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Lewis B. Larkin Papers

Identifier: WSP000122

Scope and Content

The papers of Lewis B. Larkin reflect his pioneering efforts with juvenile delinquents during the late 1930s and 1940s and his activities with and encouragement of neighborhood organizations in the Western, Davison and Northern areas. To some extent, they give an overview of both Detroit and national youth problems and the attempt to cope with these problems. To a lesser degree, they show Larkin's involvement with professional organizations. Larkin recorded his visits and activities with neighborhood groups and individuals in a narrative or log format. Because of these narratives, the Larkin Collection often reflects attitudes on race, religion, ethnic groups, the "generation gap," juvenile delinquency and the community or neighborhood in general.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: (In general, all of the subjects listed below fall within the late 1930s and/or 1940s time period) Area work Brightmoor Community Center Churches Community councils Community organization Community service organizations and agencies Council of Social Agencies Davison Area Project and Northern Area Detroit race riot, 1943 District Councils Industrial Preparatory Juvenile delinquency Mayor's Advisory Committee on Youth Problems Race relations Social recreation work principles and procedures Western Area Project Women's clubs World War II servicemen's correspondence YMCA Youth clubs (canteens)

Series Description:

Series I: Youth Problems and Community Work, 1922 1970: Subseries I: Professional and Miscellaneous, 1922 1970: Records and publications relating to professional organizations, community and youth work throughout the country, juvenile delinquency, community and district councils and the YMCA as well as Larkin's talks and personal material. The files mainly cover 1940 to 1945.

Subseries II: Western Area Project, 1937 1942: Larkin's notebooks containing correspondence, minutes, reports and flyers documenting the daily activities of the Western Area Project. Also included are subject files relating to the project and Larkin's thesis on the project.

Subseries III: Area Work, 1938 1951: Files relating to area work in metropolitan Detroit, in general, and the Davison Area Project and Northern Area, in particular. They include community agencies and groups concerned with youth; the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Youth Problems; canteens or youth clubs; employment programs; church involvement; ethnic, race and population data; a correspondence file on area work activities and Larkin's correspondence with "his boys" in service during World War II.


  • 1922 - 1970


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. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Larkin was born in Schenectady, New York in 1901, retired from Wayne State University in 1970 and died in 1976. He received his B.S. degree from Springfield College, Massachusetts. his Master's in social work from the University of Michigan and his Ed. D from Wayne State University. Larkin first joined Wayne as a lecturer in educational psychology in 1939. He served as a part time instructor from 1947 1951. He was made an assistant professor in 1951, when he began teaching full time, and an associate professor in 1964. At one point he was in charge of all veteran and military counseling for the College of Education. When he retired, Larkin was coordinator for the Inner Departmental Undergraduate Instructional Program in the College of Education. He was awarded the rank of Associate Professor Emeritus in August of 1970.

During his career, Larkin was treasurer of the American Association of Social Workers, vice chairman of the American Association of Group Workers, held various offices with the Boys Work Council of Metropolitan Detroit and was president of Alpha Omega, Phi Delta Kappa. In 1959 Wayne's chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for men, gave Larkin the distinguished faculty advisor's award.

Before joining Wayne full time in 1951, Lewis Larkin had worked with Detroit youth and community groups for over twenty years. He was the secretary of the downtown branch of the YMCA (1929 1938), a youth counselor for the Detroit Council for Youth Services (1939 1940), the director of youth activities for the Brightmoor Community Center (1941 1943) and the Executive Secretary for the Dearborn War Chest Campaign (1942, 1943). Larkin worked with the Council of Social Agencies from 1940 to 1951 and gained recognition for his activities with juvenile delinquents. On loan from the Council, he served as director of the experimental Western Area Project (1940 1942) and as community coordinator for the Davison Area Project and the Northern Area (1943 1951). Larkin pionneered the formation of the Commission on Children and Youth, the Detroit Police Department Youth Bureau and the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Council.


8.5 Linear Feet (17 MB)


Best known as a pioneer in the fight against juvenile delinquency in the 1940s, Larkin later became an associate professor of education at Wayne University. Born in Schenectady New York in 1901, he earned his B.S. degree from Springfield College Massachusetts, his masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan and his Ed.D. from Wayne. Larkin first taught educational psychology at Wayne in 1939. He worked with Detroit youth and community groups for over 20 years. His work with the Council of Social Agencies from 1940 to 1951 gained him recognition for his work with juvenile delinquents. In addition to his work as director of the Western Area Project from 1940 to 1942, Larkin served as community coordinator for the Davison Area Project and the Northern Area from 1943-1951. It was Lewis Larkin who caused the formation of the Commission on Children and Youth, the Detroit Police Department Youth Bureau and the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Council.


Arranged in 1 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-17) and is further broken down into 3 subseries.

Mrs. Alice Larkin undertook the laborious task of listing and/or describing most items in her husband's files before the material was transferred to the University Archives. The inventory is found at the end of the guide. Mrs. Larkin's folder numbers are in parentheses after folder titles in the guide. For example, the number (65) following the folder entitled "Duck Inn Canteen, 1946 1948," refers to folder 65 of Mrs. Larkin's inventory, in which a list and/or description of this material is found.


The papers of Lewis Barber Larkin, a pioneer in fighting juvenile delinquency in the 1940s and later an associate professor of education, were placed in the University Archives by Mrs. Alice Larkin in 1976 and 1977.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Lewis B. Larkin Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
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