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William Gernaey Papers

Identifier: LP002782

Scope and Content

This collection consists of records that reflect William Gernaey's occupation as an investigational operative of communist activities for Chrysler Corporation Detroit, his operation of a subversive investigation department for Ford Motor Company, and as a liaison with the FBI, State and City Police, and Navy and Army Intelligence during World War II. Included are: correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, undercover field notes, background subject files, an autobiography, personal records, and the monograph High Treason by Albert E. Kahn.


  • 1938 - 1951


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.


1 Linear Feet (1 SB)


William Gernaey was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 27, 1903. He attended the University of Michigan from 1920-1923 and majored in political economics. From there he studied one year each of business administration and accounting at Detroit Business University.

From 1923 to 1927 Gernaey was employed by the Chrysler Corporation Detroit, as an industrial efficiency expert. From there he transitioned to investigating communist activities as an operative from 1927 to 1936. As a part of these investigations he was a member of the Youth Communist League and through his involvement in the group advanced to district secretariat and member of the Central Committee. He eventually became the section organizer of the North Detroit and Hamtramck sections of the party.

In 1937 Gernaey started working for the Ford Motor Company. Here he established and organized an office on subversive activities where he investigated communist and pro-Axis Ford employees. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was authorized by his supervisor at Ford, to be a liaison to the FBI, both State and the City of Detroit Police, and Navy and Army intelligence.


This collection is arranged in 1 series. Folders are arranged by subject and span the dates from 1938-1951.


This collection was donated to the Walter P. Reuther Library on 2017-10-09 by Peggy Wallace and Andrew G. Folgmann.

Related Materials

Refer to Walter P. Reuther collections on the early Labor Movement, Labor Unions and Communism, and World War II.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Elizabeth Nicholson on February 20, 2018.
Guide to the William Gernaey Papers
Processed by Elizabeth Nicholson.
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