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Joseph Basso Papers

Identifier: LP000368

Scope and Content

Important subjects covered in this collection are: AFL - Wayne County AFL merger with CIO Democratic Party politics International relations and peace Labor education Labor political action Judge George Murphy

Important correspondents are: Al Barbour Frank X. Martel George Murphy John F. Williams

Series Description: Series I, Frank Murphy, 1935-1963: Correspondence, clippings, and other materials concerning Frank Murphy relating mainly to memorials in his honor.

Series II, George Murphy, 1935-1961: Correspondence, clippings, and other material relating to George Murphy and for the most part delaing with his campaigns for election to Recorder's Court in Detroit.

Series III, Recorder's Court, 1927-1962: Correspondence, reports, court records, procedural manuals, and other items pertaining to Detroit Recorder's Court.

Sub-Series III-A, Michigan Constitutional Convention, 1961-1962: Pamphlets, clippings, and other materials relating to judicial matters affected by constitutional reform.

Series IV, Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor, 1936-1958: Correspondence, minutes, reports, and other materials relating to the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor. Much of this series concerns the negotiations which preceded the merger with the Wayne County CIO Council in 1958. Sub-Series IV-A, Postwar Period: Publications, correspondence, and other materials relating to concerns of the post-World War II period much of it dealing with foreign affairs.

Series V, Wayne County AFL-CIO Executive Board, 1958-1965: Minutes and meeting announcements of the Executive Board many of which are annotated.

Series VI, Wayne County AFL-CIO Conventions, 1958-1965: Minutes and convention materials from the Wayne County AFL-CIO conventions during this period.

Series VII, Wayne County AFL-CIO - General, 1959-1966: Correspondence, notes, and other materials relating to the Wayne County AFL-CIO. Much of this concerns the work of the Education Committee and COPE.

Series VIII, AFL-CIO, 1959-1966: Convention materials, and other papers relating to the AFL-CIO.

Series IX, Michigan Federation of Labor and Michigan State AFL-CIO, 1956-1963: Correspondence, reports, and other items relating for the most part to the merger of the Michigan Federation of Labor with the CIO.

Series X, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1927-1964: Correspondence, notes, and other items relating mainly to Local Union No. 58 in Detroit.

Series XI, General Files, 1941-1968;: Correspondence, reports, and other materials. Much of this series is devoted to politics and to civil defense.


  • 1927 - 1968
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1967


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.


Joseph Basso was born in 1899 and came to Detroit in 1912. He joined the Detroit Federation of Labor in 1920 and was elected a trustee, an office which he held for twelve years. In 1920 he accepted an appointment as clerk to Judge James Jeffries of Detroit Recorder's Court. There he founded the City and County Public Service Employees Association which affiliated with the Detroit Federation of Labor and later became the Public Employees Union. He continued in the position of court clerk under Judges George Murphy and Arthur J. Koscinski until his retirement in 1964.

Basso was active in Democratic politics and conducted Frank Murphy's campaign for mayor of Detroit and also managed his brother, George Murphy's campaigns for judge of Recorder's Court.

Basso became secretary of the Wayne County Federation of Labor in 1932 and continued in that office until 1950. He was reelected in 1955 and held office until the merger of the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor with the Wayne County CIO Council in 1958. He served until 1964 on the executive board of the Wayne County AFL-CIO (since 1969 the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO). He was also on the Education Committee and the Committee on Political Education (COPE).

He was also a member of Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and was secretary treasurer of the Electrical Workers Holding Company. He served as secretary treasurer of the Federation of Labor Temple Company for twenty-five years and as the secretary treasurer of the Federation of Labor Fresh Air Camp, Inc.

Basso was active in community affairs. During World War II he served for four years on the War Rationing Board, was a labor speaker on drives for war bonds, the Red Cross, and the Community Fund, and was a senior air raid warden. After the war he was a platoon leader in the Emergency Police Reserves, a civil defense organization.


6.5 Linear Feet (13 MB)


A member of the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor, and later the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Joseph Basso founded the City and County Public Service Employees Association, which later became the Public Employees Union. Active in community affairs and Democratic politics, Mr. Basso conducted campaigns for Frank Murphy and George Murphy, and also worked in civil defense during World Ward II. His papers reflect his involvement in the careers of Frank and George Murphy, his interest in post WW II foreign affairs, and his work as a member of Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor and the AFL-CIO.


Arranged in 11 series – Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 1-2), Series 3 (Boxes 2-4), Series 3 (Boxes 2-4), Series 4 (Boxes 4-5), Series 5 (Boxes 6-8), Series 6 (Box 8), Series 7 (Boxes 8-11), Series 8 (Box 11), Series 9 (Box 12), Series 10 (Box 12), and Series 11 (Boxes 12-13) . Folders in series 1-4, and 7-11 are arranged alphabetically, and folders in series 5-6 are arranged chronologically.

Series 3 and 4 are both subdivided into an additional subseries.


The papers of Joseph Basso were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1969 and were opened for research in February of 1981.


A number of photographs of the Murphys, Patrick McNamara, and the leadership of the City and County Public Service Employees Association, the Detroit Federation of Labor, and the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor have been placed in the Archives Audio Visual Collections. A large quantity of labor newspapers including the Building Tradesman, labor pamphlets, and convention proceedings have been transferred to the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in February 1981.
Guide to the Joseph Basso 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