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Lewis (Robert) family papers
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Collection Overview
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The Robert Lewis family papers comprise a multigenerational archive of a family of Black military servicemen who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The collection holds documents relating to the Lewis family's military service, as well as documents relating to the Lewis Family's East Texas cotton farm in Naples, Texas. Material in the collection dates from 1893 through the 1970s. Robert Lewis, the main subject of the collection, served as a Private in the U.S. Army for 14 months from 1918-1919, at the tail end of World War I. Robert's son Harold served in the Korean War and another relative, Alfonso Lewis, possibly Harold's older brother, served in the 93rd Signal Company in World War II. The collection also documents the effects of Jim Crow era poll tax policies in Texas and includes three poll tax receipts. Texas was one of the last states where poll taxes remained in effect until 1966, when a resolution repealed the practice. Various privileges of citizenship, including voter registration or issuance of driving licenses, were conditioned on payment of poll taxes. They were an effective tool of racial and socioeconomic discrimination used by the Jim Crow regime, as they charged a premium for full citizenship that the poorest segments of society could not afford. Like so many smallholding farmers in the early 20th century, the members of the Lewis family were in debt, and several documents in the collection record delinquency in their payments or liens on their property. The documents in the collection reveal aggressive tactics by the family's creditors to pursue payment of these debts. In a pension application form from 1939, Robert Lewis states his income as a self-employed farmer earning 350 dollars for the entire year. Some of the tax documents included are addressed to Wilson Carlisle, father of Robert Lewis's wife Texana Lewis. Wilson Carlisle owned the cotton farm at the time that these tax documents were issued. Some of the documents in the collection list Naples, Texas--the town where the family's farm was located--as being part of Cass County in East Texas. Other documents list the neighboring Morris County as the location of Naples. In a circa 1951 application for national service life insurance, Harold Lewis lists a mailing address located in Oxnard, California. The collection consists of approximately 123 pages of documents and ephemera, along with two rag dolls.
1.08 Linear Feet 2 boxes
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Department of Special Collections at specol@usc.edu. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
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