Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid to the Oscar Lewis papers, undated, 1859-1988 (bulk 1930-1965)
BANC MSS 93/97 c  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (106.29 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Oscar Lewis papers
    Date: undated
    Date (inclusive): 1859-1988
    Date (bulk): 1930-1965
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 93/97 c
    Creator: Lewis, Oscar
    Extent: 14 cartons, 1 box, 3 oversize boxes, 2 oversize folders (16 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The papers of Oscar Lewis including correspondence, manuscripts, galley proofs, photographs, clippings, articles, broadsides and other ephemera.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Oscar Lewis papers, BANC MSS 93/97 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Lewis, Oscar, 1893-1992 -- Archives
    Authors, American -- 20th century
    California -- History
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- History
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Intellectual life
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Social life and customs
    West (U.S.) -- History
    West (U.S.) -- In literature
    West (U.S.) -- Social conditions
    Galley proofs (Printing)
    Manuscripts for publication

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Oscar Lewis papers were given to the Bancroft Library by Oscar Lewis from 1978-1987. Additions were made by Addison E. and Rosalind Mooney in 1992, Jim Nance in 1992 and Tommy F. Angell in 2003.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mario H. Ramirez in 2012.

    Biographical Information

    Oscar Lewis (1893-1992) was a historian and author whose work was defined by the literary, social and cultural history of the American West. Born in San Francisco to William F. Lewis and Anna Walter Lewis, and raised in the towns of Red Bluff and Sebastopol, Lewis briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley (1912) and subsequently dropped out to pursue writing professionally. During World War I, he served with an ambulance squad affiliated with the university, and remained in Europe after the Armistice to write. He emerged as a writer of note in the 1930s.
    Initially publishing short stories in such magazines as Boy's Life, Lewis went on to write some of the most seminial books on the history and culture of California and San Francisco. Among these were Silver Kings, I Remember Christine, Bay Window Bohemia, A History of San Francisco and The Uncertain Journey. He is best known for his book The Big Four which chronicles the efforts of Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker to build the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific Railroad.
    He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the Westerners, Secretary of the Book Club of California and served on the San Francisco Art Commission from 1944-1960.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Oscar Lewis papers chronicle the career of one of the premient historians of California and the American West. They lend insight into the scope of Lewis' literary and historical interests and endeavors, his relationships with other writers and publishers, and his editorial process.
    Highlights of the papers include original writings and annotated drafts of published works, as well as correpondence with such literary and artistic figures as Thomas Mann, Carl Van Doren, Mallette Dean and Gertrude Atherton, and the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf Inc. The collection contains a number of primary documents on topics that include the Central Pacific Railroad, entrepreneur Adolph Sutro and philanthropist Albert M. Bender. Included as well are galley proofs, photographs, clippings, articles, research materials, writings by other authors such as Helen Hunt Jackson and William Lewis, broadsides and other emphemera.
    The collection spans the years 1859 to 1988 with the bulk concentrating on the years 1930 to 1965. It is divided into three series and two subseries: I. Correspondence, II. Writings (subseries I. Lewis, Oscar; subseries II. Other Authors) and III. Subject Files.