Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Collection: Maxwell Lyons Sr. Papers

The Maxwell Lyons Sr. papers are now available to the public through the Arkansas Studies Institute research room. This collection contains documents related to the military service of Maxwell J. Lyons Sr., including numerous letters written by Lyons during World War I. The collection also includes other related correspondence and military documents, several photographs, and a scrapbook.

Maxwell Joseph Lyons was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 30, 1896. After the outbreak of World War I, he left Princeton University to enlist in the Army, but was turned away twice for being overweight for his height. He then tried to enlist in the National Guard with the same result before moving on the U.S. Marine Corps. Although he faced the same weight regulations with the USMC, the examining physician did not believe his weight should stop Lyons from service and encouraged him to continue to push for acceptance. Eventually, Lyons traveled to Washington D.C. and sought the help of Congressman Henderson M. Jacoway to reach the military officials. In December 1917, he was finally successful. Soon after enlisting, Lyons was sent to France with the 6th Marines. He received the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross, as well as the Croix de Guerre and Fors a Guerre from France. After the armistice was signed, Lyons remained in Germany with the Army of Occupation before returning to the United States in April 1919.

Lyons was president of the Lyons Machinery Company, a family business. He was involved with the Marine Corps League and served as state commandant during World War II. He died in October 1978 in Little Rock.

Most of the correspondence in this collection is from Maxwell Lyons while he was stationed in France and Germany to his family in Little Rock. Maxwell writes of the War and his conditions, as well as of his impressions of Europe and the local people. Other correspondence in the collection of note is a series of letters from Joseph Lyons (Maxwell’s father) seeking a speedy discharge of his son due to the health of a family member. The collection also contains eight editions from April 1919, of "The Charleston Daily Roll," a newspaper printed at sea on USS Charleston.

The finding aid for the Maxwell Lyons Sr. Papers can be accessed online or in the research room at the Arkansas Studies Institute. Correspondence and photos from the collection are available online through Arkansas and the Great War.


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