Research Catalog

James S. Watson papers

Title
James S. Watson papers, 1913-1991 (bulk 1913-1952).
Author
Watson, James S., 1882-1952.

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14 Items

StatusContainerFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
box 1Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box 1Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box2Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box2Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box3Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box3Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box4Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box4Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box5Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box5Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box6Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box6Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box7Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box7Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box8Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box8Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box9Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box9Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box10Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box10Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box11Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box11Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box12Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box12Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box13Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box13Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
box14Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 464 box14Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives

Details

Additional Authors
  • Watson, Violet Lopez.
  • Watson, James L (James Lopez), 1922-2001.
  • Watson, Barbara Mae, 1918-1983.
  • McKay, Claude, 1890-1948.
  • Malliet, A. M. Wendell.
Description
5 lin. ft. (14 boxes)
Summary
The James S. Watson Papers, 1913-1991, document his career as a judge, his legal decisions and opinions, his numerous civic and community activities, and his personal and family life. The Papers consist of correspondence, legal documents, minutes, writings, financial records, clippings and printed material. The Personal Papers include biographical material and correspondence to and from family, friends, and acquaintances, both in Jamaica and the United States. Letters from son James to his parents while serving during World War II are located in the Personal Papers and the Family Papers series where additional family correspondence is filed. Although material prior to 1930 is sketchy, the Professional Series documents the entirety of Watson's working career and his electoral campaigns. Of special interest in this series are two files located in the General File sub-series which deal with cases filed by the Newspaper Guild of New York against The New York Amsterdam News in 1936 and 1937, respectively, regarding the firing of city editor Ted Poston and reporter Henry Lee Moon in 1936 and editor Obie McCullum and sports writer and theater critic Roi Ottley in 1937. On both occasions Watson acted as arbitrator. Watson's professional life is further documented in the Speeches and Writings series, as is his role in the Harlem and West Indian communities which is also recorded in the collection's Civic and Community Activities series. Overall, the Civic and Community Activities series contain correspondence, requests for aid, meeting notices, minutes and reports from the Harlem Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association, the Harlem Adult Education Committee and various labor and civil rights groups. The General File series contain requests for immigration and financial assistance as well as correspondence from Claude McKay and editor A.M.Wendell Malliet with whom Watson consulted regarding a projected autobiography.
Subjects
Genre/Form
Speeches, addresses, etc., American.
Note
  • Photographs transferred to Photographs and Prints Division.
  • Mirrored campaign button; miscellaneous art-related publications transferred to Art and Artifact Division.
  • Journals, pamphlets and miscellaneous printed literature transferred to General Research and Reference Division.
Source (note)
  • Watson Family
Biography (note)
  • James Watson was considered one of the most able jurists in 1930s-1950s New York and was a popular judge on the bench, lauded by the legal community and public alike. Born in 1882 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Watson emigrated to the United States in June, 1905. In 1908, while attending high school, Watson began work as a law clerk in the law offices of House, Grossman and Vorhaus. From the Fall of 1910 until 1913 Watson attended evening sessions at The City College of New York; during the same period he attended New York Law School from which he received the LL.B. in 1913. He was admitted to the New York State Bar on April 6, 1914 and admitted to practice, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, on May 1, 1914. Watson, by then head of the firm's Department of Corporation and Tax Laws, left House, Grossman and Vorhaus in 1920 and opened his own law practice. Soon after, Watson began to serve in New York City's Special Franchise Tax Division as a special assistant counsel.
  • In 1930, Watson successfully campaigned for Municipal Court judge in 1930 and along with running mate Charles E. Toney became one of the first two justices of African descent elected to judicial office in New York City. In this capacity, Watson became the first justice of African descent in Brooklyn to sit in judgment over white litigants. Several of the decisions Watson made in Municipal Court have made history in the annals of law, chief among them his 1934 ruling in Perry v. Norddeutscher Llyod (North German Llyod Steamship). Securing re-election by majority vote in 1940, Watson resigned his position in the Municipal Court ten years later to accept the presidency of the Municipal Civil Service Commission. The Commission's responsibilities included administering the civil service examination and recruiting qualified personnel for all departments of the city government. During his tenure, Watson won all legal actions brought against the Commission. He died in 1952 after a brief illness.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Finding aid available.
Call Number
Sc MG 464
OCLC
466878627
Author
Watson, James S., 1882-1952.
Title
James S. Watson papers, 1913-1991 (bulk 1913-1952).
Biography
James Watson was considered one of the most able jurists in 1930s-1950s New York and was a popular judge on the bench, lauded by the legal community and public alike. Born in 1882 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Watson emigrated to the United States in June, 1905. In 1908, while attending high school, Watson began work as a law clerk in the law offices of House, Grossman and Vorhaus. From the Fall of 1910 until 1913 Watson attended evening sessions at The City College of New York; during the same period he attended New York Law School from which he received the LL.B. in 1913. He was admitted to the New York State Bar on April 6, 1914 and admitted to practice, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, on May 1, 1914. Watson, by then head of the firm's Department of Corporation and Tax Laws, left House, Grossman and Vorhaus in 1920 and opened his own law practice. Soon after, Watson began to serve in New York City's Special Franchise Tax Division as a special assistant counsel.
In 1930, Watson successfully campaigned for Municipal Court judge in 1930 and along with running mate Charles E. Toney became one of the first two justices of African descent elected to judicial office in New York City. In this capacity, Watson became the first justice of African descent in Brooklyn to sit in judgment over white litigants. Several of the decisions Watson made in Municipal Court have made history in the annals of law, chief among them his 1934 ruling in Perry v. Norddeutscher Llyod (North German Llyod Steamship). Securing re-election by majority vote in 1940, Watson resigned his position in the Municipal Court ten years later to accept the presidency of the Municipal Civil Service Commission. The Commission's responsibilities included administering the civil service examination and recruiting qualified personnel for all departments of the city government. During his tenure, Watson won all legal actions brought against the Commission. He died in 1952 after a brief illness.
Indexes
Finding aid available.
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Finding Aid
Added Author
Watson, Violet Lopez.
Watson, James L (James Lopez), 1922-2001.
Watson, Barbara Mae, 1918-1983.
McKay, Claude, 1890-1948.
Malliet, A. M. Wendell.
Research Call Number
Sc MG 464
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