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Joseph A. Labadie Collection
Hatcher Graduate Library
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
A collection documenting the history of social protest movements and marginalized political communities from the 19th century to the present
In the 1930s, the U-M Library’s Joseph A. Labadie Collection — the oldest publicly accessible archive of its kind in America — was called “probably the most complete record of the social unrest of our times that has ever been assembled."
Since then, the collection has only grown, expanding from its original focus on anarchism to also encompass antheism and free thought, anti-colonialist movements, anti-war and pacifist movements, civil liberties and civil rights, labor and workers' rights, LGBTQ movements, prisons and prisoners, New Left, Spanish Civil War, youth and student protest, and many more.
The collection is named for Detroit labor activist and anarchist Joseph Antoine Labadie (1850-1933), who in 1911 donated the books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, and memorabilia he had assembled over the years.
Today, the Labadie Collection is the most widely used of all of the library’s special collections and serves as a unique and important resource for students and researchers at U-M and around the world.
“This is a collection that documents history from below,” says curator Julie Herrada. “We are preserving, and making available to the public, the activities of under-represented groups, people whose ideas are considered marginal or dangerous.”
Labadie Collection materials have been used in numerous publications and exhibits. A single poster from the collection, for example, was recently sought out for inclusion in an art book, as well as displayed in exhibits at Cornell University and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia.
And new materials are being added to the collection all the time. “Not long ago we received a large donation of transgender rights research materials that greatly add to our existing strength in LGBT topics,” she adds.
Along with physical access to rare and unique archival materials, a host of materials are available digitally including scans of anarchist pamphlets, historic photographs,more than 1,000 political “pin-back” buttons and over 2,000 posters on topics we cover.
Because of the collection’s breadth and depth, several finding aids and guides to its holdings are available, including to many of the uncataloged manuscripts and letters.
"Melba Joyce Boyd, a well-known author and Wayne State University professor, says that an activist is a person with a certain level of consciousness who then incorporates that consciousness into what they do. So, I see my work as a curator as a kind of activism,” says Herrada, who has overseen the collection since 2000.
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Can a small group of students advocating for change really make things happen? One group of U-M students thinks so, and they hope to gather support for their cause by bringing Angela Davis to Ann Arbor for the 27th Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium.
Dr. Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann describes her project of cataloging Greek manuscripts in American Libraries and then focuses on the University of Michigan collection and the results of her research to date.
Graduate Student Discovers Arabic Manuscript in al-Maqrizi’s Own Hand
Noah Gardiner, a third-year graduate student in the [Near Eastern Studies] Department’s AAPTIS division, is a member of the team that is re-cataloguing and digitizing our Library’s splendid collection of Islamic manuscripts. (This three-year project, “Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan,” is funded with a grant from the Mellon Foundation, see http://www.lib.umich.edu/collaboration-cataloging-islamic-manuscripts-michigan and http://www.lib.umich.edu/islamic/ .)
Pamela Samuelson, Professor at Berkeley Law School and School of Information, came to the University of Michigan to discuss the Google Book Settlement and its implications for copyright reform. Professor Samuelson said that her talk “explains why certain dysfunctional aspects of U.S. copyright law contributed both to the Google Book Search project and to the settlement of the Authors Guild lawsuit, and why the proposed settlement would achieve some copyright reform, although at a cost that may not be worth paying.” See http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~pam/.