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Biographical Material

Identifier: Series 1

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

The James Alton James Papers are arranged in six main categories: biographical material; correspondence; addresses and activities; publications; material relating to James' religious interests and activities; and miscellany.

The biographical material includes the original 197-page typescript and an annotated carbon copy of James' unpublished “Memoirs,” which takes him up through 1954; a substantial number of newspaper clippings (many with pictures of James, 1894-1961); alumni information sheets filled out by James; correspondence relating to major steps in his career; and several biographical sketches.

The general correspondence is arranged chronologically by date, 1888-1961. This covers a variety of subjects, writers, and recipients. Included are letters from Gov. Philip F. LaFollette of Wisconsin, President Woodrow Wilson (acknowledging James' letter of condolence upon Mrs. Wilson's death), and President Glenn Frank, University of Wisconsin, giving a brief account of some of his administrative problems. There are six folders of special correspondence which include letters to James upon his retirement from Northwestern (1935), from his former students (1917-1960), on his 85th birthday (1949), and letters to and from James concerning his work on the Committee on Archives and History (1942-47), Illinois Park Commission (primarily 1909-12), and his work on methods for selecting and promoting officers during World War I (1916-18). Much of James' substantive academic and personal correspondence is not here.

Included in the “addresses and activities” category are typescripts for speeches given by James on a wide variety of subjects including George Washington, Frances Willard, and the Northwestern University Guild; material pertaining to his visit to Czechoslovakia in 1921; and to his work with the Century of Progress (1930-34).

Among James' published and unpublished works included in the collection are two folders of reprints of articles written by him (a list of his publications has been placed in the inventory folder), the 750-page typescript for his unpublished “History of Northwestern University, 1850-1939”; and his unpublished accounts of the Development of Graduate Study and the Graduate School at Northwestern, 1856-1931; and the Development of the N.U. Department of History, 1897-1935. Unfortunately, no manuscripts for his published books and only a few for his published articles are included in this collection. A number of books written or edited by James are shelved with the Faculty Collection in the Archives reading room.

Grouped under the rubric “religion” is a small amount of correspondence together with related material pertaining to James' activities in connection with the World Council of Churches, the Methodist Church, and the Japan International Christian University.

The most important item in the miscellaneous category is a bound volume of letters of appreciation from friends, former students, and colleagues presented to James upon his retirement in 1935.

Addition, Box 5 This addition, which fills three folders in Box 5, is comprised of photocopied correspondence of James Alton James. The first folder contains correspondence between James and J. Franklin Jameson during the period 1905 to 1916. The second folder contains for the most part correspondence between James and Frederick Jackson Turner during the period 1906 to 1928. Correspondence between Merrill Crissey and James is also included in Folder 2. Folder 3 contains correspondence between James and Clarence Sibley Paine, Secretary/Treasurer of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, during the period 1909 to 1928.


  • 1888-1965


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


From the Collection: 5.00 Boxes

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US