CALIFORNIA COLLECTION: Clarksburg, California – “Mexican Workers” (1942)

Floyd Halleck Higgins was born on May 15, 1886, in Keokuk, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State College in Ames, he moved to Chicago and western Canada to work in a variety of public relations positions including Director of Public Relations, National Association of Farm Equipment Manufacturers (1922-1926). Higgins moved to California in 1927 where he became the News Editor for Caterpillar Tractor Company. He immediately found that farm machinery history “was gathered by each company’s ad men when they needed to get up something for a ‘special number’ of some publication in which its ads appeared.” In self defense, Higgins began collecting materials relating to the origins of combines and tractors but his interests expanded to include all forms of farm mechanization.
In 1933, Caterpillar moved its corporate headquarters to Peoria, Illinois. Higgins chose to stay in California where he worked as a free-lance writer. His articles appeared in Pacific Rural Press , Farm Implement News, Diesel Progress, Rice Journal , and other agricultural journals. He used every opportunity to interview “the men who were there” and create an historical record supported by material in his ever-growing collection.

In 1959, Higgins sold his collection of more than ninety file cabinet drawers of research materials, to the University of California, Davis. The University Library hired him to remain the curator of the collection, a position he held until 1972 when ill health forced him to retire. He died on February 28, 1975.

Floyd Halleck Higgins Photographs of Mexican Sugar Beet Workers, D-494, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.

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