Pershing, John. Papers, 1920-1982: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard Law School
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: HOLLIS 601706
Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Pershing, John
Title: John Pershing papers
Quantity: 1 collection (7 boxes and 1 Paige box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Pershing was an authority on public works financing and the bulk of his papers relates
to his involvement in that capacity at the federal, state and municipal levels. Included
is Pershing's diary from his fifteen months with the early Public Works Administration.
Gift of John Pershing's daughter, Pamela Pershing Herrick in 1983.
Prepared December, 1983.
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.
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.
b. 22 March 1900, Denver, Colorado
A.B. Princeton University, 1921
LL.B. Harvard University, 1924
m. Margaret Jane Simms, 1924; children: John Pershing, Jr.; Dr. Hugh Simms Pershing;
Pamela Pershing Herrick
Law practice in Denver, 1924-1934
Assistant Director of the Legal Division of the Federal Emergency Administration
of Public Works from February 1934 - June 1935, Washington, D.C.
Partner in law firm of Mitchell and Pershing, New York, New York, specializing in
public works finance, 1935-1956; was bond counsel for the financing of many state
turnpikes, including the Richmond (Virginia) - Petersburg Turnpike Authority.
Retired from New York law practice in 1956; moved to Richmond, Virginia.
General manager and executive director of the Richmond - Petersburg Turnpike Authority,
1956-1970; retired in 1970.
At one time, was president of the American Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.
Chairman of the Committee on Special Revenue and Authority Obligations of the Section
of Municipal Law of the American Bar Association.
Lecturer on public corporation finance, University of Virginia Law School, 1957-1961.
Chairman of the Virginia delegation to the President's Committee for Traffic Safety,
d. 5 January 1982, Richmond, Virginia.
- "Revenue Bond Remedies," 22 Cornell Law Quarterly 1 (December 1936) 64-82.
- "Revenue Bond Financing of Public Off-Street Parking Facilities," 36 Virginia Law
Review 8 (December 1950) 1019-1027.
- Draft of Model Turnpike Act
- Series I.Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, Folders 1-1 to 5-8.
- Series II.Writings, Speeches, Research, Professional Activities other than FEAPW, Folders 5-9 to 7-5.
- Series III.Personal, Folders 7-6 to 7-19.
- Series IV.Revenue Bond Financing, Paige box.
Within each series and/or subseries individual items or folders are identified by
box and folder number. For example, the number 5-2 corresponds to box 5, folder 2.
The 1,800 items in the papers of John Pershing (1900-1982) span the years 1920-1969;
there is a small number of obituary clippings of 1982. The collection includes correspondence (letters received and carbons of letters sent); memoranda; minutes of meetings; reports; drafts; outlines; lecture notes; examination papers; legal and government documents; legislative bills; clippings; and other printed items.
John Pershing was an authority on public works financing, and the bulk of his papers
related to his involvement in that capacity at the federal, state and municipal levels.
Forty-one folders contain a state-by-state study of public works financing and practices
which Pershing made while serving as assistant director of the legal division of the
Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, the forerunner of the WPA, from February 23, 1934 - May 28, 1935. These folders contain essentially memoranda
requested by Pershing and submitted to him and his office by officers of the various
states; also included are reports, copies of briefs and legislative acts, notes of
John Pershing, drafts of his article "Revenue Bond Remedies" which first appeared
in the Cornell Law Quarterly of December, 1936.
An interesting segment relating to Pershing's fifteen months with the early Public Works Administration is his diary of that period, recording day by day staff meetings, and conferences
with officials from states and municipalities who had come to Washington to report
on public works in progress or were submitting proposals for public works.
Other subject files in the Pershing papers relate to his participation in the meeting
of the President's Committee for Traffic Safety, held in Miami Beach, Florida, 29-30 May 1958; his Public Corporation Finance seminar at the University of Virginia Law School (1957-1962); speaking engagements (1957-1962); his role as executive director of the
Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike Authority (1956-1970); his drafting of a Model Turnpike Act; his activities as a member of the
Section of Municipal Law of the American Bar Association (1953-1954); his participation as judge in the Ames Moot Court finals at the Harvard Law School (22 November 1950); and trips abroad in 1962 and 1965. There
are eight folders of "personal" correspondence (1950-1953, 1967) which include some
professional matters. The only correspondence sequence of any length with one individual
is Pershing's correspondence with the dean of the University of Virginia Law School,
The files marked "Speaking Engagements" include invitations to speak, arrangements
for delivery of speeches and remarks, and typed manuscripts of these talks.
