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Michael W. Kerwin Papers

 Collection
Identifier: UP001330

Scope and Content

This collection is processed into series by decade. Currently, there are 2 series: 1: 1930s-1940s, 2: 1950s. More series will be added as they are processed.

The 1930s-1940s series contains early records from the 15th District Democrats, other Democratic organizations, and political elections. Manuals and documentation on Detroit City Planning, the Irish in Detroit, course material and activities of Michael Kerwin while attending the University of Chicago, as well as a UAW scrapbook and a UAW-CIO agreement and materials from the Education Department.

The 1950s series contains 5 subseries: Labor - UAW, Labor - Other, Politics, Detroit, Personal. This material follows Kerwin's work begginning with Local 174 and continuing with the UAW Education Department. His Education Department work includes notes and discussion guides for member and steward classes, including at summer camp, as well as some materials from the UAW Library, film library, and internal memos regarding day-to-day work. Kerwin's involvement and documentation of other labor organizations like the Greater Detroit and Wayne County AFL-CIO and Michigan State AFL-CIO are also present in this series. POLITICS. This series documents Kerwin's involvement with the Democratic political scene in Detroit and statewide, and provides both an overview of the political climate at that time and the minutiae of polititians and political districts. DETROIT. This series reflects Kerwin's personal interest, work with the UAW and subsequent involvement with various aspects of the City of Detroit. PERSONAL. This series contains a small amount of personal material related to Kerwin's education, thesis, and job searching efforts.

Series 1: 1930s-1940s Series 2: 1950s

Dates

  • 1920 - 1965

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

Michael (Mike) Kerwin was born on June 18, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, the second of eight children born to Edward and Marie Kerwin.

After graduating from Fenwick High School in 1942, Kerwin studied Chemistry at Xavier University (1942-1943), General Studies at Holy Cross College (1946-1947), and Meteorology and grad study in International Relations at University of Chicago (1947-1950). In between and during periods of study, Kerwin worked as a Laboratory Assistant at Corn Products Refining Co. (1942), served as a Radar Repairman in the U.S. Army (1943-1946), and as Maintenance at International House at University of Chicago (1948-1950).

In 1950, Kerwin moved to Detroit and began work at American Metal Products Co. As a Punch Press Operator making metal seat frames on an assembly line. This job led to his membership with the UAW Local 174. Mike Kerwin also served as an Editor of the Local 174 newsletter, Union Voice. After 3 years in this position and becoming increasingly involved in Local 174’s Education Committee, Kerwin began working directly for the UAW as a Technician in the Education Department. Kerwin worked in the UAW Education Department until 1974, and from 1982-1989 when he retired, creating educational programs and teaching union members about a wide variety of important topics including collective bargaining, right-to-work laws, and labor history. Kerwin worked as the Detroit Deputy City Clerk from 1974-1982.

Kerwin’s work with the UAW, as well as his own interests, led him to be very active in a number of Detroit and Michigan area groups related to the Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, Catholic faith, and labor. Shortly before moving to Detroit, Kerwin began helping run elections. Through his many dedicated years of this work, he served in many capacities including Precinct Captain, Delegate to Democratic National Convention, and in December 2020 as an Elector for the State of Michigan, representing the 14th Congressional District. Due to his strong interest in politics and elections, Kerwin also joined the 15th District Democrats, as well as County and State groups. Some of his political involvement is closely linked to his work with the UAW Education Department, such as with Serve Our Schools, a group that aimed to help liberal candidates get elected to the Detroit Board of Education.

In the mid-1970s, Kerwin helped found the Michigan Labor History Society and remains an active member, serving primarily as the Program Committee Chair and on the Board of Directors. His contributions to this non-profit group have aided in the creation and continuation of local labor tours, published information on labor history, and the important sculpture and monument, Transcending, located at Hart Plaza in Detroit honoring the Michigan labor movement. Kerwin continued to serve as a member of the both the Board of Directors and on the Program Committee until the end of his life.

Kerwin married Ann Haggarty in 1953 and had four children, William (Bill), Katie, Jim, and Joe. Michael W. Kerwin passed away on July 19, 2021.

Extent

29 Linear Feet (26 SB, 1 OS)

Abstract

MIke Kerwin moved to Detroit in 1950 and began work at American Metal Products Co. which led to his membership with the UAW Local 174. Mike Kerwin also served as an Editor of the Local 174 newsletter, Union Voice. After 3 years in this position and becoming increasingly involved in Local 174’s Education Committee, Kerwin began working directly for the UAW as a Technician in the Education Department. Kerwin worked in the UAW Education Department for most of his career, creating educational programs for union members. He also served as the Detroit Deputy City Clerk from 1974-1982.

Kerwin’s work with the UAW, as well as his own interests, led him to be very active in a number of Detroit and Michigan area groups related to the Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, Irish heritage, and labor. Among his many accomplishments, Kerwin helped found the Michigan Labor History Society in 1977 and remains an active member.

Arrangement

Arranged in 2 series – Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Box 1-27). Folders are arranged in rough alphabetical order.

Additional series will be made available as they are processed.

Acquisition

This collection was donated to the Walter P. Reuther by Mike Kerwin between 2016 and 2019.

Related Materials

UAW Education Department (LR000043); UAW Local 174 Records (LR000006)

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Shae Rafferty and Elizabeth Nicholson on June 7, 2021.
Title
Guide to the Michael W. Kerwin Papers
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Shae Rafferty and Elizabeth Nicholson.
Date
2021-06-07
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA