Skip to main content

Max M. Fisher Papers

Identifier: UP002350

Scope and Content

The Max M. Fisher papers document Fisher’s life and career, primarily focused on his leadership roles in the organized Jewish community of the U.S. and Israel, his activities in the Republican Party, his role as an advisor to several U.S. presidents, and his business activities. The collection includes correspondence, documents, speeches, interviews, photographs and other media, and documents from his biographer. The papers reflect his wide-ranging activities in the oil and real estate businesses, as well as his affiliations and leadership in civic activities in the Detroit area. Fisher corresponded with many leaders in politics, government, business, academia and the Jewish community, locally, nationally and internationally, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Dick Cheney, from Teddy Kollek to Benjamin Netanyahu, and George Romney to George Shultz, as well as many presidents and prime ministers.

Series 1: Personal/Family, 1908-2006. Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-2005, Series 3: Jewish Issues and Organizations, 1950-2005, Subseries A: Jewish Agency for Israel, 1960-2002; Subseries B: United Jewish Appeal, 1950-1999, Series 4: Politics and Public Service, 1951-2005, Series 5: Civic Organizations and Projects, 1952-2005, Subseries A: Detroit Renaissance, 1969-2004, Series 6: Business and Investments, 1932-2005, Subseries A: Oil and Energy, 1932-1991; Subseries B: Calendars and Itineraries, 1960-2005, Series 7: Biography Materials, Scrapbooks, Speeches, 1964-1997, Series 8: Audiovisual Materials, 1910-2004. Subseries A: Photographs - Family Subseries B: Photographs - Individuals Subseries C: Organizations, Places, and Events Subseries D: Oversize Photographs and Scrapbooks Subseries E: Media Transferred to the Audiovisual Department


  • 1920 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 2000


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.


185 Linear Feet (305 MB, 20 OS, 29 reels)


Max M. Fisher (1908-2005) was a successful Detroit industrialist and investor, influential Republican Party fundraiser and power broker, Jewish community leader, and major philanthropist. He was "arguably the most influential and respected Jew in America" in the twentieth century. Fisher's business career began with the Aurora Gasoline Company, and included Marathon Oil and several other oil companies, as well as Manufacturer's National Bank, Comerica Inc., Michigan Bell Telephone Co., Owens-Illinois Inc., United Brands Company, Sotheby's Holdings, the Irvine Company. Fisher served as the leader of most of the major Jewish community organizations in the United States. He chaired the Board of Directors of the Jewish Agency for Israel for many years and was a prime actor in Israel's economic development. Fisher's expertise on Middle East affairs and Jewish issues made him a key advisor to the Republican Party and to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Fisher's civic engagement with the Detroit area is legendary. Working closely with Henry Ford II and other city leaders, he was founding chair of the board of directors of Detroit Renaissance and a founding member and chair of New Detroit Inc., among other important organizations. His legacy includes the Max M. Fisher Music Center at Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall and the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. During his lifetime, Fisher received a wide range of awards and honors from local, state, national and international organizations, particularly for his extraordinary philanthropy.


Arranged in eight series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-19), Series 2 (Boxes 20-152), Series 3 (Boxes 153-213), Series 4 (Boxes 214-227), Series 5 (Boxes 228-248), Series 6 (Boxes 249-277), Series 7 (Boxes 278-290, and 304-305), and Series 8 (Boxes 291-303 and 306-350).

Folders are listed by their location within each box. Series 2: Correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order. Series 3: Jewish Issues and Organizations is further divided into two subseries. Series 5: Civic Organizations and Issues is further divided into one subseries. Series 6: Business and Investments is further divided into two subseries. Series 8: Audiovisual Materials is further divided into five subseries.


This collection was deposited at the Reuther Library by the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation in August 2012.

Related Materials

New Detroit, Inc. Records; Detroit Renaissance Records. Collections in the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives, particularly the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Records, Benyas Photographic Negatives and Robert Aronson Papers. Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, Inc., Records. Damon J. Keith Papers. Stanley Winkelman Papers. Mel Ravitz Papers. Wayne State University Archives, including Presidents’ Collections: David Adamany, Thomas N. Bonner, George E. Gullen, Irvin Reid.


Audiovisual materials including photographs (boxes 291-308), videotapes (boxes 311-315), audiocassettes (boxes 316-319), CD and DVDS (boxes 319-320), minicassettes (box 321), a vinyl record (box 322), and audio reels (boxes 322-350) have been transferred to the Reuther’s Audiovisual Department. Two boxes (boxes 309 and 310) of signed letters from U.S. presidents, Israeli prime ministers, and other prominent people have been moved to the Reuther Library vault.

Photocopies of these materials are in the collection.

Two oversize boxes of photographs signed by various U.S. presidents have been moved to the Reuther Library vault.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Aimee Ergas on May 5, 2015.
Guide to the Max M. Fisher Papers
Processed by Aimee Ergas.
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