Edward Gardner Lewis papers, 1905-1980

Overview of the Collection

Lewis, Edward Gardner, 1869-1950
Edward Gardner Lewis papers
1905-1980 (inclusive)
1.98 cubic ft. (4 boxes)
Collection Number
Papers of a promoter, magazine publisher, political activist, and founder of two utopian colonies: University City, Missouri, and Atascadero, California.
American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
American Heritage Center
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University Ave.
Dept. 3924
Laramie, WY
Telephone: 3077663756
Access Restrictions
Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Edward Gardner Lewis (1869–1950) was a promoter, magazine publisher, political activist, and founder of two utopian colonies: University City, Missouri, and Atascadero, California.

Lewis (commonly known as "E.G. Lewis") was born in Connecticut, and came to St. Louis, Missouri, in the late 1890s. He established the Lewis Publishing Company, which became the foremost periodical publisher in America, with the Woman’s Magazine, the Woman’s Farm Journal, and many other publications. His magazines had the largest circulation in America at that time.

In 1902, Lewis purchased land near the construction site for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, which became the nucleus of his first utopian city, University City. After incorporating University City in 1906, he served three terms as its mayor. During this time, he built the Woman's Magazine Building, an Egyptian temple, and an Art Academy. He also founded the American Woman’s League, the People's University, the American Woman's Republic, and started two daily newspapers and two banks.

Beginning in 1905, Lewis was indicted fourteen times for mail fraud for using the magazine rate for his periodicals when the U.S. Postmaster General deemed them advertisements. Although exonerated, Lewis’ lengthy legal battles forced him into bankruptcy in 1911. He next turned his attention to his dream of a new master planned community in Atascadero, California.

In 1912, Lewis began purchasing land in Atascadero with the backing of investors. It was intended to be a planned community for his American Woman's Republic. By 1915, he had moved his base of operations to the Atascadero colony. In 1924, Lewis' business interests were failing and he was forced into involuntary bankruptcy. In 1928, he was convicted of mail fraud and sentenced with concurrent terms for seven years at a federal penitentiary. He was paroled in 1931, but, against orders of his release, established a mail-based subscription newsletter. He was again imprisoned and was released in 1934. Edward Gardner Lewis died in 1950.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains materials pertaining to establishment of the Illustrated Daily News by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. in 1923; materials related to Lewis’ planned communities of University City, Missouri, and Atascadero, California; motion picture film produced by Lewis concerning business techniques and other topics; a book titled The Siege of University City by Sidney Morse published in 1912; and a scrapbook with copies of The Woman’s Magazine, 1905.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright Information

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Preferred Citation

Preferred Citation

Item Description, Box Number, Folder Number, Collection Name, Collection Number, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Related Materials

Related Materials

There are materials regarding E.G. Lewis' investments in oil fields in Wyoming and California at the Huntington Library.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition Information

This material was received from Lynn Peter in 1963.

Processing Note

Processing Information

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Subordinate Component # 1Return to Top

The American Heritage Center is in the process of converting its older container list)s to a more accessible format. This link is to an older version of a container list.


Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Newspaper publishing -- California -- Los Angeles.
  • Planned communities -- United States.

Personal Names

  • Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1898-1974

Geographical Names

  • Atascadero (Calif.)
  • University City (Mo.) -- History.

Form or Genre Terms

  • Periodicals -- Publishing.
  • Women’s periodicals, American.