What records does the Reuther Library collect from the labor movement?


The most common question donors have is, “What types of records do you want?” Listed below are general types of records we collect from the labor movement. This list offers guidelines but is not definitive. Because records vary from one organization to another, you should still speak directly with an archivist to share more details about the records you would like to donate.

The Walter P. Reuther Library seeks originals of most record types. If your organization wishes to keep the originals of some documents, such as constitutions and bylaws, copies can be substituted. If you have record types not on the list, please feel free to ask about them.

WANTED: Researchers often find the following types of materials most helpful.

  • articles written by or about the union, organization, or its members
  • audits and year end financial summaries
  • charters
  • committee files
  • constitution/bylaws
  • contracts and negotiation files
  • correspondence/memoranda
  • director’s and officers’ files
  • event, program, and union action files
  • field staff and organizing files
  • films/videos/audio tapes (labeled and identified) produced by the union,
    organization, or its members
  • meeting minutes and agendas
  • membership records
  • photographs, preferably with identifying information like names of people, date,
    location, and event
  • press releases
  • project files
  • publications by the union
  • reports/white papers
  • transcripts, testimonials, speeches, and speech notes

*Legal files, grievance files, and collections of books, videos, or artwork not produced by the union, organization, or its members must be discussed with an archivist before shipment.

NOT WANTED: The following materials have minimal historical value or cannot be opened for research due to privacy concerns. If you have record types listed below that you believe have value, please discuss them with an archivist.

  • applications for jobs, scholarships
  • audio recordings that are inaudible and/or unlabeled
  • bank statements
  • blank stationery
  • cancelled checks and/or check stubs
  • cash journals
  • conference planning files and registration forms
  • routine correspondence (thank you notes, dues statements, hotel reservations, etc.)
  • duplicates
  • files of newspaper clippings and magazine articles not specifically about the union, organization, or its members
  • invoices
  • personnel or human resources files
  • petty cash slips
  • photographs with no identifying information
  • plaques, trophies
  • videotape recordings that are inaudible or un-viewable and/or are unlabeled