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Heber Blankenhorn Papers

Identifier: LP000294

Scope and Content

The important subjects are: Early NLRB activities LaFollette Committee investigations Steel and automobile unionization Detective agencies and industry Social and economic conditions of coal-miners during 1920's InterChurch World Movement and the Steel Strike of 1919. Investigations be UAW into Reuther shootings, 1949 Spanish Revolution

Among the correspondents are: J. Warren Madden Robert LaFollette Jr. John L Lewis Walter Reuther Estes Kefauver Peter Blume

Series 1: NLRB, 1934-1947 Memoranda and correspondence are arranged alphabetically with miscellaneous material following in chronological order. Sub-Series A. Reports, hearings and investigations-LaFollette Committtee, 1936-1939. Arranged chronologically. Sub-Series B. John L. Lewis, 1935-1962. Miscellaneous material arranged chronologically. Sub-Series C. Ford Cases, 1940-1946. Miscellaneous material arranged chronologically. Sub-Series D. Smith Committee, 1940-1941. Miscellaneous material arranged chronologically. Sub-Series E. Miscellaneous Material, 1934-1939. Arranged chronologically.

Series 2: Psychological Warfare Activities, 1942-1948. Confidential files and miscellaneous material arranged chronologically.

Series 3: UAW-CIO, 1949-1951. Correspondence arranged alphbetically. Sub-Series A. Reports and miscellaneous investigation material, 1949-1954. Arranged chronologically.

Series 4: Articles unpublished essays and reports, 1914-1958. Arranged chronologically.

Series 5: Personal Correspondence and miscellaneous biographical data, 1906-1956. Correspondents listed alphabetically. Sub-Series A. Biographical Data, 1910-1956. Arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Memoirs: Correspondence, chapter material and manuscript drafts, 1956-1967. Related correspondence listed by subject followed by chapter material and manuscript drafts.


  • 1906 - 1967


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


Heber Holbrook Blankenhorn was born in Orrville, Ohio on March 26, 1884. He received an A.B. from the College of Wooster in 1905 and, after a year's tour of Western Europe, returned to receive an A.M. in history from Columbia University in 1910. Having rejected a faculty position at a small Midwestern college, he accepted a position as a reporter in 1910 on the staff of the New York Evening Sun where he became assistant city editor by 1914. Mr. Blankenhorn became familiar and interested in the problems and conditions of laborers and their efforts to organize effective unions. During his career with the Evening Sun, he continously gathered research data by covering the major strikes of the period and meeting both liberal and radical supporters from social and political movements. Upon completion of military service in World War I as a strategist of wartime propaganda in France, Heber Blankenhorn returned to his earlier interests and became co-director of the Bureau of Industrial Research in 1919. This portion of his career marks a period of firsthand knowledge into the origin of the InterChurch World Movement and its role in the Steel Strike of 1919. Also, as temporary publicity director for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Union in 1921, he aided in the establishment of the first labor daily, The New York Leader. Between 1921 and 1924, activities also included the publication of two books which dealt with labor unions in the steel industry and writing various labor journals. Mr. Blankenhorn expanded his interests in unionism by joining the international staff of Labor as a foreign correspondent in 1924. With a background in both labor journalism and publicity management, he was called to join a public relations staff under the National Recovery Act and later worked as an assistant to Senator Robert F. Wagner on the passage of the National Labor Relations Act. Continuing as an industrial economist to both chairmen of the first and second National Labor Boards, the LaFollette Committee hearings and investigations cases launched against the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Again, from 1942 to 1946, he served in the United States Army on an innovative team who furthered the effectiveness of psychological warfare. Mr. Blankenhorn was awarded the Legion of Merit and retired with the rank of Colonel. Upon terminating his military leave of absence, he returned to the NLRB but resigned the following year. During 1949, expertise as a fact-finder led him to direct the UAW investigation into the attempts made on the lives of Victor and Walter Reuther. Upon completion of this assignment, Europe became his reporting base once more as he returned to the staff of Labor. Mr. Blankenhorn retired to his home at Alexandria, Virginia in effort to publish his memoirs. He died on January 1, 1956 and was unable to complete the task.


7.5 Linear Feet (13 MB, 2 OS, 1 scrapbook)


Mr. Blankenhorn was assistant city editor of the New York Evening Sun; co-director of the Bureau of Industrial Research; publicity director for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; foreign correspondent for Labor; aide to Senator Robert Wagner in the passage of the NLRA and a staff member for the first two National Labor boards and the LaFollette Committee; director of the UAW investigation into the shootings of Victor and Walter Reuther; and finally returned as a correspondent for Labor. Correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports, and other material gathered by Mr. Blankenhorn cover early NLRB activities; the LaFollette Committee; steel and auto unionization; the use of private detectives by the auto industry in the 1930s; the Inter-Church World Movement and the Steel Strike of 1919; the Reuther shootings; and the Spanish Civil War. Correspondents include Robert LaFollette, Jr., John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Estes Kefauver, and Peter Blume.


Arranged in 6 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Box 3), Series 3 (Box 3), Series 4 (Boxes 4-5), Series 5 (Boxes 5-6), and Series 6 (Boxes 6-13). Folders are arranged alphabetically or chronologically.

Series 1 is subdivided into 5 subseries, and Series 3 and 5 each are subdivided into 1 subseries.


The papers of Heber Blankenhorn were deposited at the Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs on August 29, 1969 by Mrs. Ann Blankenhorn.


All photographs have been removed from the Collection and are available in the Audiovisual Collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by VB in April, 1971.
Guide to the Heber Blankenhorn Papers
Processed by VB.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA