Subject focus: Jewish Detroit Experience

The Reuther Library celebrates the Jewish holiday of Passover with a look at some of the significant collections housed in the library that deal with the Jewish experience in Metropolitan Detroit.

As the repository for the Jewish Community Archives (JCA), the Reuther Library has a wealth of information on the Jewish community in Detroit and surrounding environs. The JCA holdings include, but are not limited to, the papers of:

Jewish life in southeastern Michigan is chronicled from the 1860s through the 1990s and follows the migration of the Jewish community through different Detroit neighborhoods and several Detroit suburbs.

Beyond the JCA, the Reuther Library holds the records of many organizations that the Jewish community has had an impact on over the years. The papers of Stanley J. Winkelman reflect the long history of Jewish philanthropy in Detroit, and the New Detroit Collection shows the influence of the community in trying to solve long term economic and race problems in Detroit and beyond. On the issue of race, the Detroit Commission on Community Relations collection documents segregation and racial integration from the 1940s through the 1970s.

The Wayne State University collections highlight the long relationship between the Detroit Jewish Community and the largest higher educational institution in the City of Detroit. This close relationship is evident in the buildings on Wayne’s campus that bear the names of benefactors from the Detroit Jewish Community, including the Leonard Simons Building, Shapiro Hall and the Prentis Building, to name just a few. Click here for interactive campus map.

The Jewish Community in Southeastern Michigan also has deep ties to civil rights, the law, and organized labor. The papers of the ACLU of Michigan, Ernest Goodman, and Morris Gleicher, and the records of Walter P. Reuther, and the UAW, attest to the Jewish community’s commitment to the rights of the common man.

The collections at the Reuther Library are so very rich in documenting the Jewish experience in Detroit, in Michigan and around the United States. The few collections highlighted here are simply a small taste of what a visitor will find while using the Reuther Library. Visit us soon and learn more!

William LeFevre, CA, CRM, is the Reference Archivist for the Walter P. Reuther Library.