Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Black Legion collection

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Black Legion collection,
Creator: Black Legion.
Inclusive dates: 1936-1945, and undated
Extent: .5 cubic feet (in 1 box)
Collection of copies of trial testimony, sworn statements, correspondence,and other materials collected by Earl Young, Detroit' City Attorney in the late 1930s about the Black Legion.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc# 2937

Access Restrictions:

Black Legion collection is open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Black Legion collection, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical.


Organizational History:

The Black Legion, also known as the “Wolverine Republican League,” was a radical branch of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan. Its members were pro-white, native-born Protestants who were against Jews, Blacks, Communists, Anarchists, and Catholics. At one point, there were an estimated 200,000 members in Michigan, organized and led by “Colonel” Harvey Davis. Among their goals were to take over the government by introducing typhoid germs into milk and to kill Mayor William Voisine of Ecorse. The shooting death of a black man named Silas Coleman in May 1935 was attributed to the Black Legion.

In May 1936, the murder of Charles “Chap” Poole, on Detroit’s west side, led to the trial, conviction, and dismissal of four Highland Park policemen, three firemen, and a city councilman for behavior against city codes. Petitions for retrial were made all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, which upheld the guilty decisions of the lower courts. (For further information see Detroit murders, by Patricia Bronte [and others] by Alvin C. Hamer.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The materials are copies of trial testimony, sworn statements, correspondence, and other materials collected by Earl Young, Detroit’s City Attorney in the late 1930s.

Subject Terms

    • Young, Earl.
    • Davis, Harvey.
    • Black Legion.
    • Ku Klux Klan (1915-)--Michigan.
    • Murder--Michigan--Detroit.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Black Legion collection. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Correspondence and Notes (copies), 1936-1945, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Newspaper Articles (copies), April-May 1938, undated
    Box   1 F   3
    Police and Fire Commission Papers (copies), 1936-1941, undated
    Box   1 F   4
    Statements of Witnesses (37, copies), 1937, undated
    Box   1 F   5
    Defendants' Files, Baker, Charles C. (patrolman, copies), 1941-1944
    Box   1 F   6
    Defendants' Files, Brand, Herbert L. (fireman, copies), 1936-1938
    Box   1 F   7
    Defendants' Files, Fredericks, Harold (fireman, copies), undated
    Box   1 F   8
    Defendants' Files, Gardt, Raymond (patrolman, copies), 1936
    Box   1 F   9
    Defendants' Files, Godwin, John A. (patrolman, copies), 1936-1944, undated
    Box   1 F   10
    Defendants' Files, Howard, Frank (fireman, copies), 1936
    Box   1 F   11
    Defendants' Files, Keller, William H. (fireman, copies), 1936
    Box   1 F   12
    Defendants' Files, Sparling, Elwood (patrolman, copies), undated
    Box   1 F   13
    Defendants' Files, Wilson, R. Stanley (city councilman, copies), 1936-1938