James Cannon III worked as an educator and administrator at Trinity College and Duke University from 1919 to 1960, serving as Dean of the Divinity School from 1951 to 1958. The Canon papers contain correspondence, manuscript drafts of sermons and publications, course materials, subject files, clippings, photographs, ephemera, and scrapbooks relating to the life and work of James Cannon III. Major subjects include biblical literature and the Bible as literature, religious education, missionary training, history of religion, Christianity, Buddhism, comparative religion, and the Cannon family, especially James Cannon, Jr. and James Cannon IV. English.
The Cannon papers were originally organized into three main files and arranged alphabetically within these files. Three series reflecting the original order were created: Personal files and family history, Writings, and Subject files. The Writings series was reorganized by type of writing into three subseries: Sermons, Articles, and Course materials. Some clippings files, reference materials, gradebooks, and duplicates were removed from the papers.