John L. Lewis Papers, 1879-1969

History of the Collection

The material in this collection is that which John L. Lewis considered so personal that he did not deposit it with the UMWA archives; most of it pertains to himself, but he also saved some membership certificates belonging to his daughter Kathryn. After Lewis' death, his son John L. Lewis, Jr., had this material auctioned by the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Auction Galleries on December 5 and 7, 1969.

Using funds pooled by Cornell University, Wayne State University, and the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the Society purchased most of the papers and memorabilia sold at this auction. Xerox or photographic copies of many letters purchased by private collectors were obtained and included with the Society's collection. Dr. and Mrs. John L. Lewis, Jr., donated to the Society that portion of the Lewis collection that was not put up for sale. From Mr. Richard Leekley, Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, the Society purchased a number of lots that Mr. Leekley had purchased at the auction.

The Society will retain this collection and distribute microfilm copies to Cornell University and Wayne State University.