Pershing's student notebooks were transferred to the Law Library collections.
(1) Contracts [Williston?] n.d.
(2) Equity, Vol. III [Chafee?] n.d.
- Series I. FEDERAL EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC WORKS
- 1- 1. Minutes of regional counsel meeting
- 1- 2 to 1- 6. Miscellaneous laws5 folders
- 1- 7 to 1- 9. Alabama laws3 folders
- 1-10. Arizona laws
- 1-11. Arkansas laws
- 1-12. California laws
- 2- 1 to 2- 3. Colorado laws3 folders
- 2- 4. Constitutionality of Title II Decisions
- 2- 5. Florida laws
- 2- 6. Idaho laws
- 2- 7 to 2- 8. Illinois laws2 folders
- 2- 9. Indiana laws
- 2-10 to 2-11. Iowa laws2 folders
- 2-12. Kansas laws
- 3- 1 to 3- 3. Kentucky laws3 folders
- 3- 4 to 3- 5. Louisiana laws2 folders
- 3- 6. Michigan laws
- 3- 7. Minnesota laws
- 3- 8. Mississippi laws
- 3-10 to 3-11. Montana laws2 folders
- 3-12. Nebraska laws
- 3-14 to 3-15. New York laws2 folders
- 4- 1. North Dakota laws
- 4- 2. Ohio laws
- 4- 5 to 4- 6. Pennsylvania laws2 folders
- 4- 7. South Carolina laws
- 4- 8. South Dakota laws
- 4- 9. Tennessee laws
- 4-10. Texas laws
- 4-11. Utah laws
- 4-12. Utah cities and towns: bond record memoranda - revenue bonds
- 4-13. Virginia laws
- 5- 1. West Virginia laws
- 5- 2. Wisconsin laws
- 5- 3. Wyoming laws
- 5- 4. Miscellaneous notes and memoranda
- 5- 5 to 5- 8. Office diary of JP, 23 February 1934 - 28 May 1935 4 folders
Date: 23 February 1934 - 28 May 1935
Loose sheets from 3-hole notebook listing individuals whom JP had conference any given
day including brief synopsis of subject discussed or request made. Includes phone
- Series II. WRITINGS, SPEECHES, RESEARCH, PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES OTHER THAN FEAPW
- 5- 9 to 5-10. American Bar Association. Section of Municipal Law 1952-1954 2 folders
- 5-11. President's Committee for Traffic Safety, 1958, 1959
Date: 1958, 1959
JP Chairman of the Virginia State session at the Southeastern regional citizen leadership
conference of the President's Committee for Traffic Safety, 29-30 May 1958, Miami Beach.
- 5-12. Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority
Undated memorandum, pre-1956, with marginal notes in JP's hand.
- 5-13 to 5-14. Revenue bonds: court decisions 1920-1960 2 folders
Lists of decisions, handed down between 1920 and 1960, involving the question whether
state and municipal bonds payable solely from revenues of a public utility constitute
a debt. Arr. alph. by states. Includes clipping of piece by JP: "More about the lease
technique of avoiding debt limitations," from Municipal Law Service Letter, Vol. 1,
No. 6 (June, 1951).
- 6- 1 to 6- 4. Richmond Expressway System4 folders
Corr., memoranda and statements by JP relating to the development of a Richmond (Virginia)
expressway system, gathered together by JP under the title: "Prenatal Influences and
Labor Pains Affecting the Birth of the Richmond Expressway System." 1958 - 1968. 167
p. + Appendix. Includes JP's initial statement of 16 February 1962: "The Role of the
Turnpike Authority in the Development of Richmond's Expressway System."
- 6- 5. Richmond - Petersburg Turnpike Authority
Typed MS of statement of JP, ca. 1954 (18 + 3p.), or draft of enabling legislation
- 6- 6 to 6- 9. University of Virginia. School of Law 1957 - 1962 4 folders
Date: 1957 - 1962
JP taught a seminar course on Public Corporation Finance. Includes corr. relating to his teaching, mainly with Dean F.D.G. Ribble; also teaching
notes, lists of cases, examination questions, research items.
