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John H. Rous photographs and papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-065

Scope and Contents

Working for the Associated Press in the White House, John Rous took photographs of political and military leaders beginning in the 1940s until the early 1970s. There are many photographs of Presidents (signed and unsigned), world leaders such as Fidel Castro and Winston Churchill, and of Royalty- the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Queen Elizabeth. Of particular interest is the well-known photograph of First Lady Jackie Kennedy, arriving in Washington the evening of President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. There are also award-winning photographs, such as President Lyndon Johnson's casual pose in "Relaxed President," President Johnson and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey in "Hither and Yon." and "Tragedy at the Morgue." In addition to the photographs, the collection includes political memorabilia. During his career, Rous received numerous official invitations to White House dinners and receptions, as well as personal Christmas cards and letters from Presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson. He also collected several pens used by President Johnson to sign various bills, and a few items from Air Force One.


  • Creation: 1940-1970


Language of Materials

This collection contains materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The copyright status of this collection has not been evaluated.

Conditions Governing Use

Photographs in this collection are under copyright held by the Associated Press.

Biographical / Historical

John Rous, born in 1912, was a photographer with a keen eye and an even sharper sense of timing. Rous was born in Meridian, Mississippi and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He graduated from Missionary Ridge High School in Tennessee before attending Pleasant Hill Academy in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Mr. Rous studied photography under Arthur Brooks of Chattanooga who was, at the time, the primary photographer for the two Chattanooga newspapers. In 1933 Mr. Rous obtained a job at the Washington Herald. During WWII he worked in the Office of War Information as the chief of photographers. After the war, he began working with the Associated Press as one of the White House Photographers. John Rous held many elected positions in the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) culminating in his election to the Presidency of the WHNPA. He was one of the organizers of its Photo Contest in which he won 34 awards throughout his life. His photographs won other awards such as the feature category at The Hague, Netherlands in the World Photo Congress. Mr. Rous also notes, in his own career summary, his 1965 "Man of the Year" Award from the Cigar Institute of America. (He was one of the several honored at this event.) Rous enjoyed fishing, hunting, and playing golf in his spare time. He also claimed the Presbyterian faith and was a Mason. Due to his Southern heritage, his White House colleagues referred to him as the "Colonel". The photographs of John Rous are mostly political and span six presidents and three decades. To give an example of his timing, Mr. Rous took a photograph of President Eisenhower shaking Winston Churchill’s hand from the inside of Churchill’s limousine. Probably his most famous photograph is the photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy and Robert Kennedy following the casket of President John F. Kennedy from the airplane on the day of his assassination. Other photographs of the Rous Collection include the last official photograph of President Franklin Roosevelt which appeared on over 300 news covers after Roosevelt’s death. There are also several pictures of celebrities. Some of these were obviously taken by other people since Mr. Rous appears in them, but were part of his personal collection. Included are pictures of actresses Marsha Hunt, Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball, and a group photo of movie stars including Roy Rogers, James Cagney and Edgar Bergen. John Rous was married to Constance Evelyn Hicks Rous for 54 years. They had no children. In 1993 he moved to Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1995, at the age of 82, John Rous died. In his will Mr. Rous left his photograph collection to the UTC Library where his legacy of brilliant photography remains.


6.42 Linear Feet (6 Boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by John Rous to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on 1995 November 13.

Processing Information

Processing of this collection is complete.

John H. Rous photographs and papers
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collection Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collection Area

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library
c/o Special Collections
600 Douglas Street
Chattanooga Tennessee 37403 United States