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James H. Rudy papers, 1923-1958, bulk 1952-1956

A Guide to the records at the Indiana University Archives

Electronic finding aid encoded by Beth Benda

Summary Information

Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-855-1127

Rudy, James H., 1909-1956.

James H. Rudy papers, 1923-1958,  bulk 1952-1956

Collection No.

1.2 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Materials are in English.

James H. Rudy is an Indiana University alumnus who was granted an AB in English in 1932. In his will Rudy left the bulk of his estate to Indiana University, which was used to begin and fund the Rudy Professorships to attract and retain outstanding faculty. Collection consists of papers brought together after Rudy's death by the Owensboro, Kentucky law firm Wilson and Wilson, who represented Rudy's friends and lawyer when his sister, Sarah Gray Rudy McNulty, contested his will. Collection includes notes, correspondence, journals and ledgers, depositions, and legal papers. The depositions include Rudy's family and friends in addition to Indiana University Vice President and Treasurer Joseph A. Prominent correspondents include Rudy's mother-in-law Grace Blair, his mother Katherine F. Rudy, his sister Sarah McNulty, and family friends Linda and Charles Boswell.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Advance notice is required.

Biographical Note

James H. Rudy was an Indiana University alumnus (1932) whose estate was used to establish the fund for the distinguished "Rudy Professors."

Born in 1909, James H. Rudy was raised in Owensboro, Kentucky near the Kentucky Indiana border where his family were farmers and coal company owners. James Rudy attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he was a promising but uneven student. His mother was adamant that he receive a college degree, so after graduating from high school, he entered Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Not happy at VMI, Rudy transferred to Indiana University to continue his studies. During the summer of 1929, he had a journalism internship at The Clarksdale Daily Register in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He graduated in 1932 after earning his A.B. in English.

After his graduation, Rudy returned to his parents’ home in Owensboro, Kentucky and began looking for a job. Around 1935 he tried his hand at journalism on the Paducah Sun-Democrat in Paducah, Kentucky. He married Virginia Blair, a former Indiana University student, in December 1935. They moved back to Owensboro, about 1941 to take up farming. Together they had three children: Sarah Pauline, Katherine Frances, and James Henry Rudy. In January of 1952, possibly fearing commitment to an asylum and the loss of her children, Virginia drove to a spot near Gentryville, Indiana, and shot and killed their three children before turning the gun on herself. In 1956, James Rudy used that same gun to kill himself while in his own bed.

Rudy’s will stipulated that the bulk of his estate be donated to Indiana University. After defending the will against a legal challenge from Rudy’s sister, Sara Gray Rudy McNulty, the Board of Trustees used the estate to establish a fund for "Rudy Professors." Originally only for English professors, the "Rudy Professorships” were later interpreted more broadly and used "to attract and retain outstanding faculty." Edwin Cady of the English Department was the first to be awarded a "Rudy Professorship."

Name Relationship to James H. Rudy Occupation
Blair, Fran Brother-in-Law; Brother of Virginia Blair US Army Soldier
Blair, Grace F (Mrs. M. W. Blair) Mother-in-Law; Mother of Virginia Rudy & Linda Boswell Church Worker; homemaker
Blair, Marion W. Father-in-Law; Husband of Grace Blair; Father of Virginia Rudy & Linda Boswell Engineer
Boswell, Charles Brother-in-Law; Husband of Linda Blair Boswell Episcopal Priest
Boswell, Linda Blair Sister-in-Law; Sister of Virginia (Blair) Rudy; Wife of Charles Boswell  
Dee Rudy's black hired hand Hired Farm Worker
Felix, Fred State Trooper who found Virginia & children’s bodies State Trooper
Kennedy, James Cousin of James Rudy  
Kennedy, William Cousin of James Rudy  
Lenon, Maurice E. James Rudy's friend Jeweler, businessman
Lenon, Violet Virginia Rudy's friend Nurse
Matthew Rudy's Mother's black hired hand Hired Farm Worker
McNulty, Sara Gray Rudy Sister of James Rudy; Daughter of George & Katherine Rudy  
Oldham, Dr. John James Rudy's Doctor Physician
Rudy, George H. Father of James & Sarah Rudy; Husband of Katherine Rudy Farmer; businessman
Rudy, James H. Husband of Virginia Rudy; Son of George & Katherine Rudy Farmer; journalist
Rudy, James Henry "Butch" Son of James & Virginia Rudy Child
Rudy, Katherine "Kitty" Mother of James & Sarah Rudy; Wife of George Rudy Business woman & farm wife
Rudy, Katherine Frances "Kitty" Daughter of James & Virginia Rudy Child
Rudy, Sarah Pauline "Sally" Daughter of James & Virginia Rudy Child
Rudy, Virginia Blair Wife of James H. Rudy; Daughter of Marion & Grace Blair Homemaker & farm wife
Wigginton, William James Rudy’s last lawyer, executor & 10% beneficiary of J. Rudy Will Attorney


Organized into four series: Personal writings; Depositions; Legal packets; and Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

The James H. Rudy papers consists of papers brought together after Rudy's death by the Owensboro law firm, Wilson and Wilson, who represented Rudy's friends and lawyer when his sister, Sarah Gray Rudy McNulty, contested his will. Included are family correspondence and papers, Rudy's personal journals, diaries, and ledgers, including typescripts of these records made by investigators. There are also depositions, reports, and handwritten notes made by the lawyers, in addition to any other materials used in their investigation. Wherever possible, the folder headings in the Personal Writings, Depositions and Legal Packets Series are as the law firm labeled them.

