Skip to main content

Roy Reuther Papers

Identifier: LP001334

Scope and Content

The papers of Mr. Reuther reflect the Reuther family, his activities at Brookwood Labor College, his career with the UAW and WPB, and his activities concerning voter registration and worker education. Also included are condolence messages and other material collected by Mrs. Reuther following Mr. Reuther's death.

Series 1: Brookwood Labor College Files, 1927-1937 Course material and other items concerning Brookwood Labor College.

Series 2: United Auto Workers Files, 1936-1970 Clippings, notes and other material concerning Mr. Reuther's employment with the UAW. Particularly well documented is the General Motors strike of 1936-1937.

Series 3: War Production Board and Military Service Files, 1942-1945 Correspondence, reports, personnel records and other material relating to Mr. Reuther's service with the War Production Board and in the U. S. Army.

Series 4: Roy and Fania Reuther Personal Files, 1924-1971 Subseries A: Roy and Fania Reuther Personal Files, 1924-1971 Correspondence, clippings and other material concerning Mr. Reuther, the Reuther family and other subjects of interest to Mr. and Mrs. Reuther. Particularly well documented is the inauguration and assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Subseries B: Roy Reuther Memorial Material, 1968-1971 Correspondence, condolence messages, clippings and other material received by the Reuther family following Mr. Reuther's death on January 10, 1968.

Subseries C: Publications, 1929-1968 Pamphlets and other publications collected by Mr. and Mrs. Reuther.


  • 1924 - 1971
  • Majority of material found within 1936 - 1971

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.


Roy Reuther was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on August 29, 1909. He was the fourth son of Valentine and Anna (Stocker) Reuther. After attending Wheeling High School Mr. Reuther took an apprenticeship with an electrical firm, joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 1927. Laid off from his job in Wheeling, Mr, Reuther joined his brothers, Walter and Victor, in Detroit in 1932. Mr. Reuther became interested in labor education while a student at the City College of Detroit (now Wayne State University). He obtained a job as an instructor for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (F.E.R.A.) and attended the Wisconsin School for Workers and Brookwood Labor College. He also served as a faculty member at Brookwood until his return to Detroit in 1936. Mr. Reuther obtained a job at the Chevrolet Gear and Axle plant, and joined the UAW. He became an assistant organizing director of the UAW in Flint, and was a leader of the 1936-1937 sit-down strike against General Motors, During World War II, Mr. Reuther took a leave of absence from the UAW to serve as a labor information specialist with the War Production Board (WPB). He briefly served in the U.S. Army before being recalled to the WPB. Mr. Reuther returned to the UAW, serving as administrative assistant to UAW Vice President John W. Livingston from 1948 until 1949 when he became administrative assistant to his brother, UAW President Walter Reuther, in 1949. Mr. Reuther also served as director of the UAW Citizenship Department and Citizenship-Legislative Department. He was a supporter of California farm workers and also developed a close association with President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. Mr. Reuther continued to serve the UAW until his death on January 10, 1968. In addition to his work with the UAW, Mr. Reuther directed national voter registration campaigns during the 1960 and 1962 elections. He was appointed to a Presidential Commission to study state and local voter registration in 1963. Mr. Reuther married Fania Sonkin in 1944, and had two sons, Alan and David. Born in Russia, Mrs. Reuther immigrated to the United States in 1923 with her mother, brothers, and sisters. Mr. and Mrs. Reuther met as students at Brookwood Labor College.


5.25 Linear Feet (11 MB)


Correspondence, newspaper clippings, newspapers, reports, notes, and pamphlets collected by Roy Reuther, who served as national director of the UAW's Citizenship and Legislative Department and administrative assistant to Walter P. Reuther. In addition, he was co-director of the National Voters' Registration Committee in John Kennedy's presidential campaign (1960), director of AFL-CIO's voter registration campaign (1962 and 1964), and appointed member of a President's commission to study state and local laws concerning voter registration and elections (1963). Subjects include UAW's PAC registration drives; AFL-CIO's COPE registration drive and financial affairs; Democratic politics and elections (national, Michigan, and Detroit); congressional debate on civil rights (1958-59); Brookwood Labor College (1936); Wayne County CIO Council; and the Third World Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (1953). Major correspondents are Victor Reuther, Walter Reuther, and Paul Sifton. An oral history interview with Mr. Reuther concerning the Flint sit-downs is available.


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-3), Series 3 (Boxes 3-4), and and Series 4 (Boxes 4-11). Folders in Series 1-3 are arranged alphabetically, folders in Series 4 Subseries A and B are arranged by local union number and Subseries C is arranged alphabetically by subject.


The papers of Roy Reuther were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs between 1966 and 1977 and opened for research in June of 1987.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in June, 1987.

Audiovisual materials processed and finding aid updated by Katie Okonowski on November 22, 2019.
Guide to the Roy Reuther 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