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John Knox Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS342

Scope and Contents

The John Knox Papers represent the personal papers of John Knox, who served as law clerk and private secretary for Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds during the October 1936 term. Most notably, the collection includes portions of Knox's typed memoir detailing his experiences during the 1936 Supreme Court term, along with letters, documents, and photographs of Supreme Court justices during the 1930s. Moreover, as Knox was an avid collector, his papers contain an extensive set of letters from the 1920s and 1930s from Union and Confederate Civil War veterans and a fair amount of correspondence with survivors and relatives of those who fought German fighter ace Manfred Baron von Richthofen during World War I. Personal correspondence of Knox, photographs, and Knox family material round out the collection. The John Knox Papers are stored in 24 archival boxes (36 linear feet).


  • 1826 - 1992
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical note

Born in 1907, John Knox was educated at Oak Park [Illinois] High School, the University of Chicago (Ph. B. 1930), Northwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1934), and the Harvard Law School (LL.M. 1936). He served as law clerk and personal secretary to Justice James Clark McReynolds during the October 1936 term of the United States Supreme Court. Later, as an attorney in Illinois, Knox represented Allstate Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Knox retired from the law in 1973. He was a member of the Bars of Illinois, New York, and of the Supreme Court of the United States. John Knox died in 1997.

[Sources: Brief biographical sketch of John Knox in the John Knox Papers: Box 20 Folder 29. Knox, John. "The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington." Edited and with a forward and afterword by Dennis J. Hutchinson and David J. Garrow. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Bond, James E. "I Dissent: The Legacy of Chief Justice James Clark McReynolds." Fairfax, VA: George Mason University Press, 1992.]


23 Cubic Feet (23 boxes and 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Processing Information

Oversized photographs were rehoused in 2024.

John Knox Papers
Scott S. Taylor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024-02: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057