Personal writings, 1942-1956, consist of notes, correspondence, and journal and ledger entries made by James Rudy. The series is further divided into two sub-series, Notes and Drafts, consisting of legal pads with personal notes and drafts of correspondence, and Journal and Diaries, 1942-1956, made up of journals/ledgers that Rudy kept for himself and his mother. These journals primarily consist of notes about his farm and the financial affairs of his mother, which Rudy attended to until her death in 1954

Depositions, 1958, consist of the depositions Wilson and Wilson took during preparation for their legal case. Included here are depositions from Rudy's family and friends and by Indiana University Vice President and Treasurer Joseph A. Franklin. Also included is the testimony of the officers who investigated the deaths in 1952.

The third series, Legal packets, is made up of packets of materials pulled together by the Wilson and Wilson law firm. Included are witness statements, transcripts of correspondence, and notes by the lawyers. One packet contains several wills, coroner reports and related material.

The final series, Correspondence, 1923-1958, consists of correspondence of the Rudy's family and friends. It is organized into two sub-series. The General sub-series includes correspondence to and from James Rudy as well as correspondence of the family to or from several acquaintances. The Legal sub-series includes the folder "James Rudy Miscellaneous (primarily correspondence re. division of parents property), 1926-1955" which includes a letter dated March 17, 1952 that is James Rudy’s discussion of his plans to conduct an analysis of the causes for his wife’s suicide. No analysis is included.

Separated Material

Files not related to Rudy, cancelled checks, Indiana University transcripts, medical records, Thermofax copies of original letters and journal transcripts included elsewhere in the collection have all been removed from this collection.


This collection was transferred by the Owensboro, Kentucky, law firm, Wilson and Wilson, to the Indiana University Archives.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Accession 0139.
Usage Restrictions
Copyright interests for this collection have not been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[Item], James H. Rudy papers, Collection C49, Office of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by Verlon L. Stone.

Completed in January 2005.

Series: Personal writings, 1942-1956 

Subseries: Journals and diaries, 1942-1956 

Box 1 1942-1945 


of Katherine F. Rudy expenses, 1954 


Subseries: Notes and drafts, undated 

Box 1 Notes, correspondence, business & personal, undated 

Box 2 Transcripts of legal pads by James H. Rudy, undated 

Series: Depositions, 1958 

Box 2 Linda Blair Boswell, Joseph A. Franklin, Charles R. Boswell, Violet Lenon, Maurice Lenon, and William Wigginton, 1958 

Fred Felix and William Walton Cornett, 1958 

Charles W. Lucas and Roscoe F. Medcalf, 1958 

Sarah Gray Rudy McNulty, 1958 

Series: Legal packets, 1942-1959,   undated 

Box 2 Excerpts and transcripts of legal pads and diaries of James H. Rudy, undated 

Miscellaneous legal memos, notes, documents: wills, coroner reports, letters, 1942-1959 

Summaries and excerpts of letters of James H. Rudy, undated 

Series: Correspondence, 1923-1958,   undated 

Subseries: General, 1923-1956,   undated 

Box 2 Mrs. M. W. (Grace) Blair, 1951-1956 

Mrs. M. W. (Grace) Blair to James Rudy, 1952-1953 

Linda (Blair) Boswell to James Rudy, 1955 

Castle Heights Military Academy, 1928 

Mrs. Bryon (Ella Jewell) LaRue to Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy, 1926 

Maurice Lemon, 1954 

Sara Gray (Rudy) McNulty to Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy, 1927-1929 

John S. Oldham, M.D. to Mrs. Marion Blair, 1956 

George Rudy to Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy, 1923 

George Rudy to James Rudy, 1934 

Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy to James Rudy, 1926 

James Rudy to Mrs. M. W. (Grace) Blair,



James Rudy to Linda & Charles Boswell, 1941-1956,   undated 

James Rudy to Sarah Gray Rudy McNulty, 1927 

James Rudy to George Rudy, 1932,   undated 

James Rudy to Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy, 1924-1938,   undated 

James Rudy to Virginia (Blair) Rudy, undated 

Virginia Blair Rudy, 1942-1951 

Virginia Military Institute, 1926-1927 

Subseries: Legal, 1923-1958,   undated 

Box 2 Charles Boswell to William Wilson, Attorney, 1958 

James Rudy, Miscellaneous, 1926-1955,   undated 

Primarily correspondence regarding the division of parents’ property.

To Mrs. George (Katherine F.) Rudy, 1923-1952 

Wilson and Wilson to James Rudy, 1953 

Earl S. Winter to James Rudy, 1952