Subject Focus: History of Labor Day in Detroit

Few cities are more closely tied to the labor movement than Detroit. From the outset, Labor Day in Detroit was about worker demonstration, which typically took the form of a parade. The city's first Labor Day celebration was held on August 16, 1884 in Recreation Park and attracted 50,000 spectators. The earliest Labor Day image in the Reuther's collections shows Randolph Street in downtown Detroit circa 1890s (pictured below).  read more »

75 Years of Solidarity: A History of the UAW

75 years of the UAW Seventy-five years ago, during the difficult years of the Great Depression, autoworkers faced tough times. The factories were filled with workers toiling in dangerous and dirty conditions. Tedious and repetitive tasks were performed on assembly lines that moved faster and faster. The labor was physically exhausting, safety was overlooked, job security nonexistent, and hundreds of thousands of employees at automobile and parts factories lost their jobs. In the face of these obstacles, concerned autoworkers gathered together in Detroit and founded the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW) in 1935.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UAW, the Walter P. Reuther Library is currently featuring an exhibit entitled “75 Years of Solidarity: A History of the UAW,” which is open now through October 1, 2010. The exhibit uses a time-line to tell the story of the UAW, decade by decade, from its beginnings in 1935 to the present. Photographs, documents, and artifacts, including musical instruments and a Flying Squadron uniform, from the UAW archives are on display.

For your convenience, please use this quick link to access online UAW content, which includes over 400 collection abstracts (complete with guide), 300 images, 200 publications.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours of operation are 11 am - 6:45 pm Monday & Tuesday and 9 am - 4:45 pm Wednesday-Friday. Please contact us for information about this exhibit at 313.577.4024

Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs

Reuther's 2009 Newsletter

Newsletter Fall 2009 now available

The 2009 newsletter reports on the Reuther's activities over the past year. Learn about our exhibits, our newly opened collections, some of our important accessions, development of our digital and web programs, and our field work.

The Reuther is also launching a listserv to keep our friends more up to date with Library happenings. If you'd like to subscribe, please send an email to with the subject line "Listserv Subscribe." In the body, please put your name and mailing address.

Download the full newsletter (fall09.pdf - 1.1MB)

National Association of Letter Carriers Exhibit

An exhibit celebrating the 120 year history of the National Association of Letter Carriers, “Still Delivering: A History of the Letter Carriers,” is now open to the public at the Walter P. Reuther Library.

Sponsored by Wayne State University’s Walter P. Reuther Library, the exhibit tells the story of the men and women who have devoted their lives to make sure the mail is delivered to homes and businesses six days a week, using documents, photographs and other objects from the library’s National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Historical Collection.

The exhibit focuses on the significance of the historical development of the NALC, the evolution of mail delivery, and the courageous men and women who not only keep the nation informed, but also contribute to the social well being of America in so many ways.

“Still Delivering: A History of the Letter Carriers” will be available for viewing in the Walter P. Reuther Library atrium on the campus of Wayne State University Sept. 22 through June 2010. Viewing hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The exhibit is free.

For more information about the exhibit, contact the Walter P. Reuther Library Monday through Friday (313) 577-4024

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 32,000 students in metropolitan Detroit.

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