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John L. Heatwole Personal Papers

Identifier: SC 0101
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

John L. Heatwole Personal Papers, 1973-1995, consists of one hollinger box and one flat box of items such as correspondence, exhibit notices, consignment contracts, magazine articles, photos, and sketches relevant to Heatwole's work as an artist and lecturer. The collection is arranged into four series: Diaries, Letters, Media, and Miscellaneous.

Series 1, Diaries, 1979-1995, consists of four bound diaries arranged into two folders. The content of these diaries is mainly relevant to his business and art.

Series 2, Letters, 1976-1987, includes incoming letters from students, fellow artists, clients, the Dow Agency, and Neiman-Marcus. Many letters are pertinent to exhibits, events, and lectures Heatwole participated in.

Series 3, Media, 1973-1989, includes magazines and newsletters containing articles about Heatwole, photocopies of newspaper clippings about the artist, and a 1989 WVPT video of an interview with the artist.

Series 4, Miscellaneous, 1976-1987, contains a variety of items relevant to Heatwole's art, as well as events and activities in which he participated. The series includes two issues of Fine Woodworking Magazine which contain articles and reviews written by Heatwole. A few items of crrespondence from the publisher relevant to the articles are housed with the magazines. The series also holds drafts of articles by Heatwole; business documents such as sale receipts, consignment contracts, and deeds of gift; photographs of the artist and his woodcarvings; and event memborabilia such as public notices of exhibits, programs from events, and photocopies of a visitor register form from an exhibit of Heatwole's work.


  • 1973 - 1995


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 Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

John L. Heatwole (1948-2006), born in Washington D.C., served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked at the Library of Congress until 1974, when he and his wife, Miriam, relocated to the Shenandoah Valley. Heatwole originally took a job as a woodcarver with the Virginia Craftsmen Furniture Company in Harrisonburg, Va., and three years later he opened his own woodcarving shop in Bridgewater, Va. Heatwole drew on folklore and family sotries as inspiration for his wood carvings. Using only hand tools and a secret color staining process, Heatwole became widely recognized as a local artist of note. In addition to artist and woodcarver, he was also locally known as a tour guide, historian and folklorist in the Shenandoah Valley. Throughout his lifetime he sat on various committees and boards related to both art and history, and received many awards for his work. He chaired the Rockingham County Bicentennial Committee and in 1991 he was the first Virginian to display art in the National Capital Rotunda. Heatwole also authored several books relating to superstitions, folkways, and the Civil War.


0.84 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



John L. Heatwole Personal Papers, 1973-1995, consists of one Hollinger box and one flat box of items such as correspondence, exhibit notices, consignment contracts, magazine articles, photos, and sketches relevant to Heatwole's work as an artist and lecturer.


The collection is arranged by topic into four series:

  1. Diaries, 1979-1995
  2. Letters, 1976-1987
  3. Media, 1973-1989
  4. Miscellaneous, 1976-1987

Acquisition Information

Materials were donated by John L. Heatwole in December 1987 and September 1995.


  • Heatwole, John L. John L. Heatwole: The Word Gatherer, Oral History Inteview. By Carol Maureen DeHart. Staunton, Va.: Lot's Wife Publishing, 2007.

Processing Information

In 2010, a few series titles and folders were renamed and one folder was reorganized into additional folders to improve understanding of the collections's contents. The order imposed by the creator has been generally maintained in most cases. 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 2075.

A Guide to the John L. Heatwole Personal Papers, 1973 -1995
Christina Bolgiano, Tara Mastrangelo
March 1988, July 2008, September 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • September 2010: Revised by Tara Mastrangelo
  • 2013-11-21: Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.
  • 2022-12-01: Oversize series was intellectually removed and items were arranged into other existing series.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

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