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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 4383618

Harry Renton Bridges Deportation Hearing Transcripts and Records


Transcripts of the first and second deportation hearings of Harry Bridges. Bridges, a San Francisco labor leader and Australian citizen who entered the United States in 1920, underwent two failed deportation attempts between 1938 and 1945 for his alleged affiliation with the Communist Party. The collection also includes briefs, hearing opinions and appeal, and the court opinion regarding Bridges' petition for writ of habeas corpus.


  • 1939 - 1943

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.


1 collection (4 Paige boxes)

The bulk of the Bridges collection consists of two series of stenotype transcripts of both of union leader Harry Bridges' two deportation proceedings. The political and judicial turmoil of the Bridges deportation case lasted for four years and involved both judicial and legislative bodies. The documents in this collection largely stem from Bridges' two hearings before the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States Department of Justice.

The transcripts of the first deportation hearing are collected in seven volumes, numbered pages 1 through 7724. The transcripts from Bridges' second deportation hearing fill six volumes, which are divided into daily sections that are labeled volumes 1 through 44. The last volume of the second deportation series contains a descriptive index of exhibits.

In addition to these two series of transcripts, the Bridges collection also includes three separately compiled volumes of deportation hearing documents:

  1. " Summation and Memo for Alien " which includes, in place of the oral argument for the firstdeportation hearing, an INS Summation and a Memorandum for the Alien.
  2. " Findings, Briefs and Decisions" includes the Findings and Conclusions of the Trial Examinerin the first Bridges deportation hearing. The rest of the volume ismade up of documents from the second deportation hearing: the OpeningBrief on Behalf of Bridges, Opinion of the Board of ImmigrationAppeals, and Memorandum of Decision.
  3. " The opinion and order of the District Court of the U.S. for the Northern District of California in the matter of the petition of Harry Bridges for a writ of habeas corpus," written by Martin I. Welsh, United States District Judge in1943 (49 F. Supp. 292).

Biographical / Historical

Harry Renton Bridges, a San Francisco labor leader and an Australian citizen who entered the United States in 1920, underwent two failed deportation attempts between 1938 and 1945 for his alleged affiliation with the Communist Party. This collection contains the official records and transcripts of both hearings.

Bridges was born in 1901 in Melbourne, Australia and settled in San Francisco in 1920 where he became an organizer of the longshoremen. As a labor organizer, he played an important role in the 1934 San Francisco strike. Two years later Bridges became the founding president of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU).

In 1938 the government instituted a deportation proceeding against Bridges pursuant to a law allowing deportation of individuals who are, at the time the proceeding is instituted and being prosecuted, members of or affiliated with an organization that advises, advocates, and teaches the overthrow by force and violence of the U.S. government. Bridges requested that the government name the organization and the government stated it was the Communist Party of the U.S. In December 1939 the Trial Examiner found that Bridges was neither a member of nor affiliated with the Communist Party and therefore could not be deported.

In 1940, in response to the failure to deport Bridges, the United States House of Representatives amended the law relating to the deportation of aliens to allow for deportation of those who were at the time they entered the U.S. or any time thereafter a member of or affiliated with an organization that advices, advocates, and teaches the overthrow by force and violence the U.S. government. The Attorney General then ordered the F.B.I. to investigate Bridges to see if there was cause under the amended law to reopen deportation proceedings. Bridges was again arrested in 1941.

The Presiding Inspector in the second deportation proceedings ordered deportation on the basis of finding that after entering the U.S. Bridges was a member of and affiliated with the Communist Party. The Immigration Appeals Board reversed. The Attorney General reviewed the case and ordered deportation. Bridges petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus but was denied by the District Court for the Northern District of CA. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Bridges v. Wixon, 144 F.2d 927 (9th Cir. 1944). The Supreme Court reversed, 326 U.S. 135 (1945), on a 5-3 ruling that "affiliation" was improperly construed by the appellate court and that under a proper construction, Bridges had not been affiliated with the Communist Party at any time after entering the U.S.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Murphy wrote, "Seldom if ever in the history of this nation has there been such a concentrated and relentless crusade to deport an individual because he dared to exercise the freedom that belongs to him as a human being and that is guaranteed to him by the Constitution." The trials received national attention, thanks in large part to the Song for Bridges written and sung by Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Millard Lampell.

Bridges became a U.S. citizen in 1945. Under Bridges' leadership the ILWU continued to grow in size and influence, and took an active stand against the Korean and Vietnam wars. Bridges passed away in 1990, and in 2001 the city of San Francisco honored Bridges by naming a plaza on the Embarcadero in his honor.

Series List

  1. Series I. First Bridges Deportation Hearing, July 10, 1939 - September 14, 1939 July 10, 1939 - September 14, 1939
  2. Series II. Second Bridges Deportation Hearing, March 31, 1941 - June 12, 1941.March 31, 1941 - June 12, 1941.

    Note: Exhibits for the Second deportationhearing are described in an Exhibit Index, Box 4, included with vols.39-44

  3. Series III. Other Case Documents

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dean J.M. Landis to the Harvard Law School Library, March 6, 1940.

Processing Information

Processed by Julia Meier, June 2004.

Harry Renton Bridges. Deportation Hearing Transcripts and Records, 1939-1943: Finding Aid
Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, MA 02138
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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