itself pioneering and laid the groundwork for legislation addressing migrant health needs. This legislation established public health clinics for farm workers nationwide-- along both the eastern and western migrant streams. The volume concludes with Wyckoff's commentary on the first Conference on Families Who Follow the Crops.

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