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John F. Williams Papers

Identifier: LP000598

Scope and Content

Mr. Williams' papers reflect his work with the Union (both his local and the Central Labor Body) and, to a lesser degree, his Democratic Party Affiliation.

Series 1: Pipefitters Local 636 and related Unions Clippings, minutes of meetings, some correspondence relating to Local 636 and their Building Association, Inc., and Matthews vs. Pipefitters (court case). Letters from and about The Detroit Building Trades Council, Michigan Council, and United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry. Time period covered: 1951-1968.

Series 2: Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor Papers relating to the work of The Detroit and Wayne Co. Federation of Labor from 1942 to 1958. Included are materials and newspaper clippings on the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations classes, meeting minutes, and the Per Capata tax book. There are a few items on the Michigan Federation of Labor and the Pontiac-Oakland County Federation of Labor.

Series 3: AFL-CIO Merger The papers in this series cover the AFL-CIO Merger both in Wayne County (1957-1958) and in Michigan (1958). Included are minutes of the meetings, hearings and newspaper clippings.

Series 4: AFL-CIO These papers include minutes of meetings, committee reports, etc., and material on the Michigan State Convention. Also included are the desk calendars, office memos, and some private correspondence of Mr. Williams as Secretary-Treasurer (1958-1968).

Series 5: CIO-COPE This series includes the working papers of the political advisory board of the CIO. 1940-194: Labor's Non-Partisan League; 1944-1955: ClO-Political Action Council; 156-158: C.O.P.E. Items include newspaper clippings, election results, and voter breakdown by pre-cincts and wards.

Series 6: Democratic Party These papers cover Mr. Williams' personal involvement in the Democratic Party. Included are his materials about the 1960 Democratic National Convention and a hand corrected copy of John F. Kennedy's Labor Day (1960) Speech delivered in Detroit.

Series 7: Miscellaneous Papers Newspaper clippings, reference materials and programs from various events make up the bulk of this series.

Series 8: Oversize Material These materials include maps of Democratic Party Constituancies for the 1960 election, Michigan Pipefitters Association juridictional map, pages from two ledgers, the CIO check register (19U8-1952); CIO check register (1952-1954); CIO Citizenship fund register.


  • 1938 - 1968
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1968


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.


John F. Williams was born November 5, 1909. He became a steamfitter's helper when he was 21 years old, and was initiated into Pipe Fitters Local Union #636 (Detroit) in 1935. During the next two years he helped organize the Johnson Larsen Shop in Detroit. He became recording secre¬- tary of Local 636 in 1937 and was later elected Business Manager of that local. In 1952 he was elected the first President of the Midwest Building Trades Council, and in 1953 he became President of the Executive Board of the Detroit Building Trades Council. He served as president and then a second term as Business Manager for Local 636. In 1956 he was elected Administrative Assistant to the President of the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor, and served on the committee which engineered the merger of the AFL and CIO in Detroit in 1958. After the merger, Mr. Williams served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Central Labor Body until 1968 when he ran unopposed for the office of Wayne County Auditor. In addition to his work with the AFL-CIO, Mr. Williams was an active member of the Democratic Party gaining renown as state director of Senator Patrick V. McNamara's successful 1954 Senate Campaign, and serving as an alternate delegate from Michigan to the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He was also involved with such organizations as the Michigan Employment Securities Commission Advisory Council, Michigan State Asso-ciation of Plumbers and Pipefitters, The Wayne County Civic League, Dear-born Senator's Club, and the Mayor's Citizen's Advisory Committee on Police Procedures.


10 Linear Feet (17 MB, 2 OS)


A member of the Pipe Fitters Local Union No. 636, John F. Williams served as president of the Midwest Building Trades Council, as president of the Detroit Building Trades Council Executive Board, and held various positions within the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Mr. Williams was active in Michigan state Democratic politics and served in various civic organizations, such as the Wayne County Civic League and the Mayor’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Police Procedures.


Arranged in 8 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes 3-4), Series 3 (Box 5), Series 4 (Boxes 5-12), Series 5 (Boxes 12-15), Series 6 (Box 16), Series 7 (Box 17), and Series 8 (oversize boxes). Folders are arranged arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material and chronologically within each topic for Series 1-7. Materials within Series 8 are simply listed in the order in which they appear.


The papers of John F. Williams were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in April of 1973 by Mr. Williams.


4 photographs: #1 - AFL-CIO Merger group photograph (1957); #2 - McNamara dinner 1964; #3 and #4 - unidentified; and miscellaneous memorabilia have "been placed in the Archives Audio-Visual collection. Several pamphlets and 13 Labor news-papers have been placed in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the John F. Williams 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