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Ben Legere Papers

Identifier: LP000709
Mr. Legere's papers reflect his activities in the American and Canadian labor movements, California politics, and West Coast theater.

Series Description: Series 1: Series I is composed of biographical materials including two chapters of an incomplete autobiography manuscript, portions of two diaries, fragments of several incomplete literary manuscripts and appointment books.

Series 2: Series II contains materials relating to Mr. Legere's activities in the American and Canadian labor movements and California politics covering the period between 1910 and 1970. Included are materials relating to the I.W.W., the Canadian One Big Union, the Little Falls textile strike of 1912, the Lawrence textile strike of 1922, and the California United Labor Campaign of 1935.

Series 3: Series III is composed of Mr. Legere's correspondence covering the period 1900-1965. The correspondence reflects Mr. Legere's social, political and theatrical activities and is arranged chronologically within subject and correspondent groupings.

Series 4: Series IV contains materials reflecting Mr. Legere's theater activities during the period 1910-1950. The materials include clippings of reviews of Mr. Legere's performances, a series of theater columns written by Mr. Legere during the 1930's and a collection of theater memorabilia.


  • 1906 - 1970


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.


5 Linear Feet (9 MB, 1 OS portfolio)


Union activist Benjamin Legere worked in the theater as an actor, playwright, and director and participated in both the American and Canadian labor movements as a member of the General Executive Board of the Canadian One Big Union and an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Mr. Legere’s papers reflect his activities in the American and Canadian labor movements, California politics, and the theater.


Benjamin J. Legere was born in Tauton, Massachusetts, on May 30, 1887. An actor by profession Mr. Legere was active in both the American and Canadian Labor movements as an I.W.W. organizer and as a member of the General Executive Board of the Canadian One Big Union. In 1912 he helped lead the Little Falls, New York, textile strike. During 1919 Mr. Legere was a participant in the New York actor's strike and in 1922 he was one of the leaders of the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike.

Moving to the West Coast in the mid-1920's Mr. Legere was active in San Francisco Bay Area theater and radio as a playwright, actor, director and critic. Several of his plays, which dealt with labor movement themes, were financial successes.

In addition to his work in the theater and labor movement Mr. Legere held positions in a number of reformist political organizations and causes: First Secretary of the San Francisco Council of the Democratic Party, Chairman of the California Production for Use Congress, Chairman of the Joint Bay Area Strike Committee of the W.P.A. and the San Francisco Bay Area Sobell Committee.

Ben Legere died on January 29, 1972.


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-5) and Series 3 (Boxes 5-8), and Series 4 (Boxes 8-9).


The papers of Benjamin J. Legere were placed in the Walter Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs in June of 1975 by Mrs. Sheila Whitaker Hutchings. Additional material was added Legere's granddaughter, Robbin Legere Henderson in 2013.

Related Materials

Matilda Robbins Papers, John & Phyllis Collier Papers, and the IWW Collections


Twelve unidentified photographs, a painting and two negatives have been placed in the Archives Audio Visual Collection. A tape of reminiscences made by Ben Legere in the early 1960's was donated to the Archives Oral History Collection in 1970 by Barbara Dane.

One folder of photographs of Legere's parents was transferred to the Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.


Guide to the Ben Legere Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014-06-05: Finding aid revised by Deborah Rice.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA