Skip to main content

James C. Turk Papers

Identifier: 2014-004

Content Description

The James C. Turk papers deal almost exclusively with his service as judge on the Western District of Virginia Federal Court from 1972-2014. Nothing from his childhood, education, war service or legislative career are documented here. Of the many civic and educational boards on which he served, only his relationship with Washington and Lee University is treated in these papers.The correspondence series comprises letters from several sources: folders marked 'personal correspondence,' 'general correspondence,' and a group of letter boxes. Examining the contents of these files showed great overlap in their contents and, thus, they are to make up a single series. Likewise the subject files series seemed to have been kept in a variety of places, but creating a single series seemed to make most sense. Though speeches, photos, and clippings are each assigned separate series, there is just one folder in each category.The 15 cubic feet of opinions and orders makes up almost half of the collection. It is unclear at this point as to their research value. Many are unreported, not found in the commercial electronic legal databases, and not shown to be available yet from the National Archives.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1968; 1972-2014

Biographical / Historical

Biographical SketchJames Clinton Turk was born on his parents' farm in Roanoke County on May 3, 1923. He was educated at William Byrd High School, Vinton, Virginia; Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia; and Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia where he was a member of the class of 1952. Between college and law school, Turk served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Wed to the former Barbara Louise Duncan in 1954, they went on to have five children. He was active in many community and educational organizations as a board member or trustee. He practiced law at the Radford firm of Dalton, Poff & Turk. In 1959, Turk was elected to the Virginia Senate where he served as minority leader from 1965-1972. President Richard M. Nixon appointed Turk to a federal judgeship in the Western District of Virginia in 1972. From 1973-1993, he acted as Chief Judge of the Western District. During these years, he presided over several high profile cases including the 1981 libel case that the Rev. Jerry Falwell brought against Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Though he took senior status in 2002, he served the court until his death on July 6, 2014 at his home in Claytor Lake, Virginia.


33 Cubic Feet (33 record cartons and 1 oversize folder.)

Language of Materials



Series 1 Biographical Materials

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Archives Repository

1 Denny Circle
Washington and Lee University School of Law
Lexington VA 24450