A Guide to the John William Thomason, Jr., Papers, 1918-1950
John William Thomason, Jr. (1893-1944), author, artist, and United States Marine Corps captain, was born in Huntsville, Texas, on February 28, 1893. During his life, he attended several universities, institutes, and colleges, including Southwestern University, Sam Houston Normal Institute, the University of Texas, the Art Students League in New York, and the Army and Navy War colleges. Before joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1917, he taught school, worked as a school principal, wrote for the Houston Chronicle, and trained as a member of the Citizens Military Training Corps in San Antonio.
As a marine in World War I, Thomason fought in numerous engagements and battles in France, such as the battles of Belleau Wood, Château-Thierry, Saint-Mihiel, Soissons, and Mont Blanc Ridge. Following the war, Thomason was stationed in Cuba, Nicaragua, and China, as well as served aboard the USS Rochester. Additionally, he worked as an aide for Assistant Secretary of the Navy Henry Roosevelt and for the Office of Naval Intelligence. In 1944, Thomason died in San Diego, California, while performing military duties related to World War II. Following his death, a portion of the Marine Base in Quantico, Virginia, a navy destroyer, and the Graphic Arts Building at Sam Houston State University were named for him.
Between WWI and WWII, Thomason wrote eleven books and over 60 articles. His books include Fix Bayonets (1926), Jeb Stuart (1930), Gone to Texas (1937), and Lone Star Preacher (1941). Additionally, he published articles, concerning WWI, military service, and Texas, in American Mercury, Scribner's, and the Saturday Evening Post. His writing style is often labeled as “realistic romanticism.” As an artist, he limited himself to illustrating his own work, mainly in pen and ink, occasionally using watercolors.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Thomas, John William, Jr.,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/fth13.html (accessed July 30, 2010).
Newspaper clippings, letters, a photograph, an engraving, and a manuscript comprise the John William Thomason, Jr., Papers, 1918-1950, and relate to Thomason’s life and career as a United States Marine Corps Captain, author, and artist. The newspaper clippings include historical narratives, articles relating to World War II, and obituaries and reflect Thomason’s personal life and interests in Texas, the military, and the Civil War. Additionally, the collection contains clippings of Thomason’s World War I recollections, “Fix Bayonets,” published in the Houston Chronicle, as well as two letters from the Saturday Evening Post. The photograph depicts an unidentified portrait and the engraving shows an unidentified Confederate General.
“Second Division Northwest of Château-Thierry, June 1-July 10, 1918,” a photocopy of an unpublished, unfinished manuscript written by Thomason, concerns preliminary actions to the second battle of the Marne and the role of American units in the allied counteroffensive following the German offensive of May 1918. The manuscript details the movements, operations, and actions of American, French, and German units deployed in the area around Château-Thierry, France.
The collection is open for research use.
John William Thomason, Jr., Papers, 1918-1950, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Revised by John Orange, September 1973. Revised by Megan Mummey, July 2010
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers