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JCA: Leonard N. Simons Papers

Identifier: UP001518

Scope and Content

Simons's papers reflect his work in the secular and Jewish communities as well as his professional involvement as an entrepreneur.

Important subjects and correspondents: Adamany, David. Adcraft. Bentwick, Norman. Broomfield, William. Caron, Malcolm, S.J. Cavanagh, Jerome. Dearborn Independent newspaper. Detroit Jewish history. Feuchtwanger, Lion. Fisher, Max M. Giscard d’Estaing, Valéry. Glueck, Nelson. Golden, Harry. Gribbs, Roman. Harmon, Avraham. Hart, Philip A. Henry, David. Jewish National Fund. Jewish Welfare Federation, Detroit. Kresge, Stanley. Levin, Carl. Marcus, Jacob. Marx, Karl. Mendes-­‐France, Pierre. Miriani, Louis. Purple Gang. Roosevelt, Eleanor. Royet, Jacques. Sapiro, Aaron. Silver, Rabbi Abba Hillel. Slomovitz, Philip. Temple Beth El, Detroit and Bloomfield Hills. Young, Coleman A. Yutang, Lin. Wayne State University. Williams, G. Mennen.

Series Description: Series 1. Personal Life, 1910-1993: Correspondence, clippings, greeting cards, speeches and newsletters. Materials from his presidency of the Franklin Hills Country Club and regarding his book, Simons Says, are located here. Travel notes, itineraries and correspondence.

Series 2. Business and professional activities, 1929-1991: Professional activities and interactions with organizations of a business nature. Papers contain clippings, correspondence, speeches, appraisals, telegrams and greeting cards, including materials from Adcraft/Simons-Michelson, Wayne University professorship and the Simons-Michelson collection of Judaica.

Series 3. Community activities in Detroit, 1930-1993: Papers contain clippings, correspondence, speeches, research materials, notes, newsletters, invitations, certificates, programs, greeting cards, and telegrams. Areas of interest: American Legion Award, Cadillac House, Detroit Historical Commission, Museum, and Society, French medal, Heart of Gold Award, University Chair in Jewish Studies, Wayne State University Press, Leonard N. Simons Building and reading room on Wayne State University campus, Honorary Degrees.

Series 4. Jewish community activities and causes, 1940s-1993: Documents regarding Simons’s involvement in the Jewish community and his activities on behalf of Jewish causes: clippings, correspondence, articles, notes, speeches, pamphlets, certificates, bookplates. Of special note: the Feuchtwanger correspondence, Goldman Automobile Company, Israeli Bond and Jewish National Fund, Hebrew University, Man of the Year citation and Butzel Award. Also contains some historical materials of the Jewish community dating back to the 19th century.

Series 5. Photographs, 1929-1995: Contains photos of many public and personal events including wedding, birthday and anniversary parties, award presentations, travel, and various community charitable and political events, including Wayne State University, Central High School, Detroit Historical Museum, Jewish Historical Society, March of Dimes and War Bonds.

Series 6. Scrapbooks, awards and memorabilia, 1947-1986: Scrapbooks, photograph albums, memory books, testimonials from Simons’s career, personal life, service to the Detroit metropolitan community and to Jewish causes. There are also some folders of documents and correspondence.


  • 1872 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1949 - 1986

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.


Leonard Norman Rashall Simons was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 24, 1904, the son of William Rashall and Minna Williams Rashall (later Simons). He married Harriette Lieberman in 1930, and they had two daughters, Susan Simons and Mary Lou Simons (Zieve). He attended Central High School in Detroit. Simons spent his career as an advertising executive, including serving as vice-president of the Simons Michelson Zieve Advertising Agency in Troy, Michigan, from 1977 to 1995. He was a partner in the investment company Simons-Michelson Company, also in Troy, Michigan, from 1929-1977. Simons served as advertising director for the U.S. Treasury War Bonds during World War II.

Simons led and served on the boards of many organizations, including Temple Beth El in Detroit/Bloomfield Hills; Wayne State University Press; Michigan Cancer Foundation; Detroit Historical Commission; United Negro College Fund, Michigan; Sinai Hospital of Detroit; and the Greater Detroit Interfaith Round Table of Christians and Jews. Simons was an active fundraiser for many causes both secular and religious, ranging from educational to medical to social service. During his lifetime, Simons received many awards, among them the Prime Minister’s Medal from the State of Israel, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Butzel Award, and the United Community Foundation Heart of Gold Award. He was decorated as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre Nationale du Merite by the French government. The building housing the Wayne State University Press in Detroit is named in Simons’s honor.

Simons maintained an active focus on his family life and his friendships. He was an avid traveler, which is reflected in his vast correspondence and a serious collector of rare books. His collection of rare Michigan history books is now part of the Special Collections in the Wayne State University Library System. Simons died on November 16, 1995.


15.5 Linear Feet (2SB, 17MB, 5 OS)


Leonard N. Simons (1904-1995) was a business man active in the Detroit secular and Jewish communities. His papers reflect his work with many civic and charitable organizations such Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Sinai Hospital of Detroit, the Detroit Historical Commission and the Detroit Historical Society. The papers also show his personal interests, such as travel and book collecting.


Arranged in 6 series: Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes 3-4), Series 3 (Boxes 4-7), Series 4 (Boxes 8-14), Series 5 (Boxes 15-17), and Series 6 (Boxes 18- 24). Folders are arranged alphabetically in Series 1-4, with documents placed in chronological order. Photographs in Series 5 are arranged alphabetically by subject.


Acquired from Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives in 1993.

Related Materials

Jewish Community Archives at the Reuther Library, particularly the papers of Robert Aronson and Philip Slomovitz, and Sinai Hospital Records. Other collections: Max M. Fisher Papers, Coleman A. Young Papers, Wayne State University Archives.

Processing History

Processed by Jewish Community Archives. Original finding aid written by Jewish Community Archives, revised by Aimee Ergas on December 7, 2015.
Guide to the JCA: Leonard N. Simons Papers
Original finding aid by Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives.
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