Collection Summary

Creator: McReynolds, James Clark
Title: The Papers of Justice James Clark McReynolds 1819-1967
Accession: MSS 85-1
Description: 3.1 shelf feet (ca. 2800 items); 8 boxes
Location: Special Collections
Photograph Collection: View 7 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 23 objects
Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions.

Collection Description & Arrangement

 This collection consists of about 3.1 shelf feet (ca. 2800 items) and includes Justice McReynolds' professional, financial, personal, and genealogical papers spanning the years 1819-1967. The professional papers contain correspondence, opinions, memoranda and notes principally from McReynolds' years in the Justice Department. For the Supreme Court years there is a relatively small body of correspondence as well as the printed material and miscellaneous notes regarding the "Gold Clause Cases." In addition to the private correspondence, there are records of financial transactions, newspaper clippings, genealogical records, notebooks, election broadsides, photographs, and printed material about Justice McReynolds.

The papers have been arranged in the following order: professional correspondence and papers, including opinions and memoranda; personal correspondence and papers including speeches, business papers, newspaper clippings, photographs, guest lists, recipes, and miscellaneous papers and printed material; family correspondence and genealogical material concerning the McReynolds and Edwards families; and printed material about Justice McReynolds.

Biographical & Historical Information

James Clark McReynolds was born on February 3, 1862, in Elkton, Todd County, Kentucky. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University in 1882, where he was elected valedictorian and served as editor-in-chief of The Vanderbilt Observer. Upon graduation, he commenced the study of law at the University of Virginia where he obtained a law degree in 1884. His formal education completed, McReynolds embarked upon a lucrative private law practice in Nashville while teaching law at Vanderbilt University. In 1903, however, he moved to Washington, D.C. and became Assistant Attorney General, a position he held until 1912. During this period his vigorous prosecution of the "tobacco trust" bolstered his reputation among progressive reform groups. Active in Woodrow Wilson's successful presidential campaign in 1912, he was appointed Attorney General after briefly practicing law in New York City.

In 1914, Wilson appointed McReynolds to the United States Supreme Court where he served until his retirement in 1941. Justice McReynolds died in 1946.

Acquisition Information

Date Received 1950
Donor Information The papers were originally given to the University of Virginia Library on October 16, 1950 by the justice's nephew, James O. McReynolds of Los Angeles, California.

Content List

Box 1:

  • Professional Correspondence 1905-1945, n.d. [3 folders]. Correspondents include Theodore Roosevelt, Charles J. Bonaparte, George W. Wickersham, Frances Lynch Stetson, William R. Harr, Horace H. Lurton, J. P. Tumulty, Franklin K. Lane, and Woodrow Wilson.
  • JCM to Mr. S.S. Gregory 1905 April 5. (Mss 85-1b)
  • Opinions, Memoranda and Notes 1911-1914. Primarily anti-trust cases; also includes printed copies of JCM's first four Supreme Court opinions.
  • Opinions 1935. Opinions concern the Gold Clause Cases.
  • Miscellaneous Papers 1930's-1940's.  Papers concern the Gold Clause Cases
  • Robert P. McReynolds Correspondence 1898, 1918-1945, n.d. [2 folders]

Box 2:

  • Personal Correspondence 1885-1946, n.d. [3 folders]
  • Letters from JCM 25 Oct., 22 Nov. (Mss 85-1a)
  • Correspondence, 1946. Concerns illness and death of JCM.
  • Business Papers 1885-1927.  [includes two letters from John B. Minor, 1895]

Box 3:

  • Business Papers 1928-1945, n.d. 
  • Address Book and Appointment Books 1946, n.d.
  • Speeches 1882-1889
  • College Papers 1884
  • Guest Lists 1916-1941
  • Recipes, n.d.
  • Election Broadsides, 1896
  • Newspaper Clippings, 1900-1945
  • Memorials to JCM, 1946
  • Virginia Law Review dedicated to JCM 1946 Aug.

Box 4:

  • Miscellaneous Printed Materials and Papers, n.d.
  • McReynolds Family Correspondence, 1830-1967
  • Transcripts and Photostats of McReynolds Family Correspondence, 1819-1937
  • Correspondence 1897-1933, n.d. [3 folders].  Concerns the McReynolds Family Genealogy.

Box 5:

  • Correspondence and Documents 1938-1940, n.d.  Concerns the Edwards Family
  • McReynolds Genealogical Papers, n.d. [4 folders]
  • JCM's Genealogical Notebooks,  n.d. [2 items]
  • Correspondence and Documents, 1942-1947, n.d.  Items concern the Pearson Memorial Tablet.
  • Blueprints of the Pearson Memorial Tablet, 1942

Box 6:

  • Correspondence 1950-1951.  Items concern the acquisition of the McReynolds Papers.
  • Published and unpublished material. Material from James Bond, Stirling Price Gilbert, Ronald F. Howell, and Calvin P. Jones.

Box 7:

  • Published and unpublished material. Material from John B. McCraw and Donald Whisenhunt
  • Judicial Memoirs. Memoirs of JCM, Pierce Butler, John Marshall Harlan, Joseph Rucker Lamar, and Edward Terry Sanford.
  • The Story of Todd Country, Kentucky, 1820-1970, by Marion Williams.

Box 8:

  • Who's Who in America 1911 September, 13 June. (MSS 85-1c). Form filled out by JCM, with editor's corrections; JCM signature.
  • James Clark McReynolds and the Judicial Process, 1954.  Unpublished dissertation by Stephen Early


Associated People

Use Policy

Access There are no restrictions.
Use Restrictions There are no restrictions.
Preferred Citation

Inventory of the Papers of Justice James Clark Reynolds, Mss 85-1, University of Virginia Law Library, Charlottesville, VA 22903

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