- 6-10. Virginia Bridge: "Statement of the Case"
Carbon of typed MS of JP, dated 6/22/1948; various paging.
- 6-11. West Virginia Turnpike Commission
Corr. re federal financing to enable State of W.V. to purchase Turnpike, 1968 - 1969.
- 6-12 to 6-13. Drafts of pieces on revenue bonds and revenue bond remedies, by JP; reprints of "Revenue
Bond Remedies"2 folders
- 6-14 to 7- 4. Speaking engagements, 1957 - 1968 5 folders
Date: 1957 - 1968
Folders contain invitations to speak; corr. relating to delivery of speeches, informal
talks, official testimony before committees, etc.; and MSS of such speeches, talks,
or testimonies. Many items undated. Roughly reverse chron. order.
- 7- 5. Pershing, John. "Model Turnpike Act"
Carbon of typed MS. Various paging.
- Series III. PERSONAL
- 7- 6. Personal correspondence, 1950
Arrangements re meetings, esp. ABA Council of the Section of Municipal Law; corr. with Jefferson B. Fordham, Chairman (Dean, Ohio State College of Law); minutes of meeting of Council; JP member of Council. Corr. re his paper in Va. Law Review, read at ABA Sect. of Mun. Law. Arr. chron., chiefly carbons. JP Chairman of the Committee
on Special Revenue and Authority Obligations of the Section of Municipal Law. Talk
was called "Revenue Bond Financing of Public Off-Street Parking Facilities"
- 7- 7. Personal correspondence, 1951
Corr. re ABA Section, Cape Cod property matters. Letter describing operation of Maine
Turnpike Authority, 23 July.
- 7- 8. Personal correspondence, 1952
Corr. with new Chairman of ABA Council: William F. Tempest. Inv. to dedication of
Elizabeth River Tunnel, York River Bridge. Some corr. with members of his (late) father's
law firm. Was elected Vice-Chairman of Section.
- 7- 9. Personal correspondence, 1953
- 7-10. Journal letters of trips abroad, 1962, 1965
Date: 1962, 1965
Holograph letters of JP to family members re trip around the world, Sept. - Dec. 1962,
and trip to South America, May 1965. Includes itinerary and other lists for 1962 trip.
- 7-11 to 7-14. Personal correspondence, 1967 4 folders
1 item Jan. 1966. Corr. with friends re their illnesses. Richmond, Va. town matters; invitations to business or social functions; Richmond Metropolitan Authority;
turnpike authorities in other states or cities, eg. Richmond, Petersburg, New Jersey,
Oklahoma. Comments on talks by JP. Corr. re his summer homes on Cape Cod, cars. Personal
matters re turnpike authorities, etc. Travel plans. Cape Cod property.
- 7-15. Personal correspondence, 1969 - 1970
Date: 1969 - 1970
Incl. letter from Secretary of Transportation, John A. Volpe
- 7-16. Harvard Law School. Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Ames 1950
Briefs in Ames Court finals, 22 Nov. 1950, by Kent Club and PowWow Club, in Dolan
v. Dolan. JP one of the judges.
- 7-17. Harvard Law School. Supreme Court of the Holmes Law Club
Brief for defendant in Barrett v. Wendell. JP one of counsel for the defendant. Ca.
- 7-19. ABA
Corr. re arrangements of topics for meetings, strength of membership; alph. and geogr.
lists of members. JP Vice-Chairman of Section in 1953. Includes typed undated MS:
"Revenue Bond Financing of Public Off-Street Parking Facilities," 13 p., by JP.
- Series IV. REVENUE BOND FINANCING (Paige Box)
- Revenue bond financing: miscellaneous printed and mimeographed items
Includes reprints of articles; copies of opinions, some rendered by JP's New York
City law firm Mitchell and Pershing; trust indentures; statistical tables; advance
sheets; briefs; resolutions; trust agreements; official statements; ordinances
Tax revenue estimating
Toll roads -United States
Pershing, John, 1900-1982.
United States -Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works