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Joe L. Norris Papers

Identifier: WSP000021

Scope and Content

The collection primarily consists of Dr. Norris’s research notes, historical papers, and student papers. This collection contains the early research of Wayne State’s Athletic Association, as well as many faculty memos and drafts of newsletters and publications associated with Wayne State. Dr. Norris authored two books: As Others See Chicago and Forty Six Years, The Published Writings of Milo M. Quaife, as well as the Classified Finding List of the Collections of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society and Detroit History Booklets, a series of booklets on Detroit history.

In addition, the collection includes pamphlets and political ephemera from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Socialist Party, and the Progressive Party largely from the 1920s to the 1940s. Dr. Norris saved political pamphlets and flyers passed out on Wayne State University’s campus during his time at Wayne State. He also collected a variety of political and cultural materials associated with Detroit including materials from the Detroit Public Schools, the Detroit Library Commission, Detroit political campaigns, Detroit tourism promotional materials, and theater and musical productions within Detroit. Dr. Norris saved political materials from the University of Chicago, including flyers for political student groups and student strikes. This collection also contains a sizeable amount of political leaflets, pamphlets, and flyers from Indiana (his birthplace), primarily from Marion County. Included in this is the Kourier, a Ku Klux Klan publication, as well as materials from various political groups within Marion County. Finally, this collection contains a small number of action adventure books from the early 1900s.

Series 1: WSU Faculty Files, Series 2: Political Materials - Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, National, Series 3: Research, Student Papers, Class Notes.


  • 1792 - 1958
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1952


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.


10.5 Linear Feet (9 SB, 1 MB, 1 OS)


Dr. Joe L. Norris began as a professor at Wayne State University in the Department of History in 1938. Prior to his appointment at Wayne State, Norris received his BA from Northwestern in 1928, his MA from Harvard in 1931, and his Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1938. Dr. Norris worked as a research assistant at the Library of Congress from 1930 to 1931 and served in the Air Force from 1943 to 1946. During his tenure at Wayne State University, Dr. Norris was the Editor in Chief of the Wayne State University Press from 1951 to 1954, the founder and editor of the Detroit Council of Local History newsletter, an active member of the Michigan Historical Society, the American Historical Association, the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, the Detroit Historical Society and a member of Wayne State’s Athletic Association. Dr. Norris was also a chairman of the Michigan Bibliography Committee in 1949 and a historical consultant for Wayne State University Broadcasting, the Portrait of Anthony Wayne by F. Clever Bald, and Leslie Hanawalt’s A Place of Light: The History of Wayne State University.


The collection is arranged into 3 series - Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 1-4), and Series 3 (Boxes 4-11). Folders in each series are listed by their location within each box. They are not arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series.


Donated to the University Archives in 1958.

Related Materials

Refer to Wayne State University collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Meghan McGowan on October 10, 2014.
Guide to the Joe L. Norris Papers
Processed by Meghan McGowan.
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