What records does the Reuther Library collect from individuals?


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

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

Among the types of materials in personal and family papers of interest to researchers are:

  • brochures and flyers
  • business records
  • letters
  • diaries
  • films/videos/audio tapes (labeled) created by the individual or family
  • genealogical information
  • legal documents
  • memoirs/reminiscences
  • minutes/reports
  • photographs, preferably with identifying information like names of people, date,
    location, and event
  • professional/academic papers
  • scrapbooks/photo albums/yearbooks
  • speeches/lectures

Also of interest are files relating to the individual's civic, business, religious, political, and social activities.

Churches, political organizations, businesses, economic interest groups, community groups, voluntary associations, professional associations, and other collective enterprises all produce records that document their purpose, policies, and activities. An individual or family may hold the records of such a business or organization, and this material may also be significant.

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.

  • films/videos/audio tapes without identifying labels or dates
  • financial records
  • medical records
  • mundane documents such as shopping lists
  • photographs with no identifying information
  • personnel or human resources files
  • receipts
  • routine correspondence such as thank you notes or transactional letters