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John A. Sawhill Collection

Identifier: SC 0111
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756 to 1848, consists of seven documents housed in one oversized flat folder. It includes two issues of the London newspaper the Whitehall Evening Post from the years 1756 and 1775, which reflect the prevailing British perspective on world events at the time. The 1756 issue includes 'curious' local news (robberies, etc.) and various cure-all advertisements. The 1775 issue includes references to the Spanish armament in Gibraltar and various news from America, including a report of a military engagement with 300 "provincials" at Boston [Bunker Hill?] where 32 Americans were killed. References are also made to General Gage, the British commander and the arrival of British troops in Boston, "the event of which, it is thought, will put an end to the present quarrel by concessions or submission." The American seizure of Fort Ticonderoga is also mentioned. Also included in the collection are two Justice of the Peace commissions for three Franklin County, Virginia residents, a Land Office Treasury Warrant and two land grants pertaining to land in Bath County, Augusta County, and Henry County, Virginia.


  • Creation: 1756-1848


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

Born in Colorado in 1892, John Alexander Sawhill was educated at Princeton University and later wounded during his military service during World War I. He came to James Madison University (then known as the State Teachers College and later as Madison College) in 1927 and taught Latin, Greek, and German until 1957. An avid traveler and collector, Sawhill journeyed many times to the Middle East. He acquired thousands of items, including books, documents, recordings, coins, and works of art over the years. Though married twice, Sawhill outlived both of his wives and had no children. He passed away in 1976 and bequeathed his extensive collection to the James Madison University Foundation


0.27 cubic feet (1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848, contains seven miscellaneous documents of American and British origin.


The collection is organized in one oversize folder.


A portion of the larger John A. Sawhill estate containing coins, music, and other materials were bequeathed to James Madison Univeristy in 1976.

Acquisition Information

Items were recieved from the James Madison University Foundation in September 2000 under the authority of Dr. Ray Sonner, the executor of John Sawhill's estate and also a James Madison University administrator.

Processing Notes

Large documents that had been folded were flattened and transferred into an oversize folder. Large documents that had been folded were flattened and transferred into an oversize flat folder. In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 1765.

A Guide to the John A. Sawhill Collection, 1756-1848
Marcus Hubbard and Chris Bolgiano
January 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612