James Gordon Grayson Collection Finding Aid


James Gordon Grayson Collection Finding Aid


Grayson, James Gordon






Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library


Cataloging of archival materials


Angela L. Walthall




Correspondence is arranged by person beginning with Mr. and Mrs. George Harrison (Gordon’s mother and stepfather), and then chronologically. Everything else is arranged chronologically as long as the materials are dated, except for the items in Folder 20, which are arranged by bulk and size. Note: Letters addressed to both Mr. and Mrs. Harrison are included in the letters addressed to solely Mrs. Harrison because they are written more for her, as Gordon notes anything to George on the side.


Gordon Grayson and Mrs. George L. Harrison
March 12, 1941- September 15, 1941
Travels in South America; plan for Blue Ridge Farm Mares
in 1942
5 items

1 2 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
February 1, 1942- April 21, 1942
Descriptions of Colombia; commentaries on World War II
from his perspective, including mentions of Hitler
and censorship
7 items

1 3 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
May 6, 1942-December 1, 1942
Health, occupation, and political situation in Bogota, Colombia; advice for horse farm business
15 items

1 4 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
January 15, 1943-August 31, 1943
Horses; health and social life in Bogota;
11 items

1 5 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
September 9, 1943-December ?, 1943
Horses, Breeding Program for 1943; social life in Bogota
9 items

1 6 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
January 7, 1944-March 23, 1946
Travels in Europe; inquiries and advice concerning the
horses; mentions of ‘Mr. Allen of the Red Cross,’ of
‘bombing of Normandy.’
***October 19, 1944: said to be written on paper captured
from the Germans
8 items

1 7 Gordon Grayson to Mrs. George L. Harrison
January 14, 1947- March 26, 1947
Travels in California State; beginning law school in
10 items

1 8 Gordon Grayson to Mr. and Mrs. George L. Harrison
August 7, 1949-October 31, 1949
Mission trip to Colombia on behalf of the World Bank;
politics and violence in Colombia; health; horses;
mention of various college sports; mention of
George Marshall and the Red Cross
13 items

1 9 Gordon Grayson to Mr. and Mrs. George L. Harrison
August 31, 1950-May 7, 1953
Travels in England and France; another Bank mission to
Bogota, Colombia
11 items

1 10 Gordon Grayson to George L. Harrison
July 13, 1942- August 24, 1942
Horse business; Cary T. Grayson, Jr.’s army career; golf
at the Country Club de Bogota
2 items

1 11 Gordon Grayson to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison
Colombian holiday card included
3 items

1 12 Vande Lee to Gordon Grayson
July 13, 1929
Seems to be written from a child
Amusing hand-drawn image depicting Gordon in France
1 item

1 13 Edith Bolling Wilson to Gordon Grayson
March 21, 1932
Blank, folded card or note
1 item

1 14 The White House to Gordon Grayson
December 6, 1940
Invitation to a small dance from Eleanor Roosevelt

1 15 Joe Fox to Mrs. George Harrison
October 14, 1942
Thank you letter
1 item

1 16 Gordon Grayson to Miss. King
March 30, 1942-April 5, 1943
Instructions regarding horses
4 items

1 17 Gordon Grayson to Dr. Greene
March 20, 1943
Response to instructions previously sent regarding
Gordon’s eye troubles
1 item

1 18 Cary T. Grayson, Jr. to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison
September 30, 1944
Sending a letter of Gordon’s to Mrs. Harrison
(letter not attached)
1 item

“It’s Going to Be a Cold Winter” –Gladwyn Hill
Accompanied Oct. 11, 1944 letter to Mrs. Harrison
Depicts the restriction of hot water in Paris
“U.S. Must Retain Naval Superiority, D-Day Sea
Commander Declares Here”
2 copies, Gordon pictured
Capt. Herbert Scull, Cincinnati inspector of naval
material welcomes vice Adm. Allan G. Kirk
to Cincinnati as they observe Navy Day

