A Guide to the James H. Latimer Papers, 1864-2000 Latimer, James H., Papers, 1864-2000 37623

A Guide to the James H. Latimer Papers, 1864-2000

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 37623


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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© 2002 By the Library of Virginia.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Jay Gaidmore

Library of Virginia
Accession number
James H. Latimer Papers, 1864-2000
Physical Characteristics
ca. 18 cubic feet (39 boxes)
Physical Location
Personal Papers Collection, Acc. 37623

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Serve microfilm of newspapers rather than originals.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

James H. Latimer Papers, 1864-2000. Accession 37623, Personal papers collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of James D. Latimer, 20 August 2000.

Biographical/Historical Information

James Howe Latimer was born in Nashville, Tennessee on 17 June 1913 to Hugh Darington and Ollie Mai Howe Latimer. His grandfather, James Howard Latimer, born in Culverton, Georgia on 24 December 1843 and died in 1934, served with Company I of the 49th Georgia Infantry during the Civil War and was active in the United Confederate Veterans after the war.

Latimer attended the Baylor School, a military preparatory school, in Chattanooga, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Chattanooga in 1935. He studied history and economics at the University of Chattanooga and served as editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. As a senior in 1934, he joined the Chattanooga Times as a police reporter and church editor, earning $15 a week.

He worked as a reporter and copy editor for the Chattanooga Times until 1937 when he was hired as a reporter at the Richmond Times- Dispatch, beginning a career that spanned six decades. From 1937-1943, Latimer was a reporter and acting state editor. During World War II, he served in the United States Army from 1943-1945, first in the infantry and later in the overseas branch of the Office of War Information. After the war, Latimer resumed working at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. His principal assignment involved covering Virginia politics, state government, the governor's office, legislative sessions, and state and national political conventions. In addition to his duties for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Latimer was also the principal Virginia correspondent for Time,Life, and Fortune magazines and wrote an occasional article on Virginia politics for the New York Herald Tribune and Baltimore Sun. He also contributed to Sports Illustrated, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the University of Virginia News Letter, and the Commonwealth Magazine.

From the mid-1970's to the late 1980's, Latimer, in cooperation with Central Virginia Educational Television (the local PBS affiliate) and the Richmond Times- Dispatch, wrote and hosted "The Living History Makers," a series of programs in which former governors and other politicians of Virginia, including William M. Tuck, Colgate W. Darden, J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., Mills E. Godwin, Jr., Albertis S. Harrison, Harry F. Byrd, Jr., Henry E. Howell, Jr., A. Linwood Holton, and John N. Dalton, reminisced about Virginia politics. Considered the dean of Virginia's political reporters, Latimer received the George Mason Award from the Richmond chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 1979 for outstanding contributions to Virginia journalism, and was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1987, the University of Virginia, with a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor, started the James H. Latimer Endowed Fellowship Fund to support graduate studies in government.

Although retired in 1981, Latimer continued to enlighten readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch with columns and articles noted for taking a long view of Virginia politics. His last article, an interview with Harry F. Byrd, Jr. containing advice for the Virginia Republican Party on their new legislative majority, was published in December 1999.

Latimer married Anna Mary McCrary (3 September 1915 - 16 June 1993) on 28 September 1938 and had one son, James Darington Latimer, born 27 December 1941. James Howe Latimer died on 7 April 2000 after a brief illness.

Scope and Content Information

Papers, 1864-2000 (bulk 1934-2000), of James H. Latimer, Richmond Times-Dispatch political reporter and columnist. Includes annual reports, articles, book reviews, broadsides, bumper stickers, cartoons, clippings, correspondence, editorials, election results, greeting cards, magazines, maps, memoirs, memorandums, newsletters, newspapers, notes, obituaries, photographs, press releases, programs, program scripts, rough drafts, scrapbooks, and speeches primarily relating to Virginia and national politics, national, state, and local elections, journalism, and Virginia history.

