All posts by Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

About Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs was established as the Labor History Archives at Wayne State University in 1960, with the goal of collecting and preserving original source materials relating to the development of the American labor movement. In 1975, the Walter P. Reuther Library was constructed with funds given to Wayne State University by the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, and through a supplementary grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. A later gift from the UAW funded the construction of the library's Leonard Woodcock Wing, completed in 1991. The Reuther Library is the largest labor archives in North America and is home to the collections of numerous unions and labor-related organizations. Its collection strengths extend to the political and community life of urban and metropolitan Detroit, the civil rights movement in Michigan and nationally, and women's struggles in the workplace. The Reuther Library is also the home of the Wayne State University Archives, established by the Board of Governors in 1958 in recognition of the importance and permanent value of the University's official files, records, and documents.

1933 Chicago Teachers Walkout: That Time Teachers Rioted With Textbooks and Rulers



American Federation of Teachers archivist Dan Golodner tells guest host Bart Bealmear about the 1933 Chicago Teachers Walkout, when Chicago teachers joined together to demand that they be paid in actual money and on time, rather than in scrip that wasn’t honored by local businesses and banks during the Great Depression. Paid only nine times in four years because property taxes meant to fund Chicago schools were withheld by corrupt businesses, banks, and school board members, students and teachers staged public demonstrations on the streets and in bank lobbies, ultimately shaming the banks into releasing school funds and the school board into issuing consistent paychecks.

Related Collections

AFT Inventory Part I Records

AFT Inventory Part II Records

American Federation of Teachers Publications

Mary J. Herrick Papers

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Bart Bealmear

Interviewee: Dan Golodner

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace

 

 

 

 


Assembly Line Housing: Walter P. Reuther, George Romney, and Operation Breakthrough – Part 2



In the second of a two-part series, Dr. Kristin M. Szylvian explains how racial segregation and the fear of declining property values ultimately scuttled Operation Breakthrough, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Program early in the Nixon administration to use union-made manufactured housing to create racially- and economically-integrated housing communities throughout the country. She argues that Walter Reuther and programs like Operation Breakthrough, despite its collapse, have shown that non-profit and cooperative housing can be used to create home security in disadvantaged communities, especially in the lingering wake of the home finance crisis of 2007.

 

Related Collections

UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Kristin M. Szylvian

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


Assembly Line Housing: Walter P. Reuther, George Romney, and Operation Breakthrough – Part 1



In the first of a two-part series, Dr. Kristin Szylvian explains the role of the American labor movement, and UAW president Walter Reuther in particular, in lobbying for and shaping fair housing programs and legislation in Detroit and nationally after the Second World War. That influence paved the way for an unlikely alliance in the 1960s between Reuther and George Romney, the former Republican governor of Michigan, when they joined together in the late 1960s to launch Operation Breakthrough, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program to use union-made manufactured housing to alleviate the housing crisis in minority communities while also creating job opportunities and encouraging racial and income integration in the larger community.

 

Related Collections

UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Kristin M. Szylvian

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


I Am A Man: Photographer Richard Copley Recalls His First Assignment, 50 Years After the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike



AFSCME archivist Stefanie Caloia shares photographer Richard Copley’s story of his very first and what he considers his most important assignment covering the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and, ultimately, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and memorial march.

Related Collections

AFSCME Local 1733 Records

AFSCME Office of the President: Jerry Wurf Records

1968 Sanitation Workers Strike Image Gallery

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Stefanie Caloia, excerpts from Richard Copley

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


Jessica Levy on “Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City”



Jessica Levy explains how American corporations and black entrepreneurs worked together to forge a new politics linking American business with black liberation at home and abroad, focusing particularly on Leon Howard Sullivan, a civil rights leader and board member of General Motors who used his position to influence American corporate anti-apartheid actions.

Levy is a PhD Candidate at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Continue reading Jessica Levy on “Black Power, Inc.: Global American Business and the Post-Apartheid City”


American Labor’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 U.S. Tour



Meghan Courtney, Reuther Library archivist, discusses Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to the U.S. as well as his long-term relationship with the American Labor Movement during his time in prison and after his release.

Mandela’s 12 day, 8 city fundraising tour in June 1990 took place just months after his release from 27 years in a South African prison and included visits to the AFL-CIO, AFSCME’s convention, UAW Local 600 and Tiger Stadium. Courtney explores Mandela’s philosophical alignment with the labor movement, labor’s support for anti-apartheid efforts in the U.S., and archival collections at the Reuther Library where researchers might find evidence of Mandela’s friendships and partnerships.
Continue reading American Labor’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 U.S. Tour


Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South



Dr. Julia Gunn explains how progressive civil rights politics enabled Charlotte, North Carolina, to become the nation’s second-largest largest financial capital while obscuring its intransigence towards working-class protest, including public sector sanitation workers, bus drivers, firefighters, and domestic workers. Gunn is a Critical Writing Fellow in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South


Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 2



In part 2 of our interview with Dawn Mabalon, she explains how her personal and familial interests influenced her research on the life and work of United Farm Workers labor organizer Larry Itliong, as well as her forthcoming children’s book, Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong. Dr. Mabalon is an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and a co-founder of the the Little Manila Foundation, which “advocates for the historic preservation of the Little Manila Historic Site in Stockton, California and provides education and leadership to revitalize our Filipina/o American community.”

Her research draws heavily on the personal papers of Larry Itliong, as well as records from other farm labor leaders found in the United Farm Workers collections at the Reuther Library. Mabalon’s research visit was supported through a Sam Fishman Travel Grant, which provides up to $1,000 for scholars to support travel to Detroit to access archival records of the American labor movement in the Reuther Library. The award is named in honor of Sam Fishman, a former UAW and Michigan AFL-CIO leader.

Related Archival Collections

Larry Itliong Papers

Philip Vera Cruz Papers

Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee Records

UFW Office of the President: Cesar Chavez Records

Episode Credits

Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English

Host: Dan Golodner

Interviewee: Dawn Mabalon

Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace.


Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 1



In this inaugural episode of Tales from the Reuther Library, Dawn Mabalon, an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University, shares her research on the life and work of Larry Itliong, a Filipino leader of California’s farm labor movement. She explains to Reuther archivist Dan Golodner the relationship between Filipino and Mexican farm workers, reframing this struggle in multi-ethnic and multi-generational contexts to be more inclusive of radical Filipino American perspectives. Continue reading Dawn Mabalon on UFW labor organizer Larry Itliong – Part 1