James W. Putnam Papers

Summary Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives
Putnam, James W.
James W. Putnam Papers
Circa 1929-1932
0.25 Linear feet
James Putnam's high school scrapbook.

Preferred Citation note

James W. Putnam Papers, Emporia State University Archives, Emporia State University.

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James Wesley Putnam

James Wesley Putnam was born August 4, 1914, in Topeka to Harry Wells and Clara Louise Gibson Putnam. He graduated from Topeka High School in 1932. As a student he served as president of the Entre Nous Club and the Hi-Y Club, an organization related to the Young Men’s Christian Association. He was a member of the Student Council, Debate Club, and the national organization Quill and Scroll, Arthur J. Carruth Chapter. James also served as club editor for The Topeka High School World newspaper and the memorial publication  Sixty-Two Years of History in the Topeka High School. James was inducted into the Topeka High School Historical Society Hall of Fame as part of their 1997/1998 ceremony. James attended Kansas State Teachers College and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1935 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936. He was a member of the Student Council and the Young Men’s Christian Association and served as president of both organizations. In 1935 he was selected as the first recipient of the Thomas M. Iden Scholarship, named in honor of the founder of the Upper Room Bible Class. He wrote a brief history of his benefactors titled   Emporia’s Upper Room. James also attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence where he earned a Master of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor of Laws degree. James worked as an attorney in Emporia, Kansas. One of his accomplishments was the discovery of E. J. Alexander’s will, which allowed for the creation of Camp Alexander, an area of over 80 acres opened to the public for recreational activities. In 1941 James was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, District 46, as a Republican.

James enlisted in the United States Army in July, 1942. That fall he was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and worked within the personnel classification system. In December 1942 he was promoted to Corporal and transferred to the Transportation Corps Officer Cadet School at Mississippi State College in Starkville, Mississippi. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on February 2, 1943. James was stationed in Chicago, Illinois, with the Army’s 6th Transportation Corps. In February, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. James served as Intelligence, Public Relations and Labor Relations Officer on the staff of the Chief of Transportation for the European Theater of Operations, which was headquartered in England. Later that fall he was stationed in England. In April, 1945, he was promoted to the rank of Major and by June was stationed in Paris, France. After the war James resumed practice as an attorney in Emporia, and retired in 1989, completing 50 years of practice to the day. He was Emporia city attorney for ten years, and city attorney of Madison for 29 years. In 1940 he organized the Parade of Progress in Emporia, with William Allen White as guest of honor. He was also the Jaycee Man of the Year in 1940. James served as chairman of the Camp Alexander board of directors for 15 years. In 1963 he was recognized by the Emporia Gazette as a “Man of the Week.” In 1967 he began serving on the Emporia State Bank and Trust company’s board of directors. James was a founder of the Emporia State University Endowment Association, and had been on the executive board since 1952. He was very active in the Kiwanis organization, and helped establish the Emporia Key Club, the Kansas Kiwanis Foundation, and the Kansas District of Kiwanis International.

The influence of the Thomas M. Iden Scholarship which James had received in 1935 continued throughout his life. In 1954 James attended a reunion of the members of the Upper Room Bible Class, and from that time he became more active in promoting the ideals of Iden. He worked on establishing the Iden Upper Room Scholarship, which was financed by donations from previous recipients of the Thomas M. Iden Scholarship. James was active in fundraising for the scholarships, and also worked with William H. Singular and Victor T. Trusler on the establishment of the Iden Meditation Upper Room in the men’s dormitory on the campus of Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia in 1966.

James died December 3, 1997, and was buried in Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Emporia. He was survived by his wife, Wanda Lang Putnam, and their children Larry, Richard, and Linda.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of 7 loose-leaf scrapbook pages. These pages contain newspaper clippings, programs, letters, receipts, tickets, and other memorabilia that reflect the activities and accomplishments of James W. Putnam as a student at Topeka High School. Activities include membership in the Service Club, Debate Club, and Hi-Y. Accomplishments include honor roll recognitions, service on the Student Council, nomination and acceptance into Quill and Scroll, and National Press Association honors for the school newspaper that he contributed to as Club Editor.

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Arrangement note

Original order as found in collection maintained.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives June 2006

1200 Commercial St
Campus Box 4051
Emporia, KS, 66801
(620) 341-6431

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Sunflower (1934-1935) contain photographs and activity information about James Putnam as a student at Kansas State Teachers College.  The Alumni News (1942-1945) contains information about his military service during World War II. In 1935 he published  Emporia’s Upper Room which chronicled the history of Dr. Thomas Iden’s efforts to establish the Upper Room and work with the students of Kansas State Teachers College. A copy of this publication is available as part of the Iden Collection; a second copy is available for public check-out at William Allen White Library. The Iden Collection also contains correspondence between James Putnam and others. These items generally refer to the book, scholarships, and memories of Dr. Iden. James co-authored three books while a student at the University of Kansas. These books, published between 1939 and 1941, are also available at William Allen White Library on the Emporia State University campus.

Separated Materials note


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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Students.

Personal Name(s)

  • Putnam, James W.


  • Scrapbooks -- Kansas -- Topeka

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Scrapbook pages, circa 1929-1932. 

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