Maryann Mahaffey Papers

Accession Number: 
76 linear feet (62 SB, 1 MB, 5 OS)

Maryann Mahaffey was born on January 18, 1925 in Burlington, Iowa to Kent and Margaret ‘Nell’ [Widener] Mahaffey. Mahaffey’s older brother was also named Kent. While she was attending Cornell College, she decided to spend the summer of 1945 working as a Recreation Director at Poston Internment Camp in Arizona. This work had a profound effect on Mahaffey in regard to fighting against discrimination and helping people in need.
After obtaining masters degrees in social work from the University of Southern California, Mahaffey and her husband moved briefly in Indianapolis before moving to Detroit. Mahaffey worked with organizations like Young Woman's Christian Association (YWCA), Girl Scouts of America, Merrill Palmer Institute, and Brightmoor Community Center before becoming involved in local politics.
After working as a consultant to the Mayor of Detroit on parks, recreation, and social services, Mahaffey initiated and chaired the Mayor's Task Force on Malnutrition and Hunger before running for Wayne County Commissioner in 1970. Though she did not win the election for this position, she did win a Michigan Supreme Court case setting a legal precedent for married women running for public office with their maiden name. In 1973, Mahaffey ran for Detroit City Council and won, she served on the city council until 2005.
Active outside of her council work, Mahaffey also taught as a Professor at Wayne State University School of Social Work as well as participating in many social work and positive social force organizations. She played important roles in the Michigan Social Work Council, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) including being their first elected female President, and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). Mahaffey also focused heavily on organization promoting peace, women in politics, health, and equality.
Mahaffey was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2005 and passed away on July 27, 2006 due to health complications.

This collection contains materials with a heavy emphasis on the city of Detroit, as well as social work and social service organizations.
From Mahaffey's numerous decades on the Detroit City Council, there are detailed notes, correspondence, and reports relating to the daily work was involved in including city budget, casinos, an anti-surveillance ordinance, housing, and many other subjects of focus. This collection also contains materials related to her teaching at Wayne State University including detailed information on social service organizations in Metro Detroit. Other important elements of this collection relate to her experience working at Poston, the many organizations Mahaffey played an active role in running and organizing, and the speeches, testimony, and writing she did covering the broad range of her experience and interests.

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