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1963 – 1979
Manuscripts & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library
Processed by: Philip N. Williams, 1998
James Ernest Farmer was born in Sandusky, Ohio, on January 28, 1919. His family moved to Indianapolis when he was five-months old. Farmer attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and received a B.S. degree in journalism from Butler University. He was married to Marjorie E. Guion of Indianapolis on May 4, 1946. During World War II, Farmer was an Army correspondent in Italy, France, and Germany. He took part in the invasion at Salerno, Italy, as a member of the enlisted staff of G-2, Headquarters, 36th Infantry Division. Service continued later in Algeria, France, and Germany. He left the Army a Technical Sergeant.
Farmer was a member of the editorial staff of The Indianapolis Star for twelve years and State House reporter during the second administration of Governor Henry F. Schricker, eventually becoming Night City Editor of the newspaper. Farmer was information director of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce from 1958 to 1965, overseeing a daily reporting service on the actions of the Indiana General Assembly. From 1965 to 1969, he was the chief assistant to Governor Roger D. Branigin; and, from 1977 to 1978, he was co-chairman of a Resources Board which served the Select Committee on Centennial History of the General Assembly. He concluded his professional career as senior vice-president of the public relations firm of Howard S. Wilcox, where he was involved in lobbying efforts at the Indiana General Assembly. Farmer was a member of the Indianapolis Press Club (and was informally regarded as the club’s historian), a past president of the Indianapolis Literary Club, and the founding president of Indiana Friends of the Archives. He died on September 30, 1994, in Indianapolis.
Information Found within Collection
With the exception of one item, the materials in folder 1, dating from 1967 to 1979, concern the authorship of the poem “Passing of the Backhouse,” which has on occasion been attributed to James Whitcomb Riley. The one exception to that subject matter, a letter of 1963, concerns the experience of Glenn Tucker, author Dawn Like Thunder, and his wife with the librarians of a library in Tripoli, Libya.
The materials in folder 2 are James Farmer’s documentation of two attempts at amending the Indiana Constitution, one successful, one unsuccessful. The successful campaign, documented by the first three items in the collection, ended with the people of Indiana ratifying a new judicial article for the Indiana Constitution on November 3, 1970, which caused the adoption of a merit system for selection and tenure of appellate-level judges. The new article, which became operative on January 1, 1972, also lodged powers in the Indiana Supreme Court for retirement, censure, and removal affecting all judges in Indiana and made Justice of Peace courts creatures of the Indiana General Assembly. The unsuccessful campaign for an amendment to the Indiana Constitution is documented by a report of November 7, 1978, concerning a proposed constitutional change to lift the two consecutive term limit on the election of county sheriffs.
Manuscript material CANNOT be photocopied or digitized in its entirety. Photocopies and/or digital reproductions (i.e. scans, digital photographs) cannot exceed 25% of a COLLECTION or FOLDER within a collection. In some cases, photocopying may not be permitted due to the condition of the item. Please check with the Manuscript Librarian for possible alternatives.
Folder and Item Listing:
Folder 1. (all of the following are photocopies)
1963 One-page article on courtesies of the library in Tripoli, as observed by Glenn Tucker and his wife
1965, May 5 TLS, from William E. Hanck to the Indiana State Library, inquiry about a copy of the poem “Passing of the Backhouse,” by Dr. Cooper of Ohio
1967, Feb. 1 Newspaper column with by-line “Robert McMorris” from Omaha World-Herald, entitled “Omahan Disputes Riley Authorship,” on authorship of poem “Passing of the Backhouse”
1967, Feb. 13 Newspaper column “The Things I Hear,” by Lowell Nussbaum, relates McMorris story and adds alternative explanation of authorship
1967, Feb. 13 TLS, from John W. Hillman, Executive Secretary of James Whitcomb Riley Memorial Association, to Lowell Nussbaum
1967, Feb. 17 Newspaper column “The Things I Hear,” by Lowell Nussbaum, reporting statement of John W. Williams [sic] above and adding information from Miss Lesley Paine, Riley’s niece
1972, Oct. 28 TLS, from H. Allen Smith to Jim [Farmer]
1972, Nov. 6 TLS, from James E. Farmer to Allen [Smith]; speaks of evidence Riley did not write “Passing of the Backhouse” [John W. Hillman’s letter?]
1975, Nov. 18 TLS, from Allen [Smith] to “Dear Jim” [Farmer]. With bar room story and column “Americana” from Signature magazine (published by Diners Club), “The Privy Papers,” by H. Allen Smith, on “Passing of the Backhouse.”
1979, June 28 TLS, from James E. Farmer to G. Harvey Petty
1970, Nov. 19 Newsletter of Indiana Citizens for Modern Courts of Appeal, headlined “Judicial Article Is Ratified by Indiana Voters,” (2 copies of newsletter)
1970, Nov. 23 Article, “The Indiana Judicial Campaign: How Ratification of the ‘Merit Plan’ Was Won; The Genesis of the Indiana Proposal; Organization for Education and Advocacy,” by James E. Farmer (12 pages in length)
1971, Mar. Article, “Indiana Modernizes Its Courts,” by James E. Farmer, from Judicature, vol. 54, no. 8. (4 pages in length)
1978, Dec. 5 Release of Howard S. Wilcox, Inc., “Sheriff-Term [lifting of two consecutive term limit] Amendment Rejected by Indiana Voters.”
Size of Collection: 2 folders
Collection Dates: 1963 – 1979
Access: The Collection is Open for Research Use
Reproduction Rights: Permission to reproduce, exhibit, or publish material in this collection must be obtained from the Manuscripts and Rare Books Division, Indiana State Library.
Language: Materials are entirely in: English
Related Holdings: S2523 James Farmer; S2851 James Farmer
MA BA 4-19-2013