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Toni Swanger Papers

Identifier: UP001777

Scope and Content

The Toni Swanger Collection consists primarily of audio tapes, scripts, tear sheets, drafts, notes and interviews for her radio commentaries and Metro Times articles and newspaper clippings, magazine articles, correspondence, advocacy group literature and other material related to her research, writing and speaking about women's issues.


  • 1951-2000
  • Majority of material found within 1970s-1994


Language of Materials

Material is entirely in English


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


Antoinette (Toni) Bilicki Swanger was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 29, 1944. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and Detroit, the daughter of a tool and die maker in the auto industry and a homemaker. Foreshadowing a career in the media, she participated in the speech and theater programs at Cody High School, graduating in 1961. After obtaining an associate's degree from Henry Ford Community College, she took a secretarial job at Ford Motor Company. In 1965 she married William Swanger. Their separation in 1976 forced her into the role of family breadwinner and single parent to their daughter Sasha, home-birthed that year, and profoundly affected all her future reporting on issues related to marriage and motherhood. The couple divorced in 1984.

In the early 1970's Ms. Swanger returned to school, enrolling in Wayne County Community College, and did freelance secretarial work for Control, Conflict and Change, the Urban Bishops Coalition and other political and religious groups. A paper she wrote on Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker for a women's studies course at WCCC got her her first spot (in December of 1974) on Detroit's public radio station, WDET-FM's "All Together Now," a feminist radio program written, produced and engineered by the volunteer members of the Detroit Women's Radio Workshop. Programming changes introduced in 1983 saw the program's cancellation and its replacement with a weekly five-minute Workshop-produced commentary delivered by Ms. Swanger. She resigned from the station in 1993 in protest over further programming changes.

Ms. Swanger's secretarial skills and political activism brought her to the attention of the founders of Detroit's alternative newspaper, Metro Times, when they needed an office manager in 1980. She turned the offer down, opting instead for jobs as typesetter, production manager and managing editor. She retired as a full-time staff member in 1989, but continued to write occasional news and feature stories as well as a regular column, which ran from 1990 to 1994.

Toni Swanger remains a Metro Times contributing editor and lives in Detroit with her husband, former Metro Times cartoonist John McCormick, whom she married in 1989.


9 Linear Feet (9 SBs)


An active member of the Detroit women's rights movement, journalist Toni Swanger worked with the Detroit Women's Radio Workshop on programming for the Detroit public radio station WDET, and served in various roles for Detroit newspaper, Metro Times, including production manager and managing editor. Ms. Swanger's papers reflect her interest in women's issues and document her career as an activist and radio and print journalist.

Arrangement of the Records

9 storage boxes

Series I, Personal Files, 1950's-1994, Boxes 1 and 9 (oversize):

Correspondence, minutes, mailing lists, flyers, publications, programs, speeches and other material related to Ms. Swanger's organizational affiliations, awards and speaking engagements.

Series II, WDET and Metro Times, 1971-1998, Boxes 1-4:

Transcripts of Swanger-produced radio shows and commentaries for WDET and copies of her articles and columns for Metro Times. Related correspondence, early drafts and rewrites, notes, interviews and some research material are included, although most of her research files may be found in Series III. Files are arranged alphabetically, with WDET-related material preceding Metro Times files.

Series III, Subject Reference Files, 1965-1994, Boxes 4-8:

Files on a wide variety of issues of concern to women used by Ms. Swanger in research for her radio commentaries and Metro Times articles. Files contain magazine articles and newspaper clippings, advocacy group newsletters, brochures, mass mailings, flyers and press releases, reports and academic papers.


The papers of Toni Swanger were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs by Ms. Swanger in May of 2002.

Related Material

American Association of University Women of Michigan Records

Coalition of Labor Union Women Records

Detroit Feminist Women's Health Center Records

Detroit Revolutionary Movements Records

Detroit Women's Press Records

Joyce Hennessee Papers

Susan Holleran Papers

Joan Israel Papers

Mildred Jeffrey Papers

Olga Madar Papers

Loretta Moore Papers

NOW Downriver Chapter Records

Ann Shafer Papers

UAW Women's Department Records

UAW Women's Department: Dorothy Haener Records

Edith Van Horn Papers


Audio tapes of several "All Together Now" programs as well as Ms. Swanger's radio commentaries and two posters have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. A few books have been transferred to the Archives Library.

Processing History

Finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library. 2002-12
Guide to the Toni Swanger Papers
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