Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 461
Farmers' Holiday Movement Collection, 1932-1934, undated

Descriptive summary

title: Farmers' Holiday Movement Collection
dates: 1932-1934, undated
extent: 0.42 linear feet (1 document box)
collection number: MS 461
repository: Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: Farmers' Holiday Movement Collection, MS 461, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Historical note

The Farmers' Holiday movement was a depression era movement which carried out withholding actions in an effort to win a guarantee of cost of production prices for farm products. The movement was organized through a national Farmers' Holiday Association and state Farmers' Holiday organizations.

The Farmers' Holiday Association was organized in 1932 under the leadership of Milo Reno in response to the perception by farmers that low market prices prevented them from meeting mortgage and tax payments, forcing them to give up their homes and farms. Members of the Association, primarily Midwestern farmers, voted in goods until such time as parity was guaranteed and some form of relief provided for mortgage payments and taxes. Not only did farmers withhold produce, they picketed highways in an effort to stop other goods from reaching markets, intimidated prospective buyers at foreclosure and sheriff's sales, and exerted pressure on the courts and legislatures to adopt what they believed to be appropriate measures. Responding to these measures, authorities employed sheriffs, militia, and vigilante groups to control or prevent strike activities and ensure the continued transport of farm produce as well as the orderly disposal of farm property. Confrontations between the two groups were frequently violent and marked by a good deal of destruction, particularly in the Wisconsin Milk Strike. In Iowa the movement centered in the northwest region of the state, especially around Sioux City where railroad bridges were burned and brawls occurred frequently along highway picket lines. The most widely publicized event took place in Le Mars, Iowa, where Judge C. C. Bradley was dragged from his bench, physically and verbally abused, and threatened with lynching in an attempt to coerce him to agree to the constitutionality of the Debtor Relief Law. By 1934, the movement subsided.


Collection description

The collection (1932-1934, undated) consists of photocopied files obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the Freedom of Information Act and includes correspondence, news clippings, and FBI reports. The documents were created or collected by the U.S. Bureau of Investigation (now the Federal Bureau of Investigation) in connection with their monitoring of the Farmers' Holiday movement in general and, in particular, the farmers' strike and picketing in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota in August and September of 1932. The files contain letters and telegrams from agents reporting on events in various towns, as well as news clippings collected by the agents. These materials were sent to the Bureau's director, J. Edgar Hoover, to keep him updated on the situation. Hoover, in turn, forwarded copies to the Attorney General's office and to President Hoover's secretary to keep them informed.


Related materials

Related materials in Special Collections and University Archives include:



The collection is in original order.


Container list







Enclosure I: Correspondence, telegrams, and news clippings, "Mob Force" circular, and information about Continental Congress of Workers and Farmers for Economic Reconstruction (Washington, D.C., May 1933)




Enclosure II: Correspondence, telegrams, news clippings, and circular for Farmers National Relief Conference (Washington, D.C., Dec. 1932)




Enclosure III: Letters and memorandums regarding complaints about alleged interference in interstate commerce of farm produce and complaints about violations of fair competition laws




Partial listing of collection contents