Wayne State University’s Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs, was recently awarded a grant totaling $109,152 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to facilitate the discovery and promotion of 1,660 oral histories of individuals directly involved in the labor, civil rights and social justice movements, among other important historical developments.
By employing updated access methods, the NHPRC grant project will allow Reuther archivists to work on descriptions that will make the oral histories easier to discover by researchers. Donated to the Reuther or conducted by staff members over the last 40 years, these stories bring a deeper understanding of the lives and work of such prominent national figures as Grace Lee Boggs and Cesar Chavez and organizations like the NAACP and the UAW. Perhaps more importantly, the oral histories also give voice to the unknown rank-and-file workers, immigrants, pioneering professional women and minority urban dwellers, providing new perspectives on the American experience.
“This grant will allow scholars to easily locate oral histories of labor leaders and individuals who tell their own stories in their own ways, bringing a new understanding of their lives and work,” said Sandra Yee, dean of the Wayne State University Libraries. “Making these oral histories more accessible will be a huge benefit to researchers.”
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission supports projects to facilitate the use of historical records held by archives and other repositories and to assure their long-term preservation. The Archivist of the United States is the Chairman of the fifteen-member Commission, which includes representatives from all three branches of the federal government as well as the leading archival and historical professional associations. Established in 1934 with the National Archives, the NHPRC has awarded nearly 5,000 grants for preserving, publishing and providing access to the nation’s historical documents.