Jean Lee Latham (April 19, 1902 – June 13, 1995) was an American writer who specialized in biographies for children or young adults.[1]

Jean Lee Latham
Born(1902-04-19)April 19, 1902
Buckhannon, West Virginia
DiedJune 13, 1995(1995-06-13) (aged 93)
Alma materWest Virginia Wesleyan College, Ithaca Conservatory, Cornell University
SubjectChildren's literature



Jean Lee Latham was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia.[2] Her father was a cabinetmaker and her mother was a teacher.[citation needed] She attended West Virginia Wesleyan College and received an A.B. in 1925. She also attended Ithaca Conservatory. She earned her maters degree from Cornell University in 1930. While in Wesleyan College, she wrote plays. In Ithaca, she taught English, history and play production. She continued teaching in Ithaca after finishing her studies at Cornell.[2]

During World War II Latham trained inspectors for the United States Signal Corps.[3]

Her first book for children was The Story of Eli Whitney. Her book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch won the Newbery Medal in 1956.[4]

WorldCat reports that 12 of her 13 books most widely held in participating libraries are biographies of Bowditch (fictionalized), Eli Whitney, Samuel Morse, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Blackwell, Francis Drake, Cyrus W. Field, Sam Houston (two, one brief and one fictionalized), David Farragut, John Ericsson, and James Cook. The other, This dear-bought land (1957), features "a fifteen-year-old boy [who] joins the expeditionary force that hopes to establish a permanent English colony in Virginia."[5]

Latham's papers are in the University of Minnesota Libraries collection.[6]




  1. ^ "Latham, Jean Lee". Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Jean Lee Latham". e-WV. West Virginia Humanities Council. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  3. ^ "Jean Lee Latham". Britannica Kids. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch | Awards & Grants". American Library Association. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Latham, Jean Lee". WorldCat. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
  6. ^ "Collection: Jean Lee Latham Papers". University of Minnesota Archival Collections Guides. Retrieved 9 November 2023.