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Brendan Sexton Papers

Identifier: LP001046
Important subjects covered in the collection are: Black Lake Family Education Center "Eye Opener" Radio program, 1955-1960 Labor Education theory UAW Leadership Studies Center

Among the important correspondents are: Cesar Chavez Dr. John A. Childs Congressman John D. Dingall Judah Drob Senator Paul Douglas James T. Farrell Irving Howe Lane Kirkland Emil Mazey Jack Rubenstein Norman Thomas W. Paul Tippet Esteban Torres Leonard Woodcock
Part I: Series I, UAW Education Department, 1955-1972, Boxes 1-3: Correspondence, radio scripts and other materials relating to UAW Education Department.
Part II: Series II, Correspondence, 1938-1988, Boxes 4-5: Personal and business correspondence spanning Mr. Sexton's entire career. Also, sympathy cards and letters received by his wife after his death.

Series III, General Office Files, Boxes 5-11: Articles, speeches and notes written by Sexton. Clippings and material from committees served on as Reuther representative .

Series IV, UAW Education Department, Boxes 11-14: Teaching materials produced by the department, background materials, and Black Lake operation.

Series V, University Classes, Boxes 15-17: Sexton's lecture notes, teaching materials, student papers, and transcripts of guest speakers' remarks.


  • 1938 - 1988


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.


8.5 Linear Feet (17 MB)


Brendan Sexton held various offices in key labor organizations, including positions such as president of the New York Workers Alliance, National Secretary of the Workers Defense League, and Regional Director of United Steelworkers of America (USWA), and United Auto Workers (UAW) Director of Education. Mr. Sexton served as a faculty member and advisor on labor education to numerous academic institutions, among them, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Harvard, Princeton and Cornell. Mr. Sexton’s papers document his prolific career in the labor movement and the academic community, particularly relating to the UAW Education Department and his research in labor history and labor education.


Brendan Sexton was born in New York, on June 9, 1911. He held various positions with key labor organizations. Some of the offices that he held before joining the UAW were: President of the New York Workers Alliance, Vice President of the Workers Alliance of America and National Secretary of the Workers Defense League. He was also a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In 1941, Sexton joined UAW Local 50, Ford Willow Run, after four years as Regional Director and International representative of the United Steelworkers of America. He had become President of his local in 1947, when he was named to the first of a series of posts with the International Union. From 1949 to 1960 he was the Director of Education of the UAW. In 1960, he was appointed coordinator of organization for the UAW. He then became director of the union staff training facility, the Leadership Studies Center. In 1968, he was appointed Director of UAW Educational Activities, which included the Family Education Center at Black Lake as well as the Leadership Studies Center. In addition to labor union activities, Mr. Sexton taught or lectured on labor studies at Harvard, Princeton, the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Cornell, Rutgers, and the University of California. He served on advisory committees on Workers Education at Cornell, Michigan State University, Roosevelt University, University of Chicago, and Wayne State University. At New York University, he taught a special course with his wife, Dr. Patricia Cayo Sexton. He served as an American delegate to UNESCO's Consultative Committee on Adult Education, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Labor Education. He took leave of his UAW work several times to direct training programs for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, and for the UAW-backed Citizens Crusade Against Poverty. He retired from the UAW in 1971, but continued and expanded his teaching activities. He died January 17, 1988 in New York. Throughout his career, Mr. Sexton wrote and spoke extensively on labor and union issues. He published frequently in magazines and journals and authored a book with his wife.


Part I: Arranged in 1 series – Series 1 (Box 1). Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.
Part II: Arranged in 4 series - Series 2 (Boxes 4-5), Series 3 (Boxes 5-11), Series 4 (Boxes 11-14), and Series 5 (Boxes 15-17). Files are arranged alphabetically.


The papers of Brendan Sexton were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in May of 1981 by Brendan Sexton and opened for research in August of 1983. Additional papers were placed in the Archives by his wife, Dr. Patricia Cayo Sexton in February of 1988 and opened for research in October of 1988.


Approximately 100 photographs relating to Brendan Sexton and various UAW functions and 25 transparencies of an art mural have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. Numerous labor magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets, Union publications and government documents, many with articles written by Brendan Sexton, along with two copies of Blue Collars & Hard Hats by Patricia Cayo Sexton and Brendan Sexton, New York: Random House, c.1971, received with this collection are available in the Archives Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in August, 1983 and revised in October, 1988.
Guide to the Brendan Sexton Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 1988-10: Additional materials were added to the collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA