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William Bledsoe Papers

Identifier: UP002783

Scope and Content

Series 1: General Files, 1947-2002 Series 2: Oversize Files, 1973.

The General Files series contains a broad ephemera of work-related materials, including opinions, cases, correspondence, election notes, and commission reports. The Oversize Files contain a map of Highland Park, as well as a campaign sticker for Circuit Court.


  • 1947 - 2002
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1989


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.


Honorable William F. Bledsoe III was born November 20, 1929, to parents Harold Bledsoe and Mamie Geraldine Bledsoe. Early signs of William's interest in the law and activism came about when he began his academic career at Olivet College in 1947. Mr. Bledsoe would graduate from Olivet in 1952, and would go on to earn his law degree from Wayne State University. Following admittance to the Michigan Bar, Bledsoe would go on to serve in private practice, then immediately joining the ranks of the Michigan attorney general's office, under Frank Kelley, to assist in the state commission on Civil Rights. It was during this time that William Bledsoe met Wilma, whom he married in 1970. Follwing his time here, the Honorable William Bledsoe was elected District Court Judge in 1980, under District 30 in Highland Park, where he served for nearly 20 years. Judge William Bledsoe passed away on November 10, 2006.

Judge Bledsoe was also a part of the Black United Fund of Michigan, as well as their first chairman, and was involved with the Wolverine Bar Association. Law runs deep within the Bledsoe family. His father worked as an attorney and his sister, Geraldine Bledsoe Ford, was the 1st female African American to be elected judgeship in 1966.


8 Linear Feet (7 SB, 1 OS)


William F. Bledsoe held a long career in the field of law. Working under Attorney General Frank Kelley, as well as being elected to the 30th District Court in Highland Park, Judge Bledsoe is particularly noted for cases pertaining to civil rights issues.


Arranged into 2 series - Series 1 (Boxes 1-7) and Series 2 (Box 8).

Folders in each series are simply listed by their location within each box. They are semi-arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.


Materials were deposited at the Walter P. Reuther Library by Wilma Ray Bledsoe on April 23, 2018.

Related Materials

Department of Africana Studies Records, the Wayne State University College of Education, Dean’s Office: Detroit Public Schools Monitoring Commission on Desegregation Records, the Merle Henrickson Collection, and the Cornelius Golightly Papers

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Mark Prindiville on September 28, 2018.
Guide to the William Bledsoe Papers
Processed by Mark Prindiville.
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