Open the Prison Doors: Highlights from the Joseph A. Labadie Collection

Event Information

April 17th through June 28th
Next Opening
June 4th from 8:30am to 6:00pm
Hatcher Graduate Library, Audubon Room
Location Information
Event Type

This exhibit examines the political reasons for which people are imprisoned: for speaking, for writing, for sitting, for walking, for stealing from the rich, for refusing to murder, for not being citizens, for whistleblowing, for attempting to overthrow the government, and for talking about attempting to overthrow the government.

The histories of many groups and individuals occupying the shelves of the Joseph A. Labadie Collection have one thing in common: struggling to make a better world. In the process, many of them have been arrested, brutalized, censored, deported, imprisoned or executed. Some were innocent victims of violent police or discriminatory policies and later became martyrs or heroes. Friends and allies came to their aid to secure their release or seek a fair outcome, creating new movements of those seeking justice, and producing the documentation of their efforts. The Labadie Collection is filled with such causes.

Prisons and Prisoners combined make up one of the Labadie Collection's strongest collecting areas, with materials relating to prison abolition, prisoner support, and political prisoners, permeating every aspect of the archive, from Anarchism to Civil Liberties to Communism, Ecology, Pacifism, Socialism, and Youth and Student Protest.

The items selected for this exhibit represent a tiny fraction of our rich holdings on the subject; there are thousands of pamphlets, posters, flyers, leaflets, letters, newsletters, and buttons. They focus on maintaining one's humanity behind bars, promoting political causes, and offering ways to support prisoners.

The U-M Library’s Joseph A. Labadie Collection documents the history of social protest movements and marginalized political communities from the 19th century to the present. It is the oldest and largest public archive of its kind in the world.

Additional Infomation

Library Contact
Julie A Herrada
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Last modified: 03/10/2020