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Detroit Commission on Community Relations (DCCR) / Human Rights Department Records

Identifier: UR000267

Scope and Content

The Detroit Commission on Community Relations/Human Rights Department Collection consists of correspondence, reports, minutes, membership information, newspaper clippings, speeches, press releases, publications and case files documenting its efforts to overcome racial discrimination and improve race relations in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Important subjects in the collection: Affirmative action African Americans in Detroit Bilingual/bicultural education Consumer protection Detroit community organizations Detroit Open-Occupancy Ordinance Detroit riot of 1943 Detroit riot of 1967 Detroit social statistics Discrimination in employment Discrimination in housing School decentralization School desegregation Discrimination in Employment Discrimination in Housing Mexican Americans in Detroit Neighborhood improvement associations Police-community relations Police harassment Poverty and welfare in Detroit Race relations education Racial tension in Detroit schools Racism and racist groups Southern migration into Detroit Urban renewal

Important correspondents in the collection: Agnes J. Bryant Jerome P. Cavanagh Ray Girardin Roman Gribbs Denise L. Lewis Fred Linsell Richard V. Marks Curtis Rodgers Lonnie Saunders George Schermer Beulah Whitby Coleman A. Young
Part 1: 62 MB, 1 scrapbook, 2 OS folders Series 1, City of Detroit Interracial Committee, 1942-1963, Boxes 1-19, scrapbook, 2 oversize folders: Correspondence, reports and minutes of the Community Barometer, a method devised by the Detroit Interracial Committee to measure racial tensions; case reports of the Detroit Interracial Committee; minutes of Interracial Committee meetings; newspaper clippings on the 1943 race riot and racial problems and progress in Detroit and the South; and other material documenting the work of the Committee.

Series 2, Coordinating Council on Human Relations, 1947- 1969, Boxes 1-16: General files kept by CCR staff of the Coordinating Council. Structure, by-laws, general correspondence and records of the standing committees, in addition to the files of Secretary-Director Richard Marks. Executive Board minutes, correspondence, memoranda, position statements, program activities and annual reports and other publications.

Series 3, General Office Files, 1952-1968, Boxes 1-3

Series 4, Minutes, 1953-1968, Boxes 1-4

Series 5, Clippings, 1950-1968, Boxes 1-4

Serie 6, Case Reports, 1954-1965, Boxes 1-16
Part 2: 4 MB Primarily correspondence and memoranda from the offices of the director and staff of the Interracial Committee. Also included are notes on meetings, agendas, membership lists, reports and program and budget information.
Part 3: 99 SB, 1 OS folder

Contains material from the Detroit Interracial Committee (IRC), Commission on Community Relations (CCR), and Human Rights Department (HRD). This includes materials created and collected by these organizations on topics of racial tension and the impact of race and racism on equality of housing, education, employment, police-community relations, welfare, and healthcare. Much of this information is related to Detroit or Michigan, though some material was gathered on similar organizations around the country.

Series 8, Office files, 1943-1983, Boxes 67-82 Subseries A, Detroit Interracial Committee, 1943-1954 Subseries B, Commission on Community Relations, 1944-1975 Subseries C, Human Rights Department, 1973-1983

Series 9, Subject Files, 1940-1984, 74-82

Series 10, Organizations, 1944-1981, Boxes 82-91

Series 11, Housing, 1940-1983, Boxes 91-111

Series 12, Education, 1945-1983, Boxes 111-132

Series 13, Police-Community Relations, 1945-1983, Boxes 132-140

Series 14, Employment, 1945-1989, Boxes 141-146

Series 15, Welfare, 1964-1983, Boxes 146-150

Series 16, Hospitals and Health Care, 1952-1978, Boxes 150-153

Series 17, Coordinating Council on Human Relations, 1947-1982, Boxes 153-165


  • 1940 - 1984


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.


The City of Detroit Commission on Community Relations evolved from the City of Detroit Mayor's Interracial Committee. The Interracial Committee was instituted by Mayor Edward Jeffries late in 1943 as a response to the Detroit race riot of June, 1943. The Committee was composed of the heads of six city departments and five lay members. The direct successor to the Committee was the Commission on Community Relations, which was established by Detroit Common Council ordinance in 1953. The Commission was composed of seven department heads and eight lay members until 1961, when Common Council modified the Commission so that it became composed entirely of private citizens.

The Commission on Community Relations, like the earlier Interracial Committee, was charged with the responsibility to make recommendations designed to improve governmental services which affect racial relationships; to investigate and seek to correct situations of discrimination and racial tension; and to cooperate in informational programs designed to increase mutual understanding within the community.

The Coordinating Council on Human Relations was established in 1947 to increase cooperation among civic groups. Its functions are to develop programs of education and research and to help coordinate the human relations activities of member agencies. The Coordinating Council is composed of community agencies which have been invited to become members by the Commission on Community Relations upon recommendation of the Coordinating Council. The Council operates through an executive board of twenty members elected by the official delegates of member agencies. Standing committees deal with programs, membership, community forums, public relations and research. Executive services are provided to the Coordinating Council by the staff of the Commission on Community Relations.

With the enactment of a new city charter in 1974, the Commission changed its name to the Human Rights Department, but continued to serve as the city's civil rights agency, investigating complaints of discrimination and initiating programs to relieve racial tensions.


158 Linear Feet (123 SB, 66 MB, 3 OS folders, 1 Scrapbook)


The Commission on Community Relations evolved from the City of Detroit Mayor's Interracial Committee in 1953 and was renamed in 1974 as the Human Rights Department. All three iterations served a common purpose: to make recommendations to improve governmental services affecting racial relations, and to promote understanding between the races. Minutes, correspondence, and case studies document the Commission's efforts to achieve these goals.

Topics covered include affirmative action, the Coordinating Council on Human Relations, discrimination in housing, health care, the 1943 and 1967 race riots, southern migration into Detroit, police-community relations, welfare, and school redistricting.

This Finding Aid was revised in July 2019, citations attributed before this date may no longer match current folder locations/numbers. If you need help locating a folder from an old citation, please ask an archivist for assistance.


Part 1: Arranged in 6 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-19, scrapbook, 2 OS folders,), Series 2 (Boxes 20-35), Series 3 (Boxes 36-38), Series 4 (Boxes 39-42), Series 5 (Boxes 43-46), and Series 6 (Boxes 47-62).

Folders are arranged alphabetically, chronologically, and by subject, or a combination thereof depending on the series.
Part 2: Arranged in 1 series - Series 7 (Box 63-66). Folders are arranged chronologically.
Part 3: Note: Arranged in 10 series - Series 8-17. Series 8: Office files 1943-1983, has 3 subseries - A: City of Detroit INterraical Committee, 1943-1954 (Box 67), B: Commission on COmmunity Relations, 1944-1975 (Boxes 67-73), C: Human Rights Department, 1973-1983 (Boxes 73-74). Series 9 (Boxes 74-82), Series 10 (Boxes 82-91), Series 11 (Boxes 91-111), Series 12 (Boxes 111-132), Series 13 (Boxes 132-140), Series 14 (Boxes 141-146), Series 15 (Boxes 146-150), Series 16 (Boxes 150-153), and Series 17 (Boxes 153-165).


The records of the Detroit Commission on Community Relations were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs between 1967 and 1970 by Richard Marks. Additional records were placed in the Archives in 1973, 1980 and 1986.

Related Materials

Detroit Commission on Community Relations/Human Rights Department Photographs and Other Materials (UAV000267); George Schermer Papers (UP0001228)


A few photographs and posters received with the collection have been transferred to the Archives Audiovisual Collection, and a number of books on race relations and racial discrimination have been placed in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in 1971. Additional records were opened for research in 1974 and 1995.
Guide to the Detroit Commission on Community Relations / Human Rights Department Records
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