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Catherine Gelles Papers

Identifier: LP001253

Scope and Content

The papers of Catherine Gelles reflect her work with the UAW Women's Auxiliaries and, to a lesser degree, her involvement in community activities and some aspects of her personal life.

Series Description: Series 1, General Files, 1937-1981. Correspondence, minutes, reports, speeches and other materials relating to the activities of the UAW Women's Auxiliaries. Some files relate to the organizing of the Ford Rouge Plant.

Series 2, Conference Material, 1937-1967. Minutes, proceedings and programs covering district and local conventions International Conventions and National Conferences.

Series 3, Oversize Material, 1937-1970. Clippings, scrapbooks and other material recording important events in the history of the UAW Women's Auxiliaries.


  • 1937 - 1981
  • Majority of material found within 1937 - 1971


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


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


Catherine Gelles was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on December 25, 1907. Her family moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1913, where she attended high school and business college. She came to Detroit in 1926 and went to work at Bohn Aluminum. After her marriage to co-worker Albert Gelles, she left Bohn and became a charter member of Women's Auxiliary 15, serving as president for three years. She left Auxiliary 15 to go to her husband's local, forming an auxiliary and serving as its first president. She was secretary-treasurer of the UAW Auxiliaries (1939-1947), vice-president of the CIO National Auxiliaries (1939-1949) and, in 1949, became a full-time international representative with the UAW Women's Auxiliaries Department under the direction of Emil Mazey. Upon her retirement in 1971, the UAW Women's Auxiliaries were transferred to the Women's Department of the UAW. Gelles died on October 6, 1985.


4.5 Linear Feet (4 MB, 4 OS)


A charter member and president of Women's Auxiliary 15, Catherine "Babe" Gelles (1907-1985) served as secretary-treasurer and, later, an international representative of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Women's Auxiliaries. She also served as vice-president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) National Auxiliaries. Gelles's papers reflect her work in the labor movement and the history of UAW women's auxiliaries.


Arranged in 3 series. Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 3-4), Series 3 (Boxes 5-8). Material arranged alphabetically.


The papers of Catherine "Babe" Gelles were placed in the Reuther Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in December 1985 by Mr. Gelles.


Numerous photographs relating to strike activity and UAW Women's Auxiliaries and some 3D items have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. Several volumes of UAW Women's Auxiliary newsletters and other publications received with this collection are available in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in November 1988.
Guide to the Catherine Gelles Papers
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