Series I: Correspondence, 1864-2000 (bulk 1934-2000) - Includes correspondence to and from family and friends, general correspondence involving Latimer's professional life, and greeting cards. The family correspondence consists of letters to and from his wife, Anna Latimer, 1935-1937, 1959-1984, his sister, Dorothy Latimer, 1935-1984, and his son, James D. Latimer, 1966-1991. The wife's and sister's letters primarily contain references to family news and happenings at home in Richmond, Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The majority of his son's letters were sent from college, and while serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam and living in California in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He primarily discusses the various ports visited, day to day happenings, sports, and job prospects. The family correspondence also includes two Civil War letters of Alpheus W. Latimer of Company I, 49th Georgia Infantry, dated 6 March 1864 and 7 February 1865; a letter, dated 6 November 1918, written by Fred H. Latimer from France during World War I in which he discusses German POW's, fighting, and peace talks; a letter dated 14 May 1922 of H. D. Latimer; and a letter dated 19 October 1928, from "FEMcM" to Mr. Latimer containing a photograph. The friends correspondence consists of letters from Jerome Alper, 1934-1937, Madison Bratton, 1934-1935, 1953, 1962, Howard Nelson, 1934-1935, and H. Leonard, 1951-1952. Jerome Alper's and Howard Nelson's letters describe their experiences in school in Chicago, Illinois, while Madison Bratton's letters describe his experiences in school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The general correspondence, 1935-2000, primarily relates to Latimer's professional life, but does include letters of a personal nature. Includes correspondence concerning Virginia politics, work done for Time, Inc., Latimer's graduate school application to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a series of articles written about the Tennessee Valley Authority as a reporter at the Chattanooga Times, being hired at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, retirement, participation in panel discussions, seminars, and workshops, Latimer's reaction to being converted to an editorial writer, a job inquiry at a newspaper in Sanford, Florida, book reviews, Massive Resistance, Latimer's dispute with the editors of the Richmond Times- Dispatch in January 1981, and politicians. Also includes congratulatory letters received on articles well written, congratulatory letters sent, memorandums about the political news coverage of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and invitations. Attached to some of the letters are notes and rough drafts of articles, and book excerpts from authors and publishers requesting a critique from Latimer. Of note is a letter from Francis Pickens Miller to C. Vann Woodward regarding J. Harvie Wilkinson, III's book, Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics in which he criticizes Wilkinson for having a slanted view and not interviewing him. The greeting cards include Birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, and Get Well cards. Notable correspondents include: J. Lindsay Almond, Gerald Baliles, Staige D. Blackford, J. Stewart Bryan, III, D. Tennant Bryan, Harry F. Byrd, Jr., Harry F. Byrd, Sr., Thomas T. Byrd, J. Marshall Coleman, Virginius Dabney, Paul Duke, Guy Friddell, Mills Godwin, Albertis Harrison, Linwood Holton, Allan R. Jones, V. C. Jones, Sidney Kellam, John Leard, Carter Lowance, William Manchester, Andy McCutcheon, Charles McDowell, Andrew Pickens Miller, Francis Pickens Miller, Benjamin Muse, Neil R. Pearce, A. L. Philpott, Parke Rouse, Jr., Chuck Robb, A. Willis Robertson, Larry Sabato, Paul Saunier, William B. Spong, Harold Sugg, Marie Tyler-McGraw, William C. Wampler, and E. H. Williams, Jr.

Series II: The Living History Makers, 1975-1988 - Includes background material, clippings, correspondence, notes, photographs for the Darden-Tuck series, program scripts, transcripts of interviews with A. Linwood Holton, John N. Dalton, Albertis S. Harrison, and Mills E. Godwin, Jr., and accompanying articles published in the Richmond Times- Dispatch, relating to "The Living History Makers," a series of programs produced by Central Virginia Educational Television and the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which Virginia's former governors and other politicians were interviewed about Virginia's post-World War II political history. The programs included: Colgate W. Darden and William M. Tuck, 1975-1976; J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., 1979-1980; Albertis S. Harrison and Mills E. Godwin, Jr., "Harrison, Godwin, and the 1960's," 1981-1982; A. Linwood Holton and John N. Dalton, "A Different Dominion: The Republican Renaissance," 1986- 1987; and Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and Henry E. Howell, Jr., "The Independents," 1987- 1988. Also includes material for a series with Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and A. Linwood Holton that was never produced.

