James Jerome Hill was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on March 2, 1905. He was born into the family of Louis W. and Maud Van Cortlandt Hill, one of the prominent families of Saint Paul and heirs to the railroad fortune of James J. Hill, the famed "Empire Builder." Hill had three siblings: two brothers, Cortlandt and Louis Jr.; and one sister, Maud. Maud is referred to in the collection by her married name, Maud Hill Schroll.
Hill's papers represent a fine view into the Louis W. Hill family in particular
and into the world of Saint Paul in the early 20th century. The Hill family,
who lived at 260 Summit Avenue, next to James
J. Hill's mansion, hosted and entertained the cream of Twin Cities society.
Hill's mother, Maud, was an extraordinarily friendly woman who maintained friendships
with a wide variety of people throughout her life. Her correspondence with her
son Jerome is one of the highlights of his personal papers.
Hill attended Saint Paul Academy, and while there, distinguished himself as an artist. He created a series of murals for one room at the school that showed famous scenes in the history of science, including Archimedes and Isaac Newton's discoveries in physics.
While there is not a great deal of correspondence dating from before Hill's college career, there are many photographs, including portraits of the entire family and scenes from family vacations and outings.