Photographs of James H. Quillen, 1930s and undated

KC Manuscript Collection 549


Title: Photographs of James H. Quillen

Collection Number: Kingsport Community Manuscript Collection (KCMC) 549

Physical Description: 1 folder (2 photographs) 

Creator: unknown

Repository: Archives of the City of Kingsport


Provenance: The Photographs of James H. Quillen were donated to the Archives of the City of Kingsport by Janyce Dudney in 2012.

Access/Restrictions: There are no restrictions on use of this collection for research purposes. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Processed by: This collection was processed by Brianne Wright and opened for research in August 2013.


This collection should be cited as:

Photographs of James H. Quillen, 1930s and undated. KC Manuscript Collection 549, Archives of the City of Kingsport, Tennessee.


James Henry Quillen was born January 11, 1916 in Wayland,Virginia to John Alley and Hannah Chapman Quillen. During the late 1920s, his family moved to Kingsport Tennessee where he continued his schooling and held part-time jobs working at a restaurant, grocery store, and delivering telegrams by bicycle. He graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1934.

In 1936, Quillen began a weekly newspaper called The Kingsport Mirror, cementing himself as the youngest newspaper publisher in the United States. He sold the weekly newspaper in 1939. Using the money from the sale of The Kingsport Mirror, Quillen established The Johnson City Times, a weekly and, in 1940, a daily newspaper in Johnson City. He sold the newspaper in 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Quillen entered World War II as an ensign in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Antietam. He was discharged as a lieutenant in 1946, where he had served in both theatres of war.

Following his discharge in 1946, Quillen became involved in construction and, later, in real estate and insurance as president and owner of the Kingsport Development Company. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Cecile Cox, while she was employed at Tennessee Eastman Company. They were married on August 9, 1952. Quillen credits Cecile with influencing him to seek political office. Due to her urging and the persuasive efforts of others he became a candidate for the Tennessee Legislature in 1954 and was elected Representative of Hawkins and Sullivan County.

He served 8 years (1954-1962) in the Tennessee Legislature, including his service on the legislative council and as minority leader (1952-1960). During his time as a State Representative, he was also was nominated as Speaker of the House. In 1962, Quillen entered the Congressional race for the First District U.S. House of Representatives.

Quillen’s political career spans a great number of accomplishments. From 1956 to his retirement, he had served as a delegate/parliamentarian to each Republican National Convention; dean of the Tennessee delegation to Washington; chairman emeritus of the House Rules Committee (1965 to his retirement); vice chairman of the Legislative and Budget Process Subcommittee; chairman of the TVA Caucus; and a member of the Republic Policy Committee.

In 1986, he was named Tennessee States Man of the Year, and Interstate Highway 181 in Northeast Tennessee named in his honor. In 1993, he received the George L. Carter Award from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in Johnson City. He also held a Doctor of Laws degree from Milligan College, an honorary Doctor of Letters from King College in Bristol and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Tusculum College. For ten years he led an instrumental battle to establish a medical school at ETSU, which now bears his name as the James H. Quillen College of Medicine. In 1991, another medical facility was dedicated to the Congressman and his wife, the James H. And Cecile Quillen Center for Rehabilitative Medicine in Johnson City. In 1994, Holston Valley Hospital and Medical Center, Kingsport, named its new cardiac wing in honor of the congressman as the James H. Quillen Regional Heart Center.

On April 10, 1996, Congressman Quillen officially announced his decision to not seek reelection in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his retirement, Quillen continued to be active throughout the community. Upon his retirement, Quillen held the record for the longest continuous service by any Tennessee congressman in the US House of Representatives.

James H. Quillen passed away on November 2, 2003.


The collection contains 2 photographs of James H. Quillen.



1. Photographs, 1930s and undated

a. 1930s

b. undated