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Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs

The Walter P. Reuther Library collects and facilitates access to historical documentary evidence in order to inspire academic research, serve the information needs of the community, and build knowledge at Wayne State University.


The Walter P. Reuther Library, located on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, contains millions of primary source documents related to the history of the labor movement, urban affairs, and the Wayne State University Archives. The building is named for UAW President and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) President Walter Reuther.

What are Archives?

An archives collects firsthand facts and evidence documenting the past. The materials in the archives are the direct product of people and/or institutions and their work. These are known as primary sources, meaning that they exist without someone else’s historical interpretation. The items may take the form of correspondence, memoranda, notes, meeting minutes, flyers, photographs, audio and visual recordings, and other formats. These primary source materials are arranged and described by the archives to facilitate use by researchers.

How to Find Archival Materials at the Reuther Library

Archival materials are unique documents. For this reason, they do not circulate and cannot be delivered to any other library through Interlibrary Loan. The Reuther Library welcomes researchers in our Reading Room, located on the 3rd floor of our building at 5401 Cass Ave. Please prepare for your visit by making a research appointment with our Reference Archivist, Kristen Chinery.

The easiest way to find archival materials is to search our website at Select advanced search.

  • Choose a set of categories to refine results. If you want to find materials related to women’s involvement in the UAW, hold down the command key and select both  “UAW” and “Women in the Labor Movement.”
  • Select a material type, such as image, audio, or publications. Finding aids, which contain the description and inventory for materials, are designated as abstracts.
  • When you find an abstract that aligns with your research needs, open the .pdf finding aid to browse the box inventory.
  • Each collection at the Reuther has a finding aid that helps researchers navigate the collection.
  • The paragraphs at the top of the finding aid explain where the materials come from and place them in historical context.
  • The inventory explains the content of the boxes. In most cases, each folder of material is listed. If a folder is marked “Correspondence, 1968 April” a researcher will need to look in that folder to discover the subjects and authors of the letters inside.

Identifying Primary Sources and Using the Archives

Reading Room Hours

Monday-Friday: 10:00am-4:00pm
Saturday-Sunday: Closed
Appointments: Reference Archivist