Jim was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Marjorie and Harold Hamilton. He attended Williston Northampton School and Dartmouth College and received a masters degree in graphic arts under the tutelage of Alex Nesbitt at Southern Massachusetts University.
Jim had a long and productive career as a printing salesman for Nimrod Press, which later became part of Universal Printing. Well known in the printing industry of New England, he was a longtime member of the Society of Printers from whom he received the Benjamin Franklin Award for distinguished service in 1996. He was a member for many years of PINE, Printing Industries of New England, and chaired their scholarship program.