Skip to main content

Wayne University Office of the President David D. Henry Records

Identifier: WSR000001H
The David D. Henry Collection reflects the extensive planning for the growth of Wayne as well as the administration of a complex university, largely in a war-time environment. It also includes Henry's articles and speeches from 1933 to 1959 and 1967.

Series Description: Series 1: Correspondence, reports and records relating to the office of the Assistant Executive Vice-President (1936-1939), the Executive Vice-President (1939-1945), and President (1945-1952) of Wayne University. The files pertain to the general activities and operation of the University for these years. In addition the files concern Henry's involvement in national education associations and local organizations.

Series 2: Correspondence, reports, records, pertaining to the University's involvement in national defense and the war effort from 1940-1944. The files also reflect the subsequent planning for the education of returning veterans from 1944 to 1952.

Series 3: David Henry's articles, speeches, and greetings to alumni, students, etc. for the period 1933 to 1959 and 1967 as well as several by other individuals.

1 Folder of oversize material: 1. Air Cargo Research, Polar Lobate Globoid Map of the World, 1943 2. The Detroit Round Table, Certificate, 1952 3. Medical Science Center, Map, November, 1943


  • 1933 - 1959
  • 1967
  • Majority of material found within 1939 - 1952



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 that might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


5.75 Linear Feet (13 MB, 1 OS)


David D. Henry accepted a position as Professor of English at Wayne in 1935. From 1936-1939, he served as Assistant Executive Vice-President and was appointed Executive Vice-President when Charles Spain retired from the position in 1939. In 1945, he was selected as President of Wayne University. As president he oversaw the physical and educational growth of Wayne. During his tenure, State, Science and Engineering halls were built, two libraries and a student center. Land was acquired to build the Medical Science Center, curriculums were expanded, new programs were initiated in Business Administration, Industrial Health, Industrial Physics, Medical Technology, and Occupational Therapy. Henry organized the Wayne foundation to seek and administer private financial gifts.


David Dodds Henry was President of Wayne University from 1945 to 1952. Prior to 1945 he was Assistant Executive Vice-President (1936-1939) and Executive Vice-President (1939-1945) of the University.

David D. Henry was born October 21, 1905 in East McKeesport, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in American Literature from Pennsylvania State College in 1931. His area of concentration was the modern American novel and he was a member of the faculty until 1929. At that time he was appointed Professor of English and subsequently Director of the School of Liberal Arts of Battle Creek College in Michigan. While at Battle Creek, Henry met Frank Cody, Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools, and began his long association with education in Detroit. After the depression forced the closure of Battle Creek College, Henry became Assistant State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan from 1933 to 1934 under Paul F. Voelker.

In 1935 David Henry accepted the position of Professor of English at the recently named Wayne University which was formerly the College of the City of Detroit. From 1936 to 1939 Henry served as Assistant Executive Vice-President and was appointed Executive Vice-President of Wayne University upon the retirement of Charles Spain in 1939. The title of President of the University was held by the Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools while the Executive Vice-President served as chief administrative officer for the University. Superintendent and President Warren G. Bow died in May of 1945. The roles of Superintendent and University President were then redefined as separate offices. David D. Henry, at 39 years old, was chosen President of Wayne University, one of the youngest university presidents.

World War II was a significant period in Henry's tenure as president and several programs were organized on campus to train military personal and civilians for war-related industry. With the Selective Service Act of 1940, counseling of male students and the continual clarification of policies from government and educational associations relating to prospective draftees was especially important. Though Wayne University provided a continual flow of trained men to the war effort, deferements were continually sought for irreplaceable faculty members or for students to permit them to complete their programs. The University's program for the war effort was largely organized through the University Committee of Higher Education and National Defense, succeeded by the Advisory Board on University War-Related Activities, the latter chaired by Counselor Victor F. Spathelf.

The period of Henry's presidency saw tremendous growth in Wayne University, physically and educationally as a respected University. Three new classroom buildings - State Hall, Science, and Engineering - were constructed; two libraries and a student center were were set up to accommodate the 15,000 increase in student enrollment. Acquisition of land and the planning for the Medical Science Center of Detroit increased Wayne's visibility as an important medical college. In addition to an expansion of previous curriculums, new programs were initiated in Business Admin-istration, Industrial Health, Industrial Physics, Medical Technology, and Occupa-tional Therapy. Expanded counseling services, several new programs and curriculums were also planned to meet the specific needs of veterans.

University growth and expansion was possible through the support that Henry actively sought and fostered with community and state leaders, businesses and organizations. Henry urged the use of the citizen's committee to plan for University expansion. David Henry was also a popular individual in state political circles and is credited with creating a strong relationship with the Michigan legislature, and thus paving the way for state appropriations to Wayne. To seek and handle private gifts of financial support, Henry organized the Wayne Foundation.

In addition to his University duties, Henry was active nationally and locally in education and service organizations. Henry served as Secretary-Treasurer and Ex-ecutive Vice-President of the Association of Urban Universities, chairman of Region VIII Housing Advisory Committee of the American Council on Education and on the National Commission for Accrediting. Locally he served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Citizenship Education Study, chairman of the Education Committee for Detroit's 250th Birthday Festival, chairman of the Detroit Committee for the United Negro College Fund Inc. and vice-chairman of the Building and Endowment Fund Committee of the Detroit Historical Society. Henry also served on the executive boards of the Detroit Inter-American Center, Economic Club, World Study Council, National Training School for Public Service, and the Councils of Veterans Affairs in Detroit and Wayne County. The mission of Wayne University, according to Henry, was to make the professional and research expertise of the University available to the City of Detroit and its citizens. His contributions to Wayne were significant in that his administration prepared much of the foundation for later development. Henry left Wayne to become Executive Vice-Chancellor of New York University (1952-1955), and then President of the University of Illinois in 1955.


Arranged in 3 series - Series 1 (Boxes 1-6), Series 2 (Boxes 7-10), Series 3 (Boxes 11-12) and 1 oversize folder. Series 1: Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject or source of the records. Within the subject file, the papers are in chronological order.

Series 2: The files of this series are in alphabetical order by subject and then chronologically within a subject file. One exception is in the Training Programs. The files of individual programs are in approximate chronological order, therefore the Engineering Defense program precedes the later Army Specialized Training Program.

Series 3: The folders in this series are arranged chronologically.


The David D. Henry Collection, relating to the tenure of Dr. Henry at Wayne University and including some of his publications after he left the University, was placed in the University Archives in 1958.


The following material has been placed in the Audio Visual Archives: Aerial photograph of Wayne University and surrounding area with buildings identifies; Photograph of Judge Ernest P. LaJoi, Dr. Edgar H. Norris, and Dr. Burt S. Shirley examining a model of the Medical Science Center; Film Strip of Dr. Warren E. Bow, Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Eye School Building Number 1.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Wayne University Office of the President David D. Henry Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA