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William Henkelman Papers

Identifier: LP000610

Scope and Content

Important subjects covered in the collection are: American Expedition to Russia, 1918-1919 IWW: artwork in publications factionalism organizing concerns philosophy Veterans' second bonus army, 1933

Among the important correspondents are: Billings, Warren K. Erwin, Claude Thompson, Fred Westman, Walter H.

Series Description: Series I, Personal Files, 1943-1980: Correspondence, biographical statements, publications and copies of original sketches relating to William Henkelman and his activities as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. Also included is material on the American Expedition to North Russia, 1918-1919 (Henkelman was part of the 339th Infantry) and the Bonus Army (As a veteran of World War I, Henkelman participated in the march on Washington.)


  • 1943 - 1982
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1976


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. 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.


William Henkelman was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, September 24, 1894. He was inducted into the army in 1917 and during his service participated in the American expedition to Russia as a member of the Michigan "Polar Bear" unit, 1918-1919.

After the war he was unable to return to his previous employment as an automobile painter due to disabilities incurred during his service. He turned instead to itinerant work mainly doing painting jobs and sign painting. He joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1919 and was active in the organization and participated in several IWW strikes, mainly on the West Coast. He contributed art work to a number of IWW publications and decorated IWW meeting halls. He continued his active membership until 1952 when he withdrew as the result of a factional dispute.

During the 1930's he helped organize a veterans' bonus march to Washington. Most of his life has been spent in the San Francisco-Oakland area although he has also lived in other parts of the country. In 1946 he moved to the Veterans' Home in Yountville, California because of his disabilities and continues to reside there.


1 Linear Feet (2 MB)


William Henkelman served in WWI as a member of the American expedition to Russia, Michigan 'Polar Bear' unit. He became active in the Industrial Workers of the World after the war. His papers reflect his service in Russia and involvement in the IWW.


Arranged in 1 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2). The files are arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material, with pamphlet material and other bound publications placed at the end of the series.


The papers of William Henkelman were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1973, and installments were later added in 1974, 1976, and 1980.


A few photographs of Henkelman and approximately 75 original sketches created by Henkelman for IWW publications have been placed in the Archives' Audiovisual Collections. A few IWW publications (songbooks, copies of Industrial Worker etc.) have been placed in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in January 1982.
Guide to the William Henkelman 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