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Brookwood Labor College: Mark and Helen Norton Starr Papers

Identifier: LR000567

Scope and Content

The Mark and Helen Norton Starr Collection contains newspaper clippings, manuscript drafts, correspondence and pamphlets relating to Mark Starr’s research, writing, and travels. Box 26 contains oversized items including publications and ILGWU reports.

Important subjects in the collection: Communism. International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Educational Department. Labor Songs Labor and Labor Unions—Great Britain. Labor and Labor Unions—Japan. Labor and Labor Unions—Tanganyika. Labor Unions - Political Action. Labor Unions - Public Relations. Workers’ Education and Schools.


  • 1917 - 1972
  • Majority of material found within 1934 - 1962


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.


Mark Starr was born in Somerset, England, in 1894. At age 13, he began working as a builder’s mortar boy and less than a year later got a job as a coal miner, which he kept for seven years. After graduating from London Labour College in 1920, he taught university courses in history and economics. Starr came to the United States in 1928 and went to work for Brookwood Labor College as extension director. In 1932, he married Helen Grosvenor Norton, a fellow lecturer at Brookwood College, and he became an American citizen in 1937. In 1935, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union hired him as director of its Educational Department, where he remained until 1960, publishing pamphlets and articles on workers’ education and labor history. Between 1940 and 1942 he was vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers. Starr ran for a seat on New York’s City Council in 1945 as a Liberal Party candidate, but lost, and also that year was a member of the US delegation to the first UNESCO Conference in London. In the early 1960s, Starr travelled for the International Labour Office to Singapore, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and Uganda gathering information about labor in those countries and training labor leaders how to organize effectively. In the mid-1970s, Starr taught labor studies at Rutgers University. Among the books he authored are two high school textbooks: "Labor and the American Way" and "Labor in America." He died on April 24, 1985.


26 Linear Feet (25 SB, 1 OS)


With a background in teaching history and economics in England, Mark Starr moved to the U.S. and went to work for Brookwood Labor College as extension director in 1928. He became director of the Ladies Garment Workers Union Educational Department in 1934, where he served for almost 30 years, publishing pamphlets and articles on workers' education and labor history. In the 1960s, he traveled for the International Labour Office gathering information and training labor leaders in foreign countries. The Mark and Helen Starr papers relate to Mark Starr's research, writing and travels.


Folders are listed in the order they appear.

Related Materials

Mark and Helen Norton Starr Oral History, conducted by Dennis East in 1974.


A large number of books and newspapers were transferred to the Reuther Archives Library and a few photographs were placed in the Reuther Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Brookwood Labor College: Mark and Helen Norton Starr 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