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Lena Morrow Lewis Papers

Call Number



1899-1951, inclusive


Lewis, Lena Morrow
Wilson, Margaret (Role: Donor)
Rand School of Social Science (Role: Donor)


2.5 Linear Feet in 5 manuscript boxes.

Language of Materials

Materials written in English.


Lena Morrow Lewis was a socialist activist in California and Alaska, a candidate for public office, journalist, editor of The Labor World, and worked for the release of Warren K. Billings who had been imprisoned for complicity in the July 1916 Preparedness Day parade bomb explosion in San Francisco. The papers contain correspondence, scrapbooks, unpublished writings, memorabilia and ephemera. NOTE: the collection has been microfilmed (with the exception of a few files), and researchers must use the microfilm copy (R-7124, reels 63-65).

Biographical Note

Lena Morrow Lewis was one of the most active women socialists in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Throughout her career in radical politics, Lewis was immersed in a variety of socialist activities. She was a candidate on the Socialist Party ticket in numerous local, state, and congressional elections in California and Alaska. Besides her electoral endeavors, Lewis gave lectures on contemporary socialist issues and worked as a journalist for several socialist and labor publications in California and Alaska, including The Labor World, which she edited. Lewis also worked diligently in support of the release of Warren K. Billings who, along with Tom Mooney, was convicted and imprisoned for 23 years on a charge of complicity in the Preparedness Day parade bomb explosion at San Francisco in July 1916.


Folders are generally arranged topically.

Scope and Content Note

The Lena Morrow Lewis Papers, 1899-1951, are organized into 20 subject files, including Billings correspondence, general correspondence, family and personal papers, lectures, memorabilia, memorials and biographical notes, notebook, notes, photographs, printed matter, radio talks, and nine scrapbooks. Each subject file has been given a frame number (i.e., XVII:1, where the roman numeral XVII indicates that the Lewis Papers are the 17th collection within the microfilm publication Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956). A list of the subject files and some of the items within specific files can be found in the complete reel list which follows this description of the arrangement of the collection.

The Billings correspondence (XVII:1) and the general correspondence (XVII:2) constitute the largest quantity of materials in this collection. The letters within these two subject files are arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end of each file. Of special importance in the correspondence files is the extensive collection of letters from and about Warren K. Billings during 17 of his,23 years in prison. The letters, which are occasionally critical. of Tom Mooney, affirm Billings' innocence and concentrate on the numerous efforts to have him released from prison. The general correspondence includes numerous letters discussing contemporary political issues and socialist personalities. Much of this correspondence is from less prominent socialists, but there are letters from such important figures as Theodore Debs, James H. Maurer, James Oneal, Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, and Charles Edward Russell. In this file, there are also a number of personal letters from Iva Ettor which offer some interesting insights into some of the socialist and labor organizing activities of her husband, Joe Ettor.

There are 27 photographs contained in the Lewis Papers (XVII:9). The photographs are arranged in chronological order and include both portraits of Lena Morrow Lewis and group photographs featuring Lewis and other socialists. Each photograph has been labeled with a number in the lower right hand corner of the picture. These numbers correspond with the description of the photographs in the complete reel list. (After being microfilmed, the photographs were separated to the Library's Photograph collection (see Separated Materials, below).

The nine scrapbooks (XVII:12 XVII:20) constitute another important segment of this collection. These scrapbooks, which consist primarily of newspaper clippings, focus upon specific aspects of Lewis, life, particularly her work with husband, Arthur Morrow Lewis; her experiences as a journalist and political candidate in Alaska; her involvement with the Socialist Party in California; and her writings about various personalities in the socialist and communist movements. Each scrapbook has been provided with an index which lists the title of each article, the page number(s) where each article is located, and the author of the article if the author is known. For each scrapbook, the index was filmed before the contents of the scrapbook.

There is also a variety of miscellaneous items in this collection. Prominent among these items are a small number of WEVD radio scripts (XVII:11) and speech notes (XVII:8) which pertain to Lewis' involvement with the Social Democratic Federation. Some interesting items are also contained in the memorabilia file (XVII:5), such as lecture announcements, Socialist Party dues books, a ticket to the International Socialist Congress at Copenhagen in 1910, a resignation card from the American Federation of Labor, and a certificate of nomination for the 22nd Assembly District of California.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Lena Morrow Lewis and Margaret Wilson, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holders.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Lena Morrow Lewis Papers; TAM 015; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer from the Rand School Archives, 1962. An additional accession was donated in 1974 by Margaret K. Wilson. The accession number associated with these gifts is 1962.011

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to the fragile nature of the original materials, researchers must use the microfilmed version; microfilm call number is Film R-7124, Reels 63-65. Files that were not microfilmed (Box 1, Folder 8; Box 3, Folder 12; Box 5, Folders 2-3).

Separated Material

Lena Morrow Lewis Photographs (Photographs 43)

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Lena Morrow Lewis Photographs (Photos 043)

Collection processed by

Tamiment staff

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:46:14 -0400.
Language: Finding aid written in English.

Processing Information

Decisions regarding arrangement, description, and physical interventions for this collection prior to 2019 have not yet been recorded. In 2019, items were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes in preparation for offsite storage.

Revisions to this Guide

March 2019: Edited by Jasmine Sykes-Kunk for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Lewis, L.M. Guide

Note Statement

Finding Aid


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012