Robert Straus Escape From Custody research files
- Robert Straus Escape From Custody research files
- 1945-1990, undated (inclusive)
- Straus, Robert
- 1.5 Cubic Feet
- Collection is arranged by subject.
- Preferred Citation
- 2016ms011: [identification of item], Robert Straus Escape From Custody research files, 1945-1990, undated, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
- University of Kentucky
- Biography / History
- Robert Straus was born January 9, 1923, to Alma F. and Samuel H. Straus and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. He went on to receive his Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. in sociology all from Yale University in 1944, 1945, and 1947. He married his wife, Ruth E. Dawson, in September 1945 and together they had four children between 1946 and 1953. During his tenure at Yale, Dr. Straus was very active; from 1943-1944 he was involved in the US Army, he was a staff member at the Center of Alcoholic Studies from 1945-1953, and a lecturer in the School of Alcoholic Studies from 1948-1961. In this time period he was also a staff director of the Connecticut Governor's Commission on Health Resources and acting director of the Connecticut Child Study and Treatment Home from 1952-1953. He then moved to the State University of New York – Syracuse as an Assistant Professor in 1953, and in 1956 as an Associate Professor.
- In 1956 Dr. Straus came to the University of Kentucky as a member of the original planning staff for the Medical Center and a Professor of Sociology and Medical Sociology. In 1959 he became Coordinator of Academic Affairs (until 1963) in the College of Medicine alongside becoming Professor and Chairman in the department of Behavioral Science, also in the College of Medicine. He was appointed to the position of professor in the department Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy in 1975. During his sabbatical from UK in 1986 Dr. Straus was a visiting fellow at Yale University, visiting professor at UC Berkeley, and visiting scientist at the Medical Research Institute of San Francisco. After thirty-one years of service at the University of Kentucky Dr. Straus retired early in 1987, however he returned as a post-retiree as a part-time professor of Behavioral Science in the College of Medicine from 1988-1990.
- Over the course of his academic career Dr. Robert Straus produced over sixty articles predominantly focusing on alcoholism and medical issues associated with the addiction. He also published six books relating to the topics of medicine and alcohol during his lifetime. One of his most prominent works is his book Escape from Custody: A Study of Alcoholism and Institutional Dependency as Reflected in the Life Record of a Homeless Man. Published in 1974, it focuses on the life of Elliott Stone (named Frank Moore in the book) as depicted through their correspondence from 1945 until Stone's death in 1972.
- Elliott Hunnewell Stone (1904-1972) was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in May 1904. By May of 1905 his father committed suicide leaving Elliott in the care of his mother, who was only eighteen at the time. He was removed from her custody and was raised by his maternal grandfather. He never truly reconnected with his mother, she went on to become a nurse and a wife and by the age of sixteen Elliott had dropped out of high school and enlisted in the US Navy. From 1920 to 1924 he served in the Navy, then enlisting in the US Army and serving there until 1932. He began to drink heavily after his release from the Army and over the next ten years he worked as a hospital attendant, fireman, and general laborer; in July 1943 he joined the Merchant Marines, leaving barely a year later in April 1944. In an interview he stated that he drinks to "escape from reality", and that what lead him to drink was feelings of inferiority and worthlessness. According to Stone, the longest he has gone without a drink after beginning to drink heavily was seventeen days. Over the course of his correspondence with Robert Straus he moved between Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Nearly every year Stone was incarcerated for a minimum of one week up to a maximum of fifty weeks out of the fifty-two per year. He would spend the majority of his life from 1945 onwards switching between incarceration and hospitalization/rehabilitation, working intermittently, and only in the last few years of his life was he able to spend increasingly more time living in sustained residence in a rented room. Elliott Stone passed away on September 24, 1972 in a hospital in Massachusetts after being sent there by his landlady who was worried about his condition.
- Scope and Content
- The Robert Straus Escape from Custody research files (dated 1943-1975, undated; 0.75 cubic feet; 4 boxes) primarily consist of correspondence between Robert Straus and Elliott Stone, the subject of Escape from Custody. Additionally, the collection contains correspondence between Straus and Roberta Greene, Stone and his mother, and Straus and Stone's mother. The collection includes both original letters and typed transcripts for publication in Escape from Custody. The typed transcripts contain pseudonyms and fake place names. The letters delve into Stone's alcoholism, incarceration, homelessness, lack of education, and relationship with his mother. In addition to the letters, the collection includes publication material and related studies. The publication material includes biographical information on Elliott Stone, requests for permission to include information in the book, and correspondence between Straus and other colleagues. The related studies series include Straus' notes on the medical issues of the homeless and the Hart Island report on the efforts of the Island to assist in the rehabilitation of homeless persons.
Restrictions on Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access
- Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
- Use Restrictions
- The physical and intellectual rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Contents of the Collection
Original correspondence, 1946-1970
Correspondence between Elliott Stone and Robert Straus, 1946-1970
Copies of letters, 1946-1972
- Box 2, folder 1
Roberta Greene to Frank Moore, 1949-1954
- Box 2, folder 7
Publication material, 1945-1988, undated
Publication matters for Escape from Custody, 1970-1974
- Box 4, folder 1
Request for permission from Theresa Drouin for inclusion in novel, 1973 April 18
- Box 4, folder 2
Letter from Theresa Lonhard (Drouin) about Escape from Custody, 1979 February 20
- Box 4, folder 4
Permissions - informed consent, undated
- Box 4, folder 5
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