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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601630

Eldon R. (Eldon Revare) James papers relating to his position as Adviser in Foreign Affairs to the Siamese Government

Scope and Contents

The papers of Eldon Revare James contain close to 350 personal letters that Dr. and Mrs. James sent to their respective families and close family friends in the U.S., depicting every detail of their official and unofficial life in Bangkok, and their impressions of the country and its people; official correspondence, primarily between Dr. James and Prince Devawongse, the Minister for Foreign Affairs; and some miscellaneous correspondence and other items relating to their connection with Siam.

The papers cover mainly the years 1918 to 1924, with a few items dated earlier and later.


  • 1917-1935

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.


3 boxes

Historical/Biographical Information

James, Eldon Revare, Professor of Law.

b. Newport, Kentucky, Nov. 21, 1875.

B.S., U. of Cincinnati, 1896; LL.B., 1899.

S.J.D., Harvard, 1912.

m. Phila W. Smith, Dec. 28, 1904.

Practiced law in Cincinnati, 1899-1911.

Instructor and Professor of Law, Cincinnati Law School (U. of Cincinnati), 1902-1912.

Prof. of Law, U. of Wisconsin, 1912-1913.

Prof. of Law, U. of Minnesota, 1913-1914.

Dean, Law School, U. of Missouri, 1914-1918.

Advisor in Foreign Affairs to the Siamese Government, 1918-1924.

Judge, Supreme Court of Siam, 1919-1924.

Prof. of Law and Librarian, Harvard Law School, 1923-1942.

Law Librarian of Congress, 1943-1946.

d. June 2, 1949.


  1. Series I: Personal Correspondence: Eldon R. James, 1918-1923. 8 folders.1918-1923.

    This Series consists almost entirely of letters written by Eldon to his mother. The letters include descriptions of Bangkok, general information about Siam and its people, his and Phila’s daily activities, special events that he attended, and trips that he and Phila took.

  2. Series II: Personal Correspondence: Phila S. James, 1917-1923. 21 folders.1917-1923

    This Series consists primarily of letters written by Phila to her mother, although some are also addressed to Alma and Wilson, who were also family members. The letters include detailed descriptions of life in Bangkok, impressions of other Westerners in Siam, accounts of the servants who lived and worked in their house, and descriptions of Phila’s metal work. All of Phila’s letters contain updates on the weather and on Eldon’s and her health, as well as inquiries into the health of those she was writing to. Her later letters contain much less description of her surroundings and more about her own activities and her desire to return home.

  3. Series III: Official and General Correspondence, 1918-1935. 4 folders.1918-1935

    This Series consists mainly of correspondence between Eldon James and various Siamese officials, both during and after his employment as Advisor in Foreign Affairs. The correspondence after his employment contains detailed descriptions of a 1932 coup that resulted in the creation of a constitutional monarchy in Siam, as well as the King’s abdication two years later. These accounts are particularly valuable as they are written from the point of view of a member of the Siamese royal family.

  4. Series IV: Miscellany, 1918-1933. 7 folders.1918-1933

    This Series includes miscellaneous materials related to Eldon and Phila James and their time in Siam. Materials include certificates naming Eldon James to various royal orders, notes about Siam, James’s passport used for his and Phila’s return to the United States, a diary kept by Phila, typescripts, postcards, and correspondence.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Eldon Revare James, law professor, law librarian, and expert in the field of international law, were found in the attic of the Hotel Beaconsfield in Brookline when this Hotel was being torn down. They had been stored there by Dr. James' widow, Phila Smith James, who had since died. They were turned over to the Harvard Law School Library in the 1960's.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika Chadbourn, March 1969. Reprocessed by Erica Bicchieri, 2003.

James, Eldon R. (Eldon Revare). Papers Relating to his Position as Adviser in Foreign Affairs to the Siamese Government, 1918-1935: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, MA 02138
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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