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Jo Labadie and His Gift to Michigan

A Legacy for the Masses

Agnes Inglis (1870-1952)




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Special Collections Library
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

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Without the work and dedication of Agnes Inglis the Labadie Collection would probably not exist today. Born into a wealthy Detroit family, but tied to domestic responsibilities for most of her life, Inglis found herself freed from these duties in her late forties. She first visited the Labadie Collection in 1916 as an interested activist, and saw that the University had done very little with Labadie's initial collection received four years earlier. In 1924, she began to volunteer her time sorting and arranging the material in the collection.

Being an anarchist herself, Agnes Inglis had been involved in radical political activities, organizing lectures, rallying support for labor and civil liberties causes, and assisting and even putting up bail money for World War I draft law violators and political prisoners. Although not a trained librarian, she had a good sense of the subject matter, and knowledge of the people and events and movements that made up those times. Her work brought the Labadie Collection to the forefront of "labor" libraries, and during her tenure she increased its size dramatically.




"[The Labadie Collection] is pretty well assured a place for all Time."

Agnes Inglis to Jo Labadie, May 10, 1931



"Sometimes people say, 'was it worth it?' I suppose we each of us has to answer that for ourselves. If enthusiasm is 'worth it' and comradeship, and love of the ideal, why yes. It's worth it. What would you have chosen in its place? What would Judson have chosen in its place? Nothing equal to it in giving satisfaction and enriching life!"

Agnes Inglis to Jo Labadie, May 3, 1929



"I get absorbed in that collection!"

Agnes Inglis to Jo Labadie, undated