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Helen Bowers Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP001879
The papers of Helen Bowers reflect her work with the DFT and education reform initiatives. This involves pre-collective bargaining rights in dealing with academic freedom, civil liberties as well as a living wage for teachers. Communism files contain a thorough documentation of the Maki Case trial from clippings from the three Detroit newspapers. The collection also contains very useful information about how the union gained power after collective bargaining was won. Their influence in education issues is seen in issues about accountability, decentralization and student rights.

Papers consist of newspaper clippings, correspondence, reports, organizational campaign materials and publications documenting early union activity of the DFT and educational issues as well as items from various press reports to help her develop the Detroit Teacher newspaper

Important Subjects: Accountability Collective Bargaining Communism Schools – Detroit - Michigan Strike Decentralization Education Maki Case Student Rights Student Unrest – Detroit - Michigan

Series Description: Series I General Subjects, 1934-1994

Articles, letters, organizational campaign materials and publications, and papers documenting early union activity of the DFT and educational issues.

Series II Helen Bowers’ Personal Materials, 1940s-1989 Art, articles, biographies, drawings, handwritten documents, and papers, from which Helen Bowers

Dates

  • 1934 - 1995
  • Majority of material found within 1947 - 1970

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet (5 MB)

Abstract

Helen Marie Newman Bowers was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on May 16, 1908. After graduating from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, she began teaching art in Detroit, Michigan in 1933 and quickly got involved with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), Local 231. She left the teaching profession in 1958 to become the executive secretary of the DFT. Together with DFT President Mary Ellen Riordan, Detroit teachers won collective bargaining in 1964. Helen Bowers won duty-free lunch hours for elementary teachers, and conceived of “demonstration picketing” before schools opened in the morning to raise awareness to the community about why teachers were demanding collective bargaining. Ms. Bowers served on the Executive Board and became editor of the DFT newspaper, The Detroit Teacher.

The papers of Helen Bowers reflect her work with the DFT and education reform initiatives. This involves pre-collective bargaining rights in dealing with academic freedom, civil liberties as well as a living wage for teachers. Communism files contain a thorough documentation of the Maki Case trial from clippings from the three Detroit newspapers. The collection also contains very useful information about how the union gained power after collective bargaining was won. Their influence in education issues is seen in issues about accountability, decentralization and student rights.

History

Helen Marie Newman Bowers was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on May 16, 1908. After graduating from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, she began teaching art in Detroit, Michigan in 1933 and quickly got involved with the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), Local 231. Helen Bowers earned her Masters degree at Wayne State University. She left the teaching profession in 1958 to become the executive secretary of the DFT. Ms Bowers initiated and supervised the purchase of the first office building owned by the DFT. Together with DFT President Mary Ellen Riordan, Detroit teachers won collective bargaining in 1964. That contract served as the model for other early union contracts throughout the United States. Helen Bowers won duty-free lunch hours for elementary teachers, and conceived of “demonstration picketing” before schools opened in the morning to raise awareness to the community about why teachers were demanding collective bargaining. Ms. Bowers served on the Executive Board and became editor of the DFT newspaper, The Detroit Teacher. She attended numerous state and local conventions as a delegate, and from 1964 to 1968 served two terms as AFT Vice-President. Helen Bowers retired in 1974.

During her retirement Bowers focused her efforts with the DFT and union politics. She died on May 9, 1994.

Arrangement

Arranged in 2 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-5), Series 2 (Box 5). Series I files are arranged alphabetically by subject and correspondent, and chronologically within the files. Series II files are arranged alphabetically by given name of file, per Helen Bowers, and chronologically within the files.

Acquisition

The papers were deposited with the Walter P. Reuther Library via Mary Ellen Riordan when she deposited her papers on December 1, 2005.

Related Materials

Detroit Federation of Teachers collection, Michigan Federation of Teachers collection, Detroit Commission on Community Relations

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Daniel Golodner in 2010.
Title
Guide to the Helen Bowers Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Daniel Golodner.
Date
2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA