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James E. Farmer collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S0043

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, articles, and research documents compiled by James E. Farmer from 1963 to 1982. The collection includes Farmer's articles about the Indiana judicial campaign of 1970 and the Sheriff-Term Amendment proposal of 1978; correspondence with Jerry Handfield, Indiana State Library librarian, regarding the oral history project; correspondence and "session sketches" for the Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly; a 1978 profile of the Indiana Bar by Farmer; and a copy of a May 19, 1982 speech given to the Indianapolis Bar Association by Benjamin R. Cole.

Items of special note are the May 4, 1978 story about Karl Kizer, former curator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, titled "Auto Racing's History Told by Motor Speedway Museum" and written by Farmer; the original 1958 manuscript for the article "The Reporter" written by Hilton U. Brown; correspondence and documents regarding the authorship of "Passing of the Backhouse", a poem sometimes attributed to James Whitcomb Riley, and a copy of the November 1975 article "The Privy Papers" by H. Allen Smith; Farmer's 1980 essay "The Legislature's 'Third House' - Lobbyists"; a copy of "American Lobby Past and Present", a 1934 college paper by Eugene L. Behmer; and correspondence from August, 1976 between Farmer and Lieutenant Governor Robert D. Orr regarding Ratliff Boon, including Orr's humorous letter addressed to Boon in Heaven.


  • 1934-1982, bulk 1970-1982


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

James Ernest Farmer was born on January 28, 1919 in Sandusky, Ohio to Earl and Rae Farmer. His family moved to Indianapolis before he was a year old. Farmer attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and received a B.S. degree in journalism from Butler University. During World War II, he was an Army correspondent in Italy, France, and Germany and was awarded the Bronze Star. He married Marjorie Elizabeth Guion (1920-2011) on May 4, 1946 and they had two children.

Farmer worked for the Indianapolis Star as a reporter, columnist, and night city editor from 1945 to 1958. He reported on politics and the Indiana General Assembly and wrote the weekly column That Reminds Me. He was the public information director for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce from 1958 to 1965 and was the chief assistant to Governor Roger D. Branigin from 1965 to 1969. He then became vice president of the public relations firm Howard S. Wilcox Inc. and remained at the firm until 1987. From 1987 to 1990 he worked as a lobbyist for the Indiana State Bar Association. He was a member of the Indianapolis Press Club and was editor of the club's 25th anniversary book, Dateline: Indiana. He served as co-chairman of the Resources Board of the Select Committee on a Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly (1977-1978), was a member of the Indianapolis Literary Club and was the founding president of Indiana Friends of the Archives, Inc. Mr. Farmer died at the age of 75 on September 30, 1994.

Sources: "James E. Farmer." 1920 United States Federal Census. Accessed June 26, 2017. "James E. Farmer." Indiana Death Certificates, 1899-2011. Accessed June 24, 2017.

"James Farmer Had Been Governor's Aid, Journalist." Indianapolis Star (IN), October 4, 1994.

"Marjorie E. Farmer." Indianapolis Star (IN), January 9, 2011.

Thompson, Donald E., comp. Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1967-1980. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1981.


0.04 Cubic Feet (2 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically and by date of donation by James E. Farmer.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as donations from James E. Farmer from 1963 to 1982.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed in 1999 by Philip N. Williams. Collection reprocessed 2017/06/28 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2017/06/28 by Laura Eliason.
James E. Farmer collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.