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Catherine Gelles Papers

Identifier: LP001253
The papers of Mrs. 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 I, 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 II, Conference Material, 1937-1967: Minutes, proceedings and programs covering district and local conventions International Conventions and National Conferences.

Series III, 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 Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


4.5 Linear Feet (4 MB, 4 OS)


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


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 where she 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 3 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 (1939-47), 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. Ms. Gelles died on October 6, 1985.


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

Material arranged alphabetically.


The papers of Catherine "Babe" Gelles were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in December of 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

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA