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Stephen P. James Collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: TL014

Scope and Contents

The Stephen P. James Collection is a unique collection of personal materials centered on the development of road and highway education in the early and mid-20th century. Stephen P. James (1893-1971) was an activist in the promotion of highways and safety education, serving as director of organizations such as the Highway Education Board, the Pan American Highway Confederation, and the rural and education division of the Automotive Safety Foundation. Along with personal papers, the collection also contains materials from Stephen James’s colleagues.

The materials in the collection reflect Stephen James’s career in highway and safety work, mostly taking place in Washington D.C., and Pan American conferences taking place throughout Latin America. Later correspondence were sent to his home in Silver Spring, Maryland; and he supported research and education programs for universities and organizations all around the United States. A prominent university research program included in this collection is the Center for Safety Education at Michigan State University. The timespan of these materials ranges from 1920 to 1969. The collection is arranged into 5 series: four of them represent a transportation organization he was prominent in; one represents additional materials either not associated with a particular organization or created after his retirement in 1958. Materials include correspondence between colleagues and delegates, reports on organization activities and finances, programs for safety research, information and resolutions from conferences and congresses, essays submitted for contests, and others. The prominent language of the materials is English, but there are also documents in Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Of special interest are the materials related to Stephen James’s work regarding the Pan American Highway and the sponsored essay contests that include winning essays, correspondence with winners, photographs, and advertisements.


  • 1920 - 1969
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1958
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/05/2015


Conditions Governing Access

To inquire about access to this collection, please contact the Transportation Library at or (847) 491-5273.


9.00 Boxes

9.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Stephen P. James (1893-1971) was an early pioneer in highway safety development and education. This collection covers his and his colleagues' work from 1920 to 1969, including the organization and management of essay contests, supporting research programs at universities, and the planning and construction of the Pan American Highway.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in boxes that are themselves arranged in series based on the organization Stephen James was a part of in chronological order. Each series is divided into sub-series that describe the types and/or themes of the materials. Each folder within the sub-series is defined by a number. The collection is arranged into 271 folders across 9 boxes. It measures 7.83 linear feet. Finding aid written by Zachary Stein.

Related Materials

Biography and Tribute to Stephen P. James, March 28, 1958, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Separated Materials

Monographs were separated from the archival collection and are part of the Transportation Library print collection.

Guide to the Stephen P. James Collection
Zachary Stein
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Transportation Library Repository

Main Library, 5th Floor, North Tower
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US