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James B. Hodges Collection

Identifier: Ms 053

Scope and Content

The James B. Hodges Collection consists primarily of correspondence and includes attachments such as newspaper clippings, posters and leaflets. It includes Hodges' personal and professional correspondence as well as official records of the State Executive Committee of the Democratic Party. The collection documents both Hodges' legal and political careers, but it is his files on the Democratic Party and his involvement with Governor Catts that stand out. The collection contains what is probably the largest concentration of Sidney Catts correspondence in existence and is arguably the only large source of documents on Catts. The collection also documents most of the major state political campaigns in the period of 1930-1938 as well as a few earlier campaigns. Hodges' records related to the State Executive Committee document the party's activities at the national, state and local levels. The collection is also a source for the history of Lake City as well as Florida railroads in the early 20th century. Lastly, the collection documents higher education and agriculture during Hodges' tenure on the Board of Control and State Plant Board.

Large gaps appear in the records, particularly for the series related to railroads and the Florida Board of Control.


  • Creation: 1902-1938



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Branch Hodges (1877-1938) was a lawyer in Lake City, Florida, who rose to prominence in the state Democratic Party. Hodges was born in Dooly County, Georgia, and moved to Lake City in 1892. He began his law practice in 1904. Hodges' legal practice centered on civil law and he was employed as local counsel for several railroad and timber companies. He had a brief political career serving one session in the Florida House (1909), one term as mayor of Lake City (1909-1910), and several terms as a city council member. His career took a turn when he switched his allegiances from William V. Knott to Sidney J. Catts in the 1916 gubernatorial election. After Catts' election, Hodges became an influential member of the governor's inner circle. He was appointed to the Florida Board of Control and State Plant Board by Catts in 1917 and served until 1921. Hodges was a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee from 1910-1912 and from 1918 until his death in 1938. He chaired the committee from 1932 to 1938.


33 Linear feet (57 boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers documenting Florida political history, particularly 1916-1938, and relating to James B. Hodges' career as a member of the Florida House of Representatives (1909); mayor (1909-1910) and city council member (1913-1920) of Lake City; and member of Florida State Executive Committee of the Democratic Party and of the Board of Control and State Plant Board. Also includes a large concentration of Governor Sidney Catts correspondence.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection was the gift of Hodges' sons, James B. Hodges, Jr. and Joseph Earman Hodges. A photograph taken at the time of the donation would indicate that the collection came to the University of Florida sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Related Material

There is a small Joe Earman Collection in the Florida Miscellaneous Manuscript Collections (00,429). The University of Florida also holds the papers of his son, James B. Hodges, Jr., and Philip Keyes Yonge, who also served on the Board of Control and State Plant Board.

Processing Notes

The collection was used extensively in Wayne Flynt's biography of Sidney Catts, Cracker Messiah, published in 1977. The citations in that work refer to an earlier box list which was not available when the collection was reprocessed in 2009. A second box list was created after 1977 and 50 manuscripts boxes were discarded at that time. The collection was reprocessed and fully described in 2009 and another 30 Linear feet. were removed.

This finding aid was revised in August 2022. Recognizing that historical terms do not always completely or directly map to contemporary terms, that historical terms can be offensive or inaccurately describe a person or group, and that the presence of both historical and contemporary terms may be useful for researcher discovery, the archivist has attempted to employ historical terms as they originally appear in the context of the collection, in the description, along with contemporary terms in brackets.

A Guide to the James B. Hodges Collection
Finding aid created by Carl Van Ness
October 2009
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America