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Shelton Tappes Papers

Identifier: LP000220

Scope and Content

Important subjects in the collection: Afro-American automobile industry workers Afro-American labor leaders UAW Local 600 Production Foundry Unit UAW-Ford Motor Company strike, 1949 World War II and the UAW

Important correspondents in the collection: Robert P. Griffin


  • 1934 - 1989


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. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Shelton Tappes was born in Omaha, Nebraska on March 27, 1911 and came to Detroit in the late 1920s. A UAW member since 1937, Mr. Tappes was particularly active in the organization of the Production Foundry Unit at the Ford Rouge plant in 1941. He was a part-time organizer for the Foundry Unit, the first Foundry Unit chairman, and a member of the negotiating committee that secured the UAW's first contract with Ford Motor Company in 1941. He served as recording secretary of Local 600 from 1942 through 1944. Defeated for a fourth term, he later went to work on the staff of Ken Bannon, where he was recognized as a top authority on contract interpretation and grievance procedure. From 1954 until his retirement in 1976, Mr. Tappes served as an international representative for the UAW in the Ohio area. He was active throughout his life in a number of civil rights organizations and was one of the UAW's most vocal advocates for African-American representation on the UAW executive board. Mr. Tappes died in 1991.


1 Linear Feet (1 SB, 1 OS folder)


Miscellaneous materials collected by the first chairman of the Foundry Unit of UAW Ford Local 600, of the Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. Mr. Tappes was active in the drive to organize the Ford Motor Company from the campaign's beginnings in 1937 and served Local 600 as recording secretary from 1942-44. The Ford organizing drive and strike of 1949 are discussed. An oral history interview with Mr. Tappes is available.


Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.


A few contracts and constitutions have been placed in the Archives Library, and a few photographs and buttons have been transferred to the Archives Audiovisual Collection.

A transcript of an oral interview with Shelton Tappes may be found in the Blacks in the Labor Movement series of oral histories on deposit at the Reuther Library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Shelton Tappes Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA