aergas's blog

Hidden Gems: Holidays in the Folklore Archive

Winter is the time for the celebration of holidays and festivals in many ethnic and religious groups around the world, from the Winter Solstice to Kwanzaa. Though the Reuther Library lacks any Druid collections that shed light on prehistoric winter rites, it is the home of a relevant “hidden gem” collection: the Folklore Archive. The holiday information in this collection is wide-ranging, enlightening and sometimes amusing.

The Folklore Archive, established in 1939, contains the oldest and largest record of urban folk traditions in the United States. At its core are thousands of student field research projects from Wayne University (later Wayne State) classes.  read more »

The Jewish Community Archives at the Reuther Library: Additions and Revisions

(33760) DeRoy Memorial, Groundbreaking, Jewish Community Center, Detroit, 1939

The Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives document the rich and varied history of the Detroit Jewish community. In 1991, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit placed the bulk of its archival holdings in the Reuther Library. The collection dates back to the beginning of the United Jewish Charities in 1899. Through the years, the Jewish Community Archives (JCA) at the Reuther Library has expanded to include more than two million documents chronicling the growth and development of the Federation and its member agencies and Jewish communal agencies.

Recently, some new collections have been added and some revisions have been made to finding aids.  read more »

Myra Wolfgang: New inductee to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

(33749) Portrait of Myra Wolfgang

The Reuther Library salutes Myra Wolfgang as she is inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame this month.

Almost 40 years after her death, Myra Wolfgang stands among the giants in Detroit’s labor movement. Her involvement in labor organizing began not long after graduating from Northern High School in Detroit in 1931. By the age of 23, she was leading strikes and directed organizing drives in local businesses, through the local chapter of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union (today known as UNITE HERE!). She first received national publicity for organizing a “pink-collar” sit-down strike among women workers at the Woolworth’s department store in Detroit in 1937.  read more »

Hidden Gem: A.G. and Marie Mezerik Papers

(33693) Street Scenes, Gratiot and Broadway, Downtown, Detroit, 1900s

It’s hard to explain to people just how extensive (over 2,500 collections) and varied the archival holdings of the Reuther Library are. When someone asks, we first respond with the “Big Ones, ” such as the UAW, the American Federation of Teachers, the Wayne State University Archives. There are important medium-sized collections too, among them Focus Hope, the United Farm Workers and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). Then there are the very small collections that are sometimes overlooked, hidden like small pebbles in a jar filled with big stones. These often contain fascinating materials that complement the Reuther’s more prominent collections.

One of these is the A.G. and Marie Mezerik Papers.  read more »

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