Thomas Sutherland Papers:
An Inventory of the Thomas Sutherland Papers at the Texas State Archives, 1942-1945, undated
Thomas Shelton Sutherland was born September 21, 1911, in Uvalde, Texas. After moving with his family to Bell County, Texas, Sutherland hitchhiked throughout Mexico and became fluent in the Spanish language. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received a B.A. and graduated cum laude, and an M.A. in Spanish. From 1929 to 1935, Sutherland served in the Horse Cavalry, 36th Division, 124th Regiment. He also served during World War II as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, Language Officer in the U.S. Navy.
Sutherland completed the requirements for a doctorate at the National University of Mexico in 1940 and studied Russian at the Oriental Language School in Boulder, Colorado, eventually learning to speak seven languages. He taught high school in McCamey, Texas; taught college at the University of Denver and the Universidad Veracruzana, in Xalpa, Mexico; and was coordinator of the Language Training Program for the Peace Corps. Toward the end of his career, he taught at Arlington State College, later renamed as the University of Texas at Arlington.
Sutherland also worked in many international and intercultural arenas. He was a translator for the Texas General Land Office, senior information analyst with the U.S. Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, field agent for the U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs and was briefly an executive secretary of the Good Neighbor Commission of Texas (beginning in 1947). Sutherland also served as the regional director of the Institute of International Education, helped guide desegregation of Texas schools, and worked with the Unitarian Service Committee. Married twice, Sutherland had ten children and sixteen grandchildren. He died in 1991 and is buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
(Sources include: the entry for Thomas Shelton Sutherland on the webpage of the Texas State Cemetery at http://www.cemetery.state.tx.us/pub/user_form.asp?pers_id=2554, accessed on November 17, 2015; and the papers themselves.)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA, originally named the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs) in 1940 to promote better relations between the U.S. and Latin America. The agency soon expanded its functions to include the improvement of Anglo-Hispanic relations in the Southwestern United States. At the request of Thomas Sutherland and others, Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson appointed a six-member Good Neighbor Commission in 1943, emphasizing education, the improvement of housing and health measures for migrant workers, and solutions to human relations problems. The commission was initially funded by the OIAA, then transferred to the State of Texas in 1945. The family of Felix Longoria (a Hispanic soldier killed in action in World War II) was supported by the Commission in its discrimination claim when a mortician refused the services of a funeral home to Longoria. The commission's antidiscrimination stance was attacked unsuccessfully by State Representative J.F. Gray in 1949. Over the years, the commission's roles varied, including counseling and information services, translation for other agencies, efforts to eliminate discrimination, attempts to provide solutions to language problems and generally taking an active part in migrant affairs. Most of the duties of the Good Neighbor Commission were eventually absorbed into other state agencies, and it was abolished in 1987.
(Sources include: Green, George N., "Good Neighbor Commission,"Handbook of Texas Online, accessed on December 15, 2015; and the papers themselves.)
Thomas Sutherland was a translator for the Texas General Land Office, senior information analyst with the U.S. Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, field agent for the U.S. Office of Inter-American Affairs and executive secretary of the Good Neighbor Commission of Texas. The Thomas Sutherland papers are composed of correspondence with the U.S. Office of War Information, the American Consulate in Mexico and private citizens; a newspaper clipping in Spanish and reports on Anglo-Hispanic relations in Texas, including a report by the Good Neighbor Commission. The records date 1942-1945 and undated. The primary topic of the records is discrimination against Mexican Americans in Texas. Some records were marked as confidential at one time, but have since been declassified.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Under the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished manuscripts are protected at a minimum through December 31, 2002, or 70 years after the author's death. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with the Copyright Law.
(Identify the item), Thomas Sutherland papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2001/132
This collection was donated by Lonn Taylor to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission on June 25, 2001.
Processed by Jessica Tucker, December 2015
Detailed Description of the Collection