The James Rogers McConnell papers consist of approximately 210 items, including 160 letters written by McConnell to his friend Paul Ayres Rockwell and to Mademoiselle Marcelle Guérin, a French nurse serving at the hospital in Paris. The letters date from 1915, when McConnell served with the American Ambulance service on the Western Front in France; 1916, the year of the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille, with McConnell as one of its seven original American pilots; and, 1917, ending a few days before McConnell's death. The letters provide a vivid picture of McConnell's service in the cause of France, not only as a non-combatant, but also as an active participant in the war.

James Rogers McConnell was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 14 March 1887, one of three children of Samuel P. and Sarah Rogers McConnell. The elder McConnell practiced law in Chicago from 1872- 1889, and served as Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court from 1889-1894. After an interval of private practice, he moved to New York City, where he served as vice-president and counsel of the George A. Fuller Company until his retirement in 1904.

The younger McConnell grew up in Chicago and New York City. He gained a certificate from the Haverford School in Pennsylvania before entering the University of Virginia in 1907. He spent two years in the College and a year in the Law School, withdrawing from his studies in the spring of 1910. While at Virginia, Jim McConnell held memberships in Beta Theta Pi, Theta Nu Epsilon, O.W.L., T.I.L.K.A., and the German Club. He was King of the Hot Foot Society, Editor-in-Chief of Corks and Curls, Assistant Cheer Leader, a member of the New York Club and President of the Aero Club, which he had helped to found. His bonhomie and bagpipe-playing gave rise to fond memories among his college contemporaries.

This exhibit is drawn largely from McConnell's personal papers and from materials in the University of Virginia Archives.