Series III: Subject Files - Arranged alphabetically, this series consists of files for persons, events, elections, gubernatorial addresses, political conventions, seminars, subjects, and form of material. Containing articles written by Latimer and others, book reviews, campaign materials, correspondence, clippings, election results, memorandums, maps, newsletters, obituaries, programs, reports, rough drafts, and speeches, these files primarily related to Virginia politics and history. Of note are the files on Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and Sr., David Mays and his secret diaries, the memoirs of Mills E. Godwin, Jr., Ellen Glasgow and the 1921 Gubernatorial election, prohibition in Virginia, William M. Tuck's birthday tribute, the 200th bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, the Virginia General Assembly, and a copy of an address by Lyndon Baines Johnson on which Latimer made notes of Harry F. Byrd, Sr.'s reaction after almost every major point LBJ touched upon (filed under press releases). This series also includes files of a personal nature including genealogical information on the Howe, Latimer, and McCrary families, material from the Baylor School, schoolwork as a student at the University of Chattanooga, sympathy cards, obituaries, and clippings regarding the death of James Howard Latimer, material on travel, the memorial program from the funeral of Anna McCrary Latimer, and an account book of Ollie Mai Howe Latimer for the Circle #4 Auxiliary.

Series IV: Publications - Includes histories of Arlington, Brunswick, King William, and Westmoreland Counties, Virginia, and Leesburg, Virginia, employee newsletters of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Media General, Inc., issues of the Commonwealth,Life,Look,New Yorker,Time,Today in Virginia,University of Virginia Newsletter,Virginia Cavalcade,Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,Virginia Record, and Washington Post Magazine, and publications relating to the Civil War, Davy Crockett, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Joseph McCarthy, the Republican Party, George Wythe, Richmond's newspapers, and Richmond's architecture. Also includes various newspapers such as the Daily Richmond Examiner (front page fragment, 25 September 1863), Gazette-Virginian (South Boston, Va.) - Tobacco Edition, 18 Sept. 1975), Richmond Afro-American and The Richmond Planet (Centennial Edition, 29 January 1983), Richmond Dispatch (1868-1898), Richmond News Leader,Richmond Times-Dispatch,New York Times,Camden County Tribune, and Stevenson (Ala.) Chronicle. Some of these publications are located in oversize. Also, due to the poor condition of some of the newspapers researchers should use the microfilm.

Series V: Writings, 1937-1994 - Consists of articles and Sunday columns Latimer wrote during his long career, including many rough drafts. Also includes two scrapbooks of Latimer articles, and a copy of the widely quoted, "Virginia Politics, 1950-1960" written in 1961.

Series VI: Photographs - Includes photographs of Latimer accepting the George Mason Award, being inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, and at work in the newsroom, on the campaign trail, at press conferences, in the State Capital, and during sessions of the General Assembly. Also includes photographs of national and Virginia politicians, Virginia General Assembly sessions (1972, 1973, 1975, 1979), the National Tobacco Festival (1957), the Reynolds Metal Company Headquarters Building (1958), Virginia Supreme Court (1974), members of Virginia's 1901-1902 Constitutional Convention, and the Conference of Chief Justices (1950). Of note is a panoramic photograph of an unidentified group or company.


This collection is organized into the following six series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Living History Makers; Series III: Subject Files; Series IV: Publications; Series V: Writings; Series VI: Photographs.

Contents List

Series I: Correspondence, 1864-2000
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Series II: Living History Makers
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Series III: Subject Files
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Series IV: Publications
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Series V: Writings
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Series VI: Photographs
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