James Rodney Hastings, often called Rod or Rodney, was a meteorologist that studied the effects of rainfall on plant growth in arid regions. He attended Kenyon College, the University of Chicago, and then the University of Arizona, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 1951; and then earned a Ph.D. in history and a minor in meteorology in 1963. Hastings taught History at Hayden High School and was elected to be the first mayor of the town of Hayden, after it was incorporated in 1956. In 1962, he took a teaching position in the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Arizona. He co-authored two books, The Changing Mile and The Changing Mile Revisited.
The papers of meteorologist and mayor James Rodney Hastings contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, articles, unpublished writings, photographs, and documents relating to Hastings's life and careers. This collection spans from 1923-2000, with the bulk of the papers spanning 1954-1974. The correspondence includes letters both to and from Hastings. There are frequent letters to Bernard and Erna Hennessy, and an exchange with Stewart Udall. Newspaper clippings and articles concern the town of Hayden, covering topics such as its relationship with Kennecott Copper, property assessment trends, town taxes, and the town's incorporation.