Leonard Woodcock Papers
Scope and Content
The donor has included annotations to the materials for greater context and information. Accompanying notes found in the collection, including typed-out versions of handwritten materials and transcripts of audiocassettes, can be attributed to her.
Complementing the manuscript materials on Woodcock's diplomatic career in China are 37 oral history interviews on this topic conducted between him and fellow Sinologist Michel Oksenberg.
United States. Embassy (China); United States--Relations--China Normalization; Beijing (China); Yangtze River (China); Hong Kong (China); Shanghai (China); China; United States; Vietnam; Brunei; Japan; University of Michigan. Center for Political Studies; Wayne State University; Ambassadors--United States--Biography; Most Favored Nation Status; POW/MIA mission; Black Lake Conference Center (Onaway, Mich.); International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. President
Blanchard, James J., 1942-; Bluestone, Irving; Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 1928-; Carter, James Earl, Jr., 1924-; Chai, Zemin, 1916-; Deng, Xiaoping, 1904-1997; Fraser, Douglas, 1956-2008; Jiang, Zemin, 1926-; Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968; Kissinger, Henry, 1923-; Mondale, Walter F., 1928-; Reuther, Walter, 1907-1970; Trudeau, G.B., 1948- Doonesbury; Tyler, Patrick; Woodcock, Sharon; Zhao, Ziyang
Series 2: Special Events and Honors, 1968-2008 Over the years, Leonard Woodcock was invited to share his expertise on both Sino-American relations and the labor movement, receiving numerous recognitions for his contributions to both fields. The Special Events and Honors series documents these official functions, specifically ones Woodcock took part in outside of China. Typical events Woodcock took part in included accompanying Chinese heads-of-state during visits to America (notably Deng Xiaoping), receiving honorary degrees from dozens of American institutes of higher education, and special lectures and panel discussions at conferences. Also of note are materials from special events and celebrations honoring Woodcock for his charitable contributions and years of service to the state and the UAW.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1977-2001 The Correspondence comes from Woodcock's general correspondence files. Unlike correspondence related to specific subjects found in other series, these materials cover a broader and more personal range of topics.
Series 4: Personal Materials, 1911-2001 The Personal Materials series encompasses a variety of materials from Leonard Woodcock’s personal and everyday life. Notable sections include vital records from throughout his life, personal reference materials regarding China, materials for his memorial service, appointment books from the 1950s and 1960s, and transcripts of oral histories he made.
Series 5: Professional Career, 1969-1999 Three subseries make up the Professional Career series. The subseries consist of materials from Woodcock’s time as an executive for the UAW, his teaching materials from his career as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan, and other business affiliations of his.
Subseries A: United Auto Workers, 1969-1999 The UAW subseries involves materials from Woodcock’s time spent serving in the upper echelons of the union in the 1960s to his continued involvement years after retirement. Materials documenting several high-profile events are included in the series, such as the UAW’s fiftieth anniversary celebration, the creation and promotion of the UAW’s Black Lake Center, and Woodcock’s retirement tribute in 1977. Record types found in the collection range from correspondence, event programs, promotional pamphlets, newspaper clippings, to commemorative scrapbooks.
Subseries B: Teaching Materials, 1981-1998 Woodcock’s various teaching materials from time spent as an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Michigan comprise the largest part of this subseries. These files include his personal lecture notes, a map of China to hang in class, syllabi, and news articles he kept for reference. His courses covered modern Chinese politics and history. Records for other teaching opportunities he participated in, such as guest lectures for other courses and a class he taught senior citizens, make up the rest of the teaching materials.
Subseries C: Affiliations, 1983-1990 Woodcock participated in several significant business ventures in the 1980s, and this subseries documents the several corporations he was affiliated with. Record types include his personal notes, promotional materials for the general public, internal memos, general accounting information, and some correspondence.
Series 6: Audiovisual, Oversize, and Commemorative Materials, 1940s-1995 Contains photographic prints, slides, audiocassette tapes, large items, and commemorative objects, stored separately due to preservation and size constraints. The bulk of these records are photographic items from time spent in China and photographic prints from various UAW events Woodcock participated in as Vice-President and President. The rest of the materials encompass large items and memorabilia, including posters, photographic portraits, political buttons, and other miscellaneous items. Several photographs with personal messages from American presidents and other prominent figures were removed and taken to the vault, with photocopies taking their place in the collection.
- 1911 - 2008
- Majority of material found within 1972 - 1993
- Oksenberg, Michel (Interviewer, Person)
Language of Materials
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.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Woodcock’s family moved to Germany and then England before eventually settling in Detroit, Michigan in 1926. He attended secondary school in the United Kingdom but began university in the States, enrolling at Wayne State University (then called Detroit City College).
Dropping out of college due to the economic struggles of the Great Depression in 1933, Woodcock became a machine assembler at the Detroit Gear and Machine Division of Borg-Warner Corporation. This led to the beginning of his active career with the labor movement, where he helped form the AFL Federal Labor Union at his workplace. The AFL Federal Labor Union developed into a section of the UAW, and Woodcock would eventually go to work for the union as an administrative assistant for International President Walter P. Reuther in 1946.
Woodcock rose in prominence at the UAW, becoming a member of the International Executive Board as Regional Director of Western and Northern Michigan in 1947 and serving as International Vice-President of the UAW from 1955-1970. Other positions he held at that time within the UAW included leading the Agricultural Implement Department, Aerospace Department, and the General Motors Department. After the passing of Reuther in 1970, Woodcock was elected as the President by the executive board of the UAW. He was re-elected as President in 1972 and 1974 before he finally retired from the position in May 1977. He was designated as International President Emeritus that same year.
Woodcock began his career in international relations traveling the world as President of the World Automotive Council of the International Metal Workers’ Federation from 1970 to 1977. President Jimmy Carter then chose Woodcock to head a Presidential Commission to Hanoi regarding American soldiers missing in action. This led to his appointment as Chief of the US Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in July 1977. During his tenure, Woodcock led negotiations with the PRC to establish for the first time full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two governments. Normalization was achieved between Woodcock and Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping on December 15, 1978. When it came time to appoint the first American ambassador to the PRC, President Carter again turned to Leonard Woodcock. He officially became ambassador after Senate approval in February of 1979. He held the position until 1981.
Other notable accomplishments and positions held by Woodcock include Chairman of the Board of Governors of Wayne State University, member of the Executive and Central Committees for the International Metalworkers’ Federation, and professor of political science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is the recipient of 17 honorary degrees from American universities and colleges.
Leonard Woodcock had three children with Loula Martin, whom he married in 1941. They eventually divorced and he later remarried Sharon Tuohy in 1978, an American nurse he met while serving in China. Woodcock passed away on January 16, 2001, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
38.5 Linear Feet ((66 MB, 5 OS). ) : Includes 78 audiocassettes and 37 printed transcripts.
46.05 Megabytes ((138 files). ) : Includes WAVs and MP3s.
The Leonard Woodcock Papers primarily cover the subject’s time spent in China and his various China-related activities. The earliest of these materials document his efforts working for the US government in Beijing, though also included are records related to visits made to China in the following years to speak on Sino-American relations. Other records reflect Woodcock’s later career as a renowned Sinologist, teaching courses at the University of Michigan and guest lecturing around the nation. Besides Woodcock’s time in China, other topics included are materials from his time as president of the UAW, general correspondence, and serving on the Board of Governors at Wayne State University. Complementing the manuscript materials on Woodcock's diplomatic career in China are 37 oral history interviews on this topic conducted between him and fellow Sinologist Michel Oksenberg.
The collection is arranged into six series. Series 5 is divided into three subseries.
Series 1: Trips and Missions to China, 1977-1999 (Boxes 1-16) The series is arranged by either record type or subject, with chronological order loosely followed for the secondary arrangement.
Series 2: Special Events and Honors, 1968-2008 (Boxes 17-24) The series is arranged chronologically by the dates the events took place.
Series 3: Correspondence, 1977-2001 (Boxes 25-30) The series is arranged alphabetically by the name of the individual or organization listed in the folder heading. In addition, the restricted files are grouped together and then arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Personal Materials, 1911-2001 (Boxes 31-49) The series is arranged by either record type or subject, with chronological order followed for the secondary arrangement.
Series 5: Professional Career, 1969-1999 (Boxes 45-46) The series is divided into three subseries.
Subseries A: United Auto Workers, 1969-1999 (Boxes 45-46) The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B: Teaching Materials, 1981-1998 (Boxes 47-48) The subseries is arranged by either record type or subject/name of lectures.
Subseries C: Affiliations, 1983-1990 (Box 49) The subseries is arranged by company/program name.
Series 6: Audiovisual and Oversize Materials, 1940s-1995 (Boxes 50-70) The series is arranged by record type, with a secondary arrangement of grouping materials by subject. Finally, a tertiary arrangement of ordering the files chronologically within their respective subjects is employed. Oversize items are arranged by size in their box.
- Guide to the Leonard Woodcock Papers
- Processed by Gavin Strassel.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.