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W. Ellison Chalmers Papers

Identifier: LP000166

Scope and Content

Important subjects in the collection:

Auto study, 1933-1935 Worker education in the 1930's Public vs. private ownership of utilities in Wisconsin AFL in the auto industry Auto Labor Board

Important correspondents in the collection:

Leonard Bright John R. Commons Francis Dillon Robert W. Dunn Senator Paul Douglas William Green Sidney Hillman A. J. Muste Selig Perlman Frances Perkins Norman Thomas

Series Description Series I, Auto Industry, 1930-1935, Boxes 1-2: Includes AFL correspondence, press releases and reports; U.S. Auto Labor Board Code correspondence and reports; and miscellaneous reports relating to the auto industry. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, Correspondence, 1925-1938, Box 3 Series III, Workers Education and Class Notes, 1926-1933, Box 4: Includes material from Bryn Mawr Summer School (1933); Pittsburgh Labor College (1928-29); University of Wisconsin Summer School (1931); YMCA Industrial Conference (1932) and notes from Commons, Kiekhoffer and Slichter as well as reports relating to the labor movement.

Series IV, Wisconsin State Government, 1930-1931, Boxes 5-6: Series V, Reports and Miscellaneous, 1929-1935, Boxes 6-7: Materials relating to labor-management relations, the ILO and the University ofWisconsin. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series VI, Collective Bargaining in the Automobile Industry, Box 8: Selected chapters from Chalmers' manuscript.


  • 1925 - 1938


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.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, February 21, 1903, William Ellison Chalmers received a B.A. from Brown University in 1925 and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1933. While studying at the University of Wisconsin, he worked with John R. Commons lobbying for various bills in the state Legislature. Chalmers taught briefly at the University of Pittsburgh (1928-30). He received a Social Science Research Fellowship in 1933 and a Wertheim Fellowship the following year. While on the Wertheim Fellowship, he began writing his auto study manuscript and worked closely with the AFL in Detroit. Chalmers worked for the federal government from 1934 to 1947, serving as a delegate to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1935, after which he became a professor of economics at the University of Illinois.


3.75 Linear Feet (8 MB)


W. Ellison Clamers worked for the federal gevernment from 1934-1947, serving as a delegate to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1935, after which he became a professor of economics at the University of Illinois. The Chalmers Papers reflect the early history of the auto unions through correspondence, press releases, and reports pertaining to the AFL's efforts to organize the auto industry in the early 1930s. Also included: materials pertaining to workers' education, including the Bryn Mawr and the University of Wisconsin summer schools, and the Pittsburgh Labor College; and class notes Chalmers took while studying for his Ph.D. with Professor John R. Commons and other labor economists at the University of Wisconsin. Correspondents include John R. Commons, Francis Dillon, Paul Douglas, William Green, Sidney Hillman, John L. Lewis, Francis Perkins, and Norman Thomas.


Arranged in 6 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Box 3), Series 3 (Box 4), Series 4 (Boxes 5-6), Series 5 (Boxes 6-7), and Series 6 (Box 8). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


[Acquisition Information]

Other Copies

Microfilm of Chalmers' manuscript is available in the Littauer Library, Harvard University.

Processing History

The papers of W. Ellison Chalmers were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in June of 1965 by Mr. Chalmers. Additional papers were deposited in August of 1983.
Guide to the W. Ellison Chalmers Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
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