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Blacks in the Labor Movement Oral Histories

 Collection
Identifier: LOH002210
Collection consists of transcripts of oral history interviews. Primary focus is on the experiences of African American men in the automobile industry in and around Detroit, from as early as the 1910s to the late 1960s. Some women were interviewed and discuss their varying labor experiences, including work in the garment industry and the compounded effects of racial and sex-based discrimination. Pullman workers were interviewed as well. Significant events affecting the local autmobile industry and the city of Detroit are also touched upon, including the 1943 and 1967 race riots, as well as racial discrimination in day-to-day life, such as in housing. Notable among the interviews were those conducted with Robert "Buddy" Battle, Horace Sheffield, and Shelton Tappes, pioneering African Americans in the automobile industry and in the United Automobile Workers in Detroit. Their reminscences include accounts of internal conflict within the UAW on racial issues. Brief descriptions of each individual interviewee and interview topics are available upon request.
The following 31 participants were interviewed, some of them on multiple occasions: Frances Albrier, Robert “Buddy” Battle, Joseph Billups (with participation by Shelton Tappes), Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Billups (interviewed together), Geraldine Bledsoe, Joseph Coles, George Crockett Jr., Malcolm Dade, Nick DiGaetano, Edward L. Doty, Snow Grigsby, Ray Hatcher, Rev. Charles Hill, Dorothy Jones, William Lattimore, Jack Lever, David Livingston, Eleanor Macki, Frank Marquart, Hodges Mason (combined transcript from November 28, 1967, and February 6, 1968 interviews), Arthur McPhaul, James Neeley, Arthur Osman (interviewed twice over consecutive days; combined transcript), Jack Raskin, Zeline Richard, George Robertson, Horace Sheffield, C. LeBron Simmons, Birney Smith, Shelton Tappes (combined transcript for October 27, 1967, and February 2, 1968 interviews), and Beulah Whitby.

Dates

  • 1967-03-12 - 1970-12-31

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.

RESTRICTIONS: Due to the personal nature of oral history, the Library prohibits use of the material in any way that infringes on individual right to privacy, or results in libelous statements or slander, in accordance with U.S. law.
For the following 15 interviews, permission to publish or quote must be obtained from the interviewee or interviewee heirs or assigns: Frances Albrier, Geraldine Bledsoe, Malcolm Dade, Nick DiGaetano, Edward L. Doty, Dorothy Jones, William Lattimore, David Livingston, Eleanor Macki, Arthur McPhaul, Arhtur Osman, Jack Raskin, Zeline Richard, C. LeBron Simmons, and Beulah Whitby.

Extent

1.5 Linear Feet ((3 MB). ) : Consists of 31 printed transcripts.

102.4 Megabytes ((3 files). ) : Consists of PDFs.

Abstract

In late 1967, Herbert Hill, labor director for the NAACP, visited Wayne State University in Detroit to conduct oral histories with African American men and women on their experiences in the labor movement. Between 1967 and 1970, Hill, with local interviewers Roberta McBride, Jim Keeney, and Norman McRae, completed numerous interviews in Detroit. Hill also visited New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Berkeley for several additional interviews to round out what would become known as the Blacks in the Labor Movement Oral History Project. Collection consists of transcripts of oral history interviews. Primary focus is on the experiences of African American men in the automobile industry in and around Detroit, from as early as the 1910s to the late 1960s. Some women were interviewed and discuss their varying labor experiences, including work in the garment industry and the compounded effects of racial and sex-based discrimination. Pullman workers were interviewed as well. Significant events affecting the local autmobile industry and the city of Detroit are also touched upon, including the 1943 and 1967 race riots, as well as racial discrimination in day-to-day life, such as in housing. Notable among the interviews were those conducted with Robert "Buddy" Battle, Horace Sheffield, and Shelton Tappes, pioneering African Americans in the automobile industry and in the United Automobile Workers in Detroit. Their reminscences include accounts of internal conflict within the UAW on racial issues. Brief descriptions of each individual interviewee and interview topics are available upon request.

History

In late 1967, Herbert Hill, labor director for the NAACP, visited Wayne State University in Detroit to conduct oral histories with African American men and women on their experiences in the labor movement. Between 1967 and 1970, Hill, with local interviewers Roberta McBride, Jim Keeney, and Norman McRae, completed numerous interviews in Detroit. Hill also visited New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Berkeley for several additional interviews to round out what would become known as the Blacks in the Labor Movement Oral History Project.

Arrangement

Transcripts are arranged alphabetically by interviewee last name.

Custodial History

The original name of the project and the collection was “Blacks in the Labor Movement Oral History Project.”

Acquisition

Probably donated by Roberta McBride, Walter P. Reuther Library, on or after 1970.

Other Copies

The following interview transcripts were digitized and are available as PDFs: Reverend Charles Hill, Horace Sheffield, Shelton Tappes (2 interviews are combined into one electronic file).

Related Materials

Norman McRae Papers

Processing History

Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library. Finding aid written by Rebecca Bizonet on September 21, 2016.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Blacks in the Labor Movement Oral Histories
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library. Finding aid written by Rebecca Bizonet.
Date
2016-09-21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Description made possible by funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-02-21: Inventory added by Ciera Casteel.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA