Lewis, Lena Morrow, 1868-1950

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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.

From the guide to the Lena Morrow Lewis Papers, 1899-1951, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Lena Morrow Lewis (1862-1950) was an itinerant Socialist Party organizer, lecturer, candidate for public office, and journalist. She organized for the Womens Christian Temperance Union, the Socialist Party of America, becoming the first woman elected to its National Executive Committee, and managed Eugene V. Debs 1920 presidential campaign in the Pacific Northwest. From 1913 through 1931, she served as editor for labor and socialist publications on the West Coast and in Alaska. In 1936, she left the Socialist Party and helped found the Social Democratic Party. In the last years of her life she worked in the Meyer London Memorial Library of the Rand School of Social Science.

From the description of Lena Morrow Lewis photograph collection [graphic]. 1870-ca. 1949 (bulk 1900-1920) (New York University). WorldCat record id: 80966493

Lena Morrow Lewis (1862-1950), a talented itinerant Socialist Party organizer, popular lecturer, and journalist, was born in Gerlaw, IIlinois. Daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she graduated from Monmouth College (where she wrote for the college newspaper), a small private institution. Immediately upon graduation she became an official of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, where she honed her talents as an organizer. In 1898, Lewis left the WCTU to work for the woman suffrage movement full-time, working her way West on state suffrage referendums, ending in Oregon. In 1902, in California, she joined the Socialist Party of America (SP). Shortly after, she rose quickly to become a full-time national organizer for the SP. In 1903 she married Arthur Lewis, a well-known Socialist lecturer, and in 1909 she became the first woman to be elected to the Socialist Party's National Executive Committee. The following year she served as its delegate to the International Socialist Congress in Copenhagen.

After bearing the brunt of a bout of intercine conflict at Party headquarters, Lewis moved to Alaska in 1913, where she edited Alaska Labor News and in 1916 ran for Congress on the Socialist Party ticket. In 1917 she left Alaska for Seattle and edited the Party's Seattle Daily Call . In 1919, when many Socialist Party members left to join the newly-formed Communist Party, she remained with the SP, the next year managing Eugene Debs' presidential campaign in the Northwest.

Returning to California, Lewis served as managing editor for the Oakland Labor World, an influential and progressive daily newspaper, from 1925-1931, as well as State Secretary of the California Socialist Party. When the Depression caused Labor World to fold, she managed the 1932 Socialist Party campaign in Salt Lake City, and as worked for the Party in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho. By now in her mid-sixties, and virtually penniless, she moved to New York City, where a small group of socialist functionaries might find support. In 1936 she left the Socialist Party and helped found the Social Democratic Party. In the last years of her life she worked in the library of the Socialist Party-associated Rand School of Social Science, organizing the papers of the movement to which she had devoted her life.

From the guide to the Lena Morrow Lewis Photographs, Bulk, 1900-1920, 1870-1949, (Bulk 1900-1920), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

The papers include Billings correspondence, general correspondence, family and personal papers, lectures, memorabilia, memorials and biographical notes, notebooks, notes, photographs, printed matter, radio talks, and nine scrapbooks. The Billings correspondence and the general corresponcence constitute the largest quantity of materials. Of special importance in the correspondence files is the extensive collection of letters from and about Warren K. Billings during seventeen of his twenty three years in prison. The letters, which are occasionally critical of Tom Mooney, affirm Billings' innocence and concentrate on numerous efforts to have him released from prison. Prominent correspondents include Theodore Dibs, James H. Maurer, James Oneal, Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, and Charles Edward Russell. There are also a number of personel letters from Iva Ettor which offer some interesting insights into some of the socialist and labor organizaing activities of her husband, Joe Ettor. The scrapbooks consist primarily of newspaper clippings and focus on specific aspects of Lewis's life, particularly her work with her husband, Arthur Morrow Lewis; her experiences as a journalist and political candidate in Alaska; her involvement with the Socialist Party in Claifornia; and her writings about various personalities in the socialist and communist movements. There is also a variety of miscellaneous items including WEVD radio scripts and speech notes.

From the description of Papers, 1899-1951. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 17269226

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Socialist Party of New York State. Records, 1906-1912. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
referencedIn Socialist collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Warren K. Billings Papers, 1899-1973, (bulk 1920-1939) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Billings, Warren K., 1893-1972. Papers of Warren K. Billings, 1899-1973 (bulk 1920-1939). Library of Congress
creatorOf Guide to the Lena Morrow Lewis Papers, 1899-1951 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Guide to the Lena Morris Lewis Photograph Collection, 1870-1949 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Socialist Party of New York State Records, 1906-1912 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Guide to the Social Democratic Federation of America Records, 1933-1956 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Guide to the Social Democratic Federation of America Records, 1933-1956 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Guide to the Lena Morrow Lewis Papers, 1899-1951 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Mendel V. Halushka Papers, 1919-1958 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Guide to the Algernon Lee Papers, 1861-1954 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Emma (Moffat) McLaughlin Papers, 1927- 1967 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Guide to the Algernon Lee Papers, 1861-1954 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Guide to the James Oneal Papers, 1907-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Meyer London Papers, 1910-1959 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Guide to the Lena Morris Lewis Photograph Collection, 1870-1949 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arctic Brotherhood corporateBody
associatedWith Barnes, Mabel person
associatedWith Berger, Victor L., 1860-1929 person
correspondedWith Billings, Warren K., 1893-1972. person
associatedWith Billings, Warren K., 1893-1972. person
associatedWith Bush, Carrie person
associatedWith Bush, Carrie person
associatedWith Carey, James person
associatedWith Carey, James B. person
associatedWith Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938 person
associatedWith Debs, Eugene V. (Eugene Victor), 1855-1926 person
associatedWith Debs, Eugene V. (Eugene Victor), 1855-1926. person
associatedWith Debs, Theodore, 1864-1945 person
associatedWith Debs, Theodore, 1864-1945. person
associatedWith Dent, Emeline person
associatedWith Dent, Emeline person
associatedWith Ettor, Iva person
associatedWith Ettor, Iva. person
associatedWith Ettor, Joe. person
associatedWith Ettor, Joseph J. person
associatedWith Feigenbaum, William M., 1886-1949 person
associatedWith Gordon, F. G. R. person
associatedWith Halushka, Mendel V., 1904-1958 person
associatedWith International Socialist Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith International Socialist Congress 1910 :Copenhagen, Denmark) corporateBody
associatedWith International socialist congress. 8th, Copenhagen, 1910. corporateBody
associatedWith Irwin, Dan person
associatedWith Irwin, Dan person
associatedWith Lee, Algernon. person
associatedWith Lewis, Arthur M. (Arthur Morrow), b. 1873 person
associatedWith Lewis, Arthur M. (Arthur Morrow), b. 1873. person
associatedWith London, Meyer, 1871-1926 person
associatedWith Maurer, James H. person
associatedWith Maurer, James H. (James Hudson), b. 1864 person
correspondedWith McLaughlin, Emma Moffat, 1880-1968 person
associatedWith McLevy, Jasper, 1878-1962 person
associatedWith Mooney, Johmas J., 1882-1942. person
associatedWith Mooney, Thomas J., 1882-1942 person
associatedWith Oneal, James. person
associatedWith Oneal, James, b. 1875 person
associatedWith Russell, Charles Edward, 1860-1941 person
associatedWith Russell, Charles Edward, 1860-1941. person
associatedWith Social Democratic Federation. corporateBody
associatedWith Social Democratic Federation of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party of New York State. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Stokes, James Graham Phelps, 1872-1960 person
associatedWith Stokes, Rose Pastor, 1879-1933 person
associatedWith Story, Mary A. person
associatedWith Story, Mary A. person
associatedWith Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968 person
associatedWith Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968. person
associatedWith Van Lear, Mrs. Tom person
associatedWith Van Lear, Tom. Mrs. person
associatedWith Walker, Ryan person
associatedWith Walker, Ryan person
associatedWith WEVD (Radio station) New York, N.Y. corporateBody
associatedWith WEVD (Radio station) New York, N.Y. corporateBody
associatedWith White, Bertha Hale person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Alaska |x Politics and government.
Dawson (Yukon) |v Pictorial works.
Lynn (Mass.)
Alaska
Lynne (Mass.) |v Pictorial works.
Dawson (Yukon)
Subject
Political campaigns
Political campaigns
Communism
Communism
Socialism
Socialism
Socialists
Socialists
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1868

Death 1950

Female

Information

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