The George D. Wendel Manuscript Collection sheds light on the socioeconomic distress of many central cities in the late twentieth century, and reflects the passion of a committed scholar and teacher of urban change. It also commemorates the many redevelopment entities at work in St. Louis during the last few decades of the nineteen hundreds and chronicles their improvement efforts.
Within the Format Files series, the Course Materials and Student Papers subseries give an idea of what and how Wendel taught during his career of over forty years at Saint Louis University, while the Clippings subseries and Papers and Reports subseries give evidence of Wendel's national reputation as an urban theorist.
In the Subject Files series, the City and County Reorganization subseries and the Mayor's Advisory Committee subseries provide insight into the vexed problem of efficient government in the St. Louis area, and the Election Fraud subseries records the circumstances surrounding several contested runs for office. The Crime at College subseries concerns Saint Louis University's threatened lawsuit against two authors whose book on campus crime apparently misrepresented the situation at the University, and the St. Louis Board of Education subseries contains much material on desegregration of the St. Louis public schools. The Pruitt-Igoe subseries presents a history of that tortured public housing complex, while the Tenant Management subseries explores one attempt to solve the types of problems that had festered at Pruitt-Igoe. Subseries such as Community Development Agency (CDA), Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, Model Cities, and Redevelopment detail efforts to arrest urban decay in the area; the Transportation subseries includes valuable information on the expansion of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and attempts to build a second major airport facility in the region.
The Photographs series provides visual documentation of various public housing projects and urban conditions in the United States during the mid-twentieth century, with an emphasis on the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in Saint Louis. Some of the photographs were taken by faculty members at the Center for Urban Programs, which was founded by Wendel in 1968, but most appear to have been compiled from a variety of sources, including the National Archives and Records Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Saint Louis Chamber of Commerce, the Saint Louis Housing Authority, and the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Center for Urban Programs Reports and Offprints series includes the results of numerous studies prepared by Dr. Wendel and the Center for Urban Programs on topics related to urban problems and urban renewal in Saint Louis between 1969 and 1985. These reports appear in some cases to be the finished products of the research materials contained in the Subject Files series. Additional reports are also contained within the Subject Files series. The topics covered in these reports are reflective of the many problems faced by Saint Louis and other cities in the United States after deindustrialization and the depopulation of urban areas began in the 1950s.