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John R. Neal Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-1126

  • Staff Only

The John R. Neal papers consist of more than 10,000 separate items including family correspondence, books, memorabilia from Neal's political campaigns, and other related materials. The papers cover approximately 100 years, from around the 1850s to 1959. The dual nature of Neal's personality is reflected in this collection. Neal saved everything he could over the years, both important and trivial. His involvement in important affairs is reflected in correspondence with important figures of the day, papers related to matters like the Scopes Trial, and items pertaining to the 1924 gubernatorial campaign. His love of history and respect for his relatives is shown in the correspondence he kept between members of the family. His eccentric personality is represented by the trivia he accumulated along with the many collection notices and canceled checks.

Dates

  • 1850-1959

Language of Materials

English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (5 record boxes)

Abstract

The John R. Neal papers consist of more than 10,000 separate items including family correspondence, books, memorabilia from Neal's political campaigns, and other related materials. The papers cover approximately 100 years, from around the 1850s to 1959.

Biographical/Historical Note

John O'Brien Neal (who changed his name to John Randolph Neal after his father's death in 1889) was born to John Randolph and Mary Elizabeth Caroline (Brown) Neal in Rhea Springs, Tennessee on September 17, 1876. He earned his AB degree from the University of Tennessee in 1893, his LLB and AM degrees from Vanderbilt University in 1896, and his PhD degree from Columbia University in 1899. Neal taught law at the University of Denver (1899-1908) before coming to the University of Tennessee in 1909. He taught until 1923, when he was purged in the so-called “Slaughter of the PhDs” partially because of his forgetfulness and unorthodox nature. After being dismissed from the university, Neal founded his own law school, John Randolph Neal College of Law, in Knoxville. He also participated in a number of civil liberties trials, most famously serving as the chief defense council in 1925 Scopes Trial. He also drew attention to the Crump political machine and helped to found the Tennessee Valley Authority. Although his students admired and respected him, Neal's school closed in 1943 (in part due to his increasing eccentricity). He died on November 23, 1959.

Arrangement

Collection consists of four boxes divided into five series:

  1. Series I: Family Papers
  2. Series II: Relatives' Papers and Financial Records
  3. Series III: The Scopes Trial and Political Career
  4. Series IV: Accomplishments and holdings (assets)
  5. Series V: Other material

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480