1 20 MISCELLANEOUS 1930-1934, undated:
Empty Envelopes
Business Card for LT. (J.G.) James Gordon Grayson
Assistant Naval Attache
Embassy of the United States of America
Boy Scouts Patch awarded to Gordon February 1934
Small note from Albert H. Lucas
Certificate to appoint Gordon Quarter Master in Troop 25
December 9, 1932
Signed by George Rose, Scoutmaster
Church of the Covenant, Washington, D.C.
Otis Self-Administering Tests of Mental Ability
Taken by Gordon on April 30, 1930 in Grade 6

1 21 POSTCARDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS 1943-1953, undated:

“Palm Springs, Ca. and Mt. San Jacinto as Seen from Air”
Gordon Grayson to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison
January 17, 1947
“Can’t BEAR to be Separated from You!”
Unknown to Gordon Grayson
November 1, 1947
“Sons of the Pioneers/Wooing Lady Luck in Nevada”
Unknown to Gordon Grayson
November 15, 1947
“Les Berds de la Riviera”
Gordon Grayson to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison
October 10, 1950
“Marineland, Florida”
Unknown to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison
March 20, 1953
“Lovely View of Cuzco”
Gordon Grayson to Mrs. Harrison
Gordon pictured

4 small photos: 3 with a horse, 1 with 3 other people
Gordon pictured in all four
Accompanied the Nov. 2, 1943 letter to Mrs.
Man with a bicycle
Children on Sleds
Gordon Grayson, “Portrait of Distinction”

Biography or History

Lt. James Gordon Grayson was one of three sons of Cary T. Grayson, who was the personal physician to President Woodrow Wilson. The Grayson family resided mostly in New York City, Washington D.C., and at their horse farm, Blue Ridge Farm, in Virginia. As encompassed by this particular collection, he served as an Assistant Naval Attache for the United States Embassy in Colombia during World War II. In the years following the war, Gordon attended Law School in Charlottesville, presumably at the University of Virginia, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s he worked for a bank, presumably the World Bank, for which he completed several mission trips to Bogota, Colombia. Aside from his career, Gordon Grayson was very fond of socializing, traveling, polo, and horses in general. He was very well educated and enjoyed being of use to his country, his family, and his friends.

Scope and Content

The documents in this collection are all original and consist mostly of Gordon’s letters to home during his World War II and World Bank services in Colombia and his travels in California and Europe. However, more than half of his collection encompasses his time in South America during the Second World War. Materials as early as 1929 and as late as 1953 are included, and are divided into the following series: General Correspondence, Newspaper Clippings, Miscellaneous, and Postcards and Photographs.

The General Correspondence series comprises of about seventy-five percent of the entire collection. While Folders 1-9 consists of letters Gordon wrote to his mother or his parents together, Folders 10-18 include letters written to and by a number of other individuals. The letters Gordon wrote to his parents are the most insightful.

The Newspaper Clippings include a small story about the conservation of hot water in wartime France that Gordon had sent to his mother, whom he thought would find it amusing, as well as a larger story concerning the visit of vice Admiral Allan G. Kirk to Cincinnati for the observance of Navy Day, which Gordon was present for and is pictured. The Miscellaneous folder consists of anything that is not a letter, newspaper, postcard, or photograph, and includes materials from Gordon’s childhood. In the Postcards and Photographs series, several photographs can be seen of Gordon Grayson and his horses, among a few others.

Gordon Grayson’s letters encompass an array of information on the business of horse breeding, training, and racing. Constantly giving his parents advice as to what should be done with the horses on the farm back home, many of his letters include detailed descriptions of the business at their family farm known as Blue Ridge Farm, which is located in Uppersville, Virginia.

Gordon also provides an interesting insight into Colombian society with some notes on the political situation at various election times. As he saw much of World War II from his station in Bogota, Colombia, Gordon often laments at not feeling useful enough to the war effort. In the meantime, he provides a look at how the war was affecting other areas of the world through censorship and shipping difficulties.

In general, Gordon Grayson’s collection is a good resource for a look at how an early twentieth century wealthy family functioned in addition to acting as a window into the personality and daily life of Gordon himself.

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Gordon Grayson Collection Finding Aide[JMU].pdf


Grayson, James Gordon, “James Gordon Grayson Collection Finding Aid,” 1929-1953, FA000485, James Gordon Grayson Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

Archival Finding Aid