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Olga Madar Papers

Identifier: LP000203

Scope and Content

The papers of Olga Madar include correspondence, reports, minutes, news clippings, publications and other material reflecting her career with the UAW and her work on behalf of issues of concern to women, senior citizens and other community groups.

Important subjects in the collection: Civil Rights Act of 1964--Title VII Coalition of Labor Union Women Democratic Party (Mich.) Detroit Public Schools Equal pay for equal work--United States Equal Rights Amendment--United States Michigan Democratic Party National Women’s Political Caucus Network for Economic Rights Retirees--Services for--Michigan Sex discrimination against women Trade-unions--Environmental policy UAW Conservation and Resource Development Department UAW Recreation and Leisure-Time Activities Department UAW Retired Workers Centers UAW Technical, Office, Professional Department United States. Civil Rights Act of 1964 Women automobile industry workers Women labor leaders--United States Women’s rights--Societies, etc.

Important correspondents in the collection: Birch Bayh Liz Carpenter Caroline Davis Carolyn Forrest Douglas Fraser Erma Henderson Hubert Humphrey Mildred Jeffrey Coretta Scott King Margaret Laurence Emil Mazey George McGovern Barbara Mikulski Walter Reuther Edith Van Horn Myra Wolfgang Leonard Woodcock

Series Description: Series I, Personal Files, 1929-1996 Series II, United Automobile Workers Union, 1942-1995 Series III, Organizations and Issues, 1950-1996 Files related to her activities with organizations other than the UAW and to her interest in issues not necessarily related to her union duties.


  • 1929 - 1996
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1996

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.


Olga Marie Madar was born in the coal mining town of Sykesville, Pennsylvania May 17, 1915 and moved to Detroit with her family during the Depression. Because of her prowess on the softball field, Chrysler hired her to work on the assembly line after her graduation from Northeastern High School in 1933 and she used summer jobs at the corporation's Kercheval plant and the Bower Roller Bearing plant to put herself through Michigan Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University), graduating in 1938 with a degree in physical education.

In 1941 she traded her teaching position for a better paying job at the Ford Willow Run bomber plant, joined nascent UAW Local 50 and organized its first community recreation programs, programs so successful that the local hired her as director of recreation, social services and women's activities. In 1947 she was appointed director of the International Union's Recreation Department where she fought and won the battle to integrate organized bowling leagues. From 1958 until 1966 Ms. Madar also served as a Detroit Parks and Recreation Commissioner and was responsible for instituting competitive promotional exams within the city's recreation department and for setting up innovative programs for senior citizens.

In 1966 Ms. Madar was elected to the UAW International Executive Board as a member-at-large, the first woman to hold such office. Four years later she was elected to the first of two terms as International Vice-President-again, the first woman to achieve such a leadership position within the UAW-with responsibility for directing the Departments of Conservation and Resource Development, Recreation and Leisure-Time Activities and Consumer Affairs and servicing technical, office and professional workers' locals. Ms. Madar retired from the UAW in 1974, but remained active in retiree affairs.

Throughout her life, Olga Madar worked tirelessly to eliminate discrimination against women and minorities in the workplace and in the community and proved especially adept at coalition-building. She was instrumental in launching in 1971 the Michigan Women's Political Caucus and the Network for Economic Rights, which pushed for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and for gender equity in the workplace, and spearheaded the formation of the Coalition of Labor Union Women by women who felt powerless within their unions, winning election as national president at its founding convention in March of 1974. Through service with countless civic organizations, she sought to increase citizen participation in decision-making in recreation, education, health care and other areas.


12 Linear Feet (12 SB)


A member of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 50, Olga Madar served as director of recreation programs, social services and women's activities, and as director of the International Union's Recreational Department. Ms. Madar was the first woman to hold a position on the UAW International Executive Board, and the first woman to serve as UAW International Vice-President. Ms. Madar's papers reflect her career with the UAW and her commitment to advocacy for women, minorities and senior citizens.


Arranged in 3 series - Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Boxes 2-6), and Series 3 (Boxes 6-12). Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Related Material

CLUW and UAW Conservation and Recreation Departments Records, Madar's UAW IEB oral history and two additional oral histories in which she discusses her involvement in the women's movement.


A few photographs and items of memorabilia received with the collection have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Olga Madar 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 Ave.
Detroit MI 48202 USA