Elmer Thomas Collection

1896-1954 (bulk: 1927-1950)

282 cubic feet

portrait of Elmer Thomas
Campaign Inventory
Constituent Services Inventory
Legislative Inventory
Maps Inventory
Miscellaneous Inventory
Office Inventory
Oversize Inventory
Projects Inventory
Resource Inventory
Special Correspondence Inventory
Speech Inventory
Subject Inventory

While critics scoffed at him for focusing only on constituents, Oklahoma voters consistently voted for John William Elmer Thomas (1876-1965) for nearly thirty years. Thomas won his first national political office when he was elected as the representative of the Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1922. Although he was reelected in 1924, he opted for the U.S. Senate in 1926. In 1927, he began the first of four terms in the Senate, where at various times, he served as the chair of the Agriculture and Forestry Committee, the War Department Appropriations Subcommittee, the Indian Affairs Committee, and the Special Silver Committee. Thomas was especially interested in monetary policy, Depression relief, Native Americans, irrigation, flood control, and the petroleum industry. He also focused his attention on the silver standard monetary policy for inflating low farm prices.

Most of the material in the Thomas Collection was created during his senatorial years. Because Thomas served over half of his years in the Senate during the Great Depression and World War II, the collection is an excellent source on the history of the nation and Oklahoma during the 1930s and 1940s. The files reflect the national debate over these two major crises and include opinions of colleagues, figures in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, and other prominent personalities. Because of his role on the Indian Affairs Committee as well as the sizable Indian constituency in Oklahoma, there is a large number of documents on Indians in the collection. The papers also contain much information on almost every federal construction and social project that occurred in Oklahoma. Researchers can find information on agriculture, drought relief, monetary policy, the Veteran Bonus Bill, social security, Roosevelt's court-packing attempt, defense, demobilization after World War II, and the Marshall Plan. Special correspondence files reveal letters from Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Harry Truman. These same files contain a large amount of correspondence with Scott Ferris (former congressman and Democratic national committeeman from Oklahoma) about politics in the state and nation. Because Thomas was so interested in the welfare of his constituents, it comes as no surprise that the collection is a treasure trove on how Oklahomans were meeting the challenges of the times. Finally, the collection includes a typescript of "Forty Years a Legislator," Thomas's memoirs.

Series titles include:

Campaign Series

1926-1950; 7 cubic feet; includes correspondence, flyers, speeches, and reports of not only Thomas's various campaigns but other state and national campaigns as well. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site. There is also material on campaigns in the Resource Series.

Constituent Services Series

1921-1950; 17 cubic feet; constituent correspondence on the armed forces, post office, employment, appointment of judges and marshals, and individual claims. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Legislative Series

1923-1950; 92 cubic feet; topics in the Thomas Legislative Files include agriculture, cotton production, farm relief, soil conservation, farm prices, Native Americans (including schools, claims, hospitals, and the BIA), currency and monetary policy, Depression relief, the Veterans Bonus Bill, taxes, flood control, water projects, petroleum, social security, and World War II. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Maps Series

1913-1950; 175 maps; primary focus is on highways and flood control projects, especially in Oklahoma. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Miscellaneous Series

1922-1950; 5 cubic feet; includes family, personal, and miscellaneous correspondence as well as biographical material. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Office Series

1927-1950; 12.3 cubic feet; includes appointments, dictation notebooks, invitations, telegrams, lists of visitors, and information on office staff. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Oversize Series

1896-1952; 8 cubic feet; primarily consists of newspapers and scrapbooks. Some of the material is arranged by date while other items are arranged topically. Material is available on campaigns, agriculture, money, the Great Depression, and many other topics. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Projects Series

1929-1950; 22 cubic feet; documents concerning federally-funded programs in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, World War II, and the early postwar period; topics include soil conservation, building construction, rural electrification, irrigation, and flood control. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Resource Series

1920-1950; 16 cubic feet; pamphlets and other printed material collected during Thomas's research on legislation; topics include agriculture, aviation, business, campaign, education, electric power, flood control, highways, money, and social security. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site

Special Correspondence

1926-1950; 4 cubic feet; correspondents include Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, other members of Congress, and Oklahoma politicians. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Speech Series

1924-1950; 3 cubic feet; in addition to Thomas's speeches on a variety of topics, there are also speeches and releases by others. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

Subject Series

1925-1950; 64 cubic feet; topics include agriculture, Civilian Conservation Corps, Fort Sill (Okla.), monetary policy, oil and petroleum, public works projects, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, rural electrification, depression relief, soil conservation, and World War II. There is an inventory for this series available on this web site.

In addition to the box and folder inventories available on this web site, additional cataloging can be accessed at the Carl Albert Center. An excellent group of historical photos are found in the Elmer Thomas Photograph Collection. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.


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