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Ben Legere Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP000709

Scope and Content

Legere's papers reflect his activities in the American and Canadian labor movements, California politics, and West Coast theater. They are arranged in four series.

Series Description: Series 1: 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: Materials relating to 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: Legere's correspondence covering the period 1900 to 1965. The correspondence reflects Legere's social, political and theatrical activities and is arranged chronologically within subject and correspondent groupings.

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

Dates

  • 1906 - 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.

History

Benjamin J. (Ben) Legere was born in Tauton, Massachusetts, on May 30, 1887. An actor by profession, 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 Legere was a participant in the New York actors' strike, and in 1922 he was one of the leaders of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike.

Moving to the West Coast in the mid-1920s, 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, 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.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (9 MB, 1 OS portfolio)

Abstract

Union activist Benjamin Legere (1887-1972) worked in the theater as an actor, playwright, and director. He 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). Legere’s papers reflect his activities in the American and Canadian labor movements, California politics and the theater.

Arrangement

Material is arranged chronologically within subject and correspondent groupings in 4 series. Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-5), Series 3 (Boxes 5-8), Series 4 (Boxes 8-9).

Acquisition

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

Related Materials

Matilda Robbins Papers, John and Phyllis Collier Papers, and the IWW Collections at the Reuther Library.

Transfers

Twelve unidentified photographs, a painting and two negatives have been placed in the Reuther Archives Audio Visual Collection. A tape of reminiscences made by Ben Legere in the early 1960s 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.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Ben Legere Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA