Guide to the Thomas Family Papers, 1895-1968

Department of Special Collections
Green Library
Stanford University Libraries
Stanford, CA 94305-6004
Phone: (650) 725-1022
Email: speccollref@stanford.edu
URL: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/spc/
© 1999
The Board of Trustees of Stanford University. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Thomas Family Papers, 1895-1968

Collection number: M0260

Department of Special Collections and University Archives

Stanford University Libraries

Stanford, California

Contact Information

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Green Library
  • Stanford University Libraries
  • Stanford, CA 94305-6004
  • Phone: (650) 725-1022
  • Email: speccoll@sulmail.stanford.edu
  • URL: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/spc/
Processed by:
Special Collections staff
Date Completed:
1986
© 1999 The Board of Trustees of Stanford University. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Thomas Family Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1895-1968
Collection number: Special Collections M0260
Creator: Thomas family
Extent: 4 linear ft.
Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

None.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.

Provenance

Gift of Mary Denison Wilt Thomas, 1973, 1981 and 1983, and James D. Adams, 1981 and 1983.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] Thomas Family Papers, M0260, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

Biographical Note : Jerome and Denison Thomas

Jerome Beers Thomas, Jr., who came from a prominent family in Brooklyn, New York, was the son of a physician who had served in the Civil War. The date of birth of Jerome Thomas, Jr., is unknown, but it is known that he followed his father into medicine. Where young Thomas attended medical school is also unknown, but his specialty was eye, ear, nose, and throat.
Mary Dension Wilt and Dr. Jerome Beers Thomas, Jr., had been married four years when he was sent in 1900 to the Philippine Islands as a contract surgeon for the U.S. Army. According to Denison, as she was called, Jerome had offered his services to the Navy when the war with Spain was declared in the spring of 1898, but the boats made him too sick and he transferred his services to the Army. Although the Spanish-American War ended in December 1898, The United States still maintained an Army presence after the war in the Islands with the dual mission of putting down insurrection, which had reasserted itself after the peace treaty was signed, and of seeing that the U.S. Commission established under the treaty could go about its work in relative safety while preparing the Philippines for democratic self-government after its 300 years as a Spanish colony.
Denison Wilt was born in Dayton, Ohio, and was graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. By her own account, she was an avid student and a keen member of the women's rowing crew. She also developed a precise talent for sketching and watercolor painting. She cheerfully said goodbye to her husband when she learned of his new posting to the Philippines, knowing that she could soon join him, now that formal hostilities had ended.
Jerome left from New York for the Philippines, traveling east by Army transport to Gibralter, Port Said, Suez, Ceylon, and Singapore to Manila. Denison sailed from San Francisco a few weeks later, also by Army transport ship, sailing by way of Hawaii and Japan to Manila. Their first home in the Philippines was at Angeles, not far from Manila. From there, Jerome was sent to Apalit, where he became so popular among the villagers that the Filipinos name a street after him. While Jerome was occupied treating civilians and soldiers, the latter mainly for dengue fever and dysentery contracted in their campaigns to root out insurrection, Denison maintained her house, studied Spanish, grew to know the people, and explored the countryside, her camera and pencil always at the ready. She made friends wherever she went and was rarely without company. A frequent companion was Miss Mercy Brett, Jerome's cousin, who had come out to the Islands with Denison on leave from her job in Ohio at a Soldier's Home.
From Apalit, Jerome was sent to Taglibaran (Bohol Province), where he served not only in the field hospital but joined the troops occasionally on their sorties into the hills after guerillas. He was given a commission in the U. S. Army as a Captain, and in March 1902 was rushed to Manila to help combat an epidemic of cholora. Later that year, the Thomases were among those sent to Baguio (Benguet Province), when the mountain village was transformed, with Army help, into the Philippine summer capital, owing to its cooler altitidues, away from Manila's stifling summer heat. Here, Jerome oversaw the building of a large, modern hospital and was named to be its director at its completion. Baguio remained the Thomas's home until they returned to the United States in 1905.
Denison and Jerome Thomas enjoyed the friendship of a number of highly placed U.S. officials in the Philippines, including High Commissioner, and later Governor General, William Howard Taft, formerly a judge in Cincinnati, Ohion, and his successor, Luke C. Wright. Commissioners Henry Clay Ide, Bernard Moses, and in particular, Dean C. Worcester and his family, were also their friends. These connections brought the young couple into the white-linen-suit circles typical of the upper ends of society in several tropical countries of the period that were under foreign protectorates. As a consequence, the Thomas letters contain many references to dinner parties, balls, picnics, and horseback trips into the bush. But along with these diversions of their circle of friends, the Thomases were genuinely interested in U.S. and Philippine relations and in their surroundings and friends among the Filipinos and native peoples of the Islands. They spent many hours recording their experiences in writing, sketching, and photographing what they saw and heard.
Details of the Thomas's life on their return to the United States are few. It appears that Jerome resumed his practice in the New York, from late 1905 to 1910, when he became ill, and was advised by his physicians to seek a warmer climate. The couple chose California, living in Santa Cruz for a time, and then settling in Palo Alto in 1913. Jerome became a well-respected physician in his specialty, practicing until 1917. Dension took an active role in civic affairs, becoming one of two women to first be elected to the Palo Alto City Council in 1919-1923. During her tenure she was instrumental in the City's acquistion of some 930 acres of bayside marshland, and after her City Council days, she served on Palo Alto's Planning Commission. She was a member of the Sierra Club, and, although the couple had no children, she was very active in the Parent-Teacher Association. Both Denison and Jerome served on the Palo Alto Board of Public Safety. In World War I, they were active in Belgian War Relief, and on the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies in World War II.
The couple lived at 1432 Webster Street in Palo Alto. Jerome died in 1948, and Denison, a charter member of the retirement community of Channing House, died on July 1, 1983, at the age of 108.

Scope and Content

The Thomas Family Papers collection consists of seven boxes (4 linear feet) of letters, notebooks, diaries, photograph albums and photos, ephemera, and newspapers and new clips pertaining to the lives of Jerome Beers Thomas, Jr., and his wife, Mary Denison (Wilt) Thomas. Boxes 1 through 5 are legal sized, Box 6 is regular sized, and Box 7 (newspapers) is a print box. Some photographs have nitrate negatives, and these have been removed to the nitrate negative file (File 192).
Most of the collection is devoted to the Thomas's stay in the Philippine Islands, 1900-1905, during Jerome Thomas's service as a U. S. Army surgeon, immediately after the Spanish-American War. The collection presents a clear and astute view of U.S.-Philippine relations during that period, as well as an informative and pictorial view of village life and the countryside in the hinterland of the Islands. It also reveals aspects of military operations in the Philippines during this period, which are not often the topics of studies or books.
A small portion of the collection is devoted to letters from a French family befriended by the Thomases in the years following World War I. Some memorabilia also remain on Camp Fremont (U.S. Army) in Palo Alto-Menlo Park, California, during World War I. In addition, a few letters from notables are in the collection (i. e., Jane Addams).

Container List

 

Thomas Family Correspondence: 1900-1965

Box 1, Folder 1

Jerome B. Thomas, Letters to Family: March-June 1900

Physical Description: (10 letters)

Scope and Content Note

Life aboard a US Army transport. Descriptions of Gibralter, Malta, Suez Canal, Port Said, Ceylon, Manila, Angeles (PI.), General Leonard Wood. _._. Sprague, US Consul, Gibralter. Major General [William Dent] Grant. Philippine climate and disease.
Box 1, Folder 2

Jerome B. Thomas, Letters to Family: June-December 1900

Physical Description: (15 letters)

Scope and Content Note

Descriptions of Philippine Islands; US Army Medical practice, Philippine Islands, during and after Spanish-American War (1898-1900). Apalit, Calumpit, Philippine Islands. US Commissioners for PI.: William Howard Taft, Henry Clay Ide, Bernard Moses.
Box 1, Folder 3

Jerome B. Thomas, Letters to Family: January-December 1901

Physical Description: (21 letters)

Scope and Content Note

Apalit, Taglibaran, Lobac, PI. Manila (Army) Hospital No. 3. General Arthur MacArthur. General Fred[erick] Grant. Philippine Insurgents, [Emilio] Aquinaldo, Samson.
Box 1, Folder 4

Jerome B. Thomas, Letters to Family: January 1902-April 1903

Physical Description: (29 letters)

Scope and Content Note

Taglibaran, Manila, Baguio, PI. Igarrotes. William Howard Taft (illness). Vice-governor [Luke] Wright, PI. [No further letters by JBT for 1903]
Box 1, Folder 5

Jerome B. Thomas, Letters to Family: January 1904-February 1905

Physical Description: (28 letters)

Scope and Content Note

Manila and Baguio, PI. Governor [Luke] Wright. Vice Governor [Henry] Ide. US Commissioner Cameron Forbes. USS Korea v. Russian Squadron. Igarrotes. Benguet Road [PI.] Edwin Hurd Conger (US Minister to China).
Box 1, Folder 6

Correspondence, Philippine Officials to Jerome B. Thomas: 1901-1903

Physical Description: [in Spanish] (9 documents)

Scope and Content Note

Street named for JB Thomas, request for JBT's continued presence, invitation to a church dedication.
Box 1, Folder 7

Jerome B. Thomas Letters To/From US Government Officials: 1940-1941

Physical Description: (11 letters)
Box 1, Folder 8

Mary Denison Wilt Thomas, Letters to Family: April-July 1900

Physical Description: (11 letters-some duplicates)

Scope and Content Note

USS Hancock, Army Transport. Hong Kong. Angeles, and Apalit, PI. William Howard Taft.
Box 1, Folder 9

Denison W. Thomas, Letters to Family: July-December 1900

Physical Description: (15 letters-some duplicates)

Scope and Content Note

Apalit PI., village life. Aguinaldo, General Buencamino.
Box 1, Folder 10

Denison W. Thomas, Letters to Family: January-June 1901

Physical Description: (12 letters-some duplicates)

Scope and Content Note

Apalit, Manila, PI. Insurgent Aguinaldo, Buencamino, Arnedo.
Box 1, Folder 11

Denison W. Thomas, Letters to Family: July-October 1901

Physical Description: (11 letters-some duplicates)

Scope and Content Note

Taglibaran, PI. Village life of US medical man and family in Philippines. Descriptions of locale and natives.
Box 1, Folder 12

Denison W. Thomas, Letters to Family: November-December 1901

Physical Description: (14 letters-some duplicates)

Scope and Content Note

Village life. Insurgents Aguinaldo and Buencamino.
Box 1, Folder 13

Denison W. Thomas, Letters to Family: January 1902-June 1904

Scope and Content Note

Taglibaran and Baguio, PI. Philippine society.
Box 1, Folder 14

Miscellaneous Drafts and Notes: c1900-1905

Physical Description: (9 items)
Box 1, Folder 15

Correspondence to Thomas Family from Friends in the Philippine Islands: 1905-1907

Physical Description: (6 letters and cards)
Box 1, Folder 16

Correspondence to Thomas Family from Worcester Family, PI: 1919, 1931

Physical Description: (3 letters and cards)

Scope and Content Note

(see also Box 5, Folder 25)
Box 1, Folder 17

Letter from Jane Addams to Denison Thomas: December 2, 1911

Physical Description: (1 letter)

Scope and Content Note

(83-57)
Box 1, Folder 18

Letter from Ellen Coit Elliott to Denison Thomas: April 1, 1953

Physical Description: (1 letter)

Scope and Content Note

(83-58)
Box 1, Folder 19

Postcard from Edna [?] to Denison Thomas: August 8, 1912

Physical Description: (1 postcard)

Scope and Content Note

(83-59)
Box 1, Folder 20

Correspondence to Denison Thomas from Family DeBrun: 1919-1920

Physical Description: [in French] (18 letters and photos),

Scope and Content Note

(83-60)
Box 1, Folder 21

Correspondence to Denison Thomas from Family DeBrun: 1922-1927

Physical Description: [in French] (16 letters, some photos)

Scope and Content Note

(83-60)
Box 1, Folder 22

Cards to the Thomas Family from Relatives and Stanford University Friends

Physical Description: (3 items)
Box 1, Folder 23

Christmas card to Dr. and Mrs. Jerome Thomas from Mr. & Mrs. Yvor Winters. Photograph of art work by Tomita Pena 1927

Scope and Content Note

(84-012)
 

Diaries, Notebooks, Reports, Sketches

Box 2, Folder 1

Diary, Denison W. Thomas, PI.: 1902

Scope and Content Note

(and 1 page of Diary, PI. 1904)
Box 2, Folder 2

Notes on Philippine Islands by Denison Thomas: 1900-1905?

Scope and Content Note

(handwritten) n.d. (? pages)
Box 2, Folder 3

Notebook, Denison W. Thomas: 1895

Box 2, Folder 4

Accounts Notebook, Denison W. Thomas, PI: 1902

Scope and Content Note

(83-56)
Box 2, Folder 5

Notebook, Denison W. Thomas: 1913-1964

Box 2, Folder 6

Notebook, Denison W. Thomas: 1966-1968

Box 2, Folder 7

Reports on Civil Sanitarium, Baguio, PI: 1902-1903

Scope and Content Note

1. Report on Civil Sanitarium (3 pages) to the Secretary of the Interior, by Jerome B. Thomas.
2. Printed Circular on Civil Sanitarium, Baguio, PI.: 1903. (4 pages)
Folder 8

Reports on Benguet Road [Baguio]: 1903

Physical Description: (16 pages)

Scope and Content Note

1. By Major McKennon.
2. Building of the Benguet Road by Arthur Page (? pages)
Box 2, Folder 9

Weather Reports, Baguio, PI: 1904

Physical Description: (4 reports)
Box 2, Folder 10

Report on Mirador Observatory [Weather], Baguio, PI: 1909

Physical Description: (20 pages)
Box 2, Folder 11

Philippine Island Maps: 1900-1905?

Scope and Content Note

1. Baguio to Bontoc
2. Cervantes to Sagrada (elev.) (Hand-drawn) (2 pages)
Box 2, Folder 12

Miscellaneous WWI and Belgian War Relief Committee: 1916-1918

Physical Description: (12 items)

Scope and Content Note

See also Box 7.
Box 2, Folder 13

Philippine Independence Question: 1916

Physical Description: (3 news clips)
Box 2, Folder 14

Report on the Fauna of Rancho, La Brea, Part I: Occurrence, by JC Merriam, Berkeley, CA. 1911

Physical Description: (24 pages)
Box 2, Folder 15

Report on the Fauna of Rancho, La Brea, Part II: Canidae, by JC Merriam, Berkeley, CA. 1911

Physical Description: (50 pages)
Box 2, Folder 16

Report on the Fossils of the Pleistocene, Rancho La Brea, Berkeley, CA. 1911

Physical Description: (2 Reports) (19 pages)
Box 2, Folder 17

Plot-Plan Map of Oakland, California: 1912

Physical Description: (1 sheet)

Scope and Content Note

(83-60)
Box 2, Folder 18

Report on Glacial Land Forms in the Sierra Nevada: South of Lake Tahoe, by Wellington Jones, Berkeley, CA. 1929

Physical Description: (157 pages)
Box 2, Folder 19

Report on Pleistocene Life, Rancho, La Brea: by Chester Stock, Los Angeles, CA. 1930

Physical Description: (82 pages)
Box 2, Folder 20

Woman's City Club Magazine, San Francisco: March 1938

Physical Description: (31 pages)
Box 2, Folder 21

Pen and Ink Sketch Book, PI, Denison W. Thomas: 1900

Box 2, Folder 22

Watercolor Sketch, Old Sugar Mill at Apalit, Denison W. Thomas, PI. 1900

Physical Description: (1 sheet)
Box 3

Sketch Book, Denison W. Thomas, PI: 1901-1905

 

Sketches and Photographs

Box 4, Folder 1

Pen and Ink Sketches, Denison W. Thomas, Taglibaran, PI: 1901

Physical Description: (2 sheets)
Box 4, Folder 2

Pen and Ink Sketches, Denison W. Thomas: 1900s

Physical Description: (2 sketches)
Box 4, Folder 3

Photograph Albums, Life in the Philippines,: 1900

Physical Description: (2 albums)

Scope and Content Note

Photos by Denison W. and Jerome B. Thomas. William Howard Taft, Bernard Moses, Don Juan Blanco, Dr. Jerome B. Thomas and Mrs. Denison W. Thomas, Macabebe Scouts.
Box 4, Folder 4

Photo Album, Philippine Islands: 1900-1903

Box 4, Folder 5

Photo Album, Philippine Islands, Recuerdo: 1900

Box 4, Folder 6

Photo Album, Philippine Islands, Benguet Series: 1903-1905?

Box 4, Folder 7

Photo Album, Philippine Islands, n.d.: 1900-1905?

 

Photo Albums and Photographs

Box 5, Folder 1

Photo Album, Camp Hay, Philippine Islands: 1910

Box 5, Folder 2

Mounted Photos, Philippine Islands, by J.B. Thomas: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (9 photos)
Box 5, Folder 3

Mounted Photos, Philippine Islands: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (21 photos)
Box 5, Folder 4

Mounted Photos, Philippine Islands: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (18 photos-some labeled)
Box 5, Folder 5

Mounted Photo, Water Buffalo, n.d.

Physical Description: (1 photo)
Box 5, Folder 6

Views of Manila and Angeles, PI., n.d.

Physical Description: (9 loose photos)

Scope and Content Note

(Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate Negative File, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 7

6 Views of Taglibaran, PI., n.d.

Physical Description: (6 loose photos)

Scope and Content Note

(Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate Negative File, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 8

Panorama View, Baguio, PI: 1902?

Box 5, Folder 9

Government Center, Baguio, PI: 1902?

Physical Description: (10 photos)
Box 5, Folder 10

Miscellaneous Views, Baguio, PI., n.d.

Physical Description: (55 loose photos)

Scope and Content Note

Baguio landscapes and buildings.
Box 5, Folder 11

Miscellaneous Views, Baguio, PI: 1902-1904

Physical Description: (35 loose photos)

Scope and Content Note

Mrs. Kelly's school, houses (Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate File, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 12

Philippine Natives: 1900-1904

Physical Description: (75 loose photos)
Box 5, Folder 13

Philippine Villages, Natives and Flora: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (45 loose photos)
Box 5, Folder 14

Miscellaneous Views, PI.: 1900-1905?

Physical Description: (17 loose photos-unlabeled)
Box 5, Folder 15

Philippine Personalities: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (6 loose photos) _,

Scope and Content Note

Buencamino, Otto Scherer, Mateo Cariño. (see also Box 4, Folder 4)
Box 5, Folder 16

US Army Troops, PI.: 1900-1905

Physical Description: (7 loose photos)
Box 5, Folder 17

Philippine Flora and Landscapes: 1900-1905?

Physical Description: (9×12 in.) (5 loose photos)
Box 5, Folder 18

View from Pali, Honolulu: 1900?

Physical Description: (1 loose photo)
Box 5, Folder 19

Women of Port Said: 1900?

Physical Description: (1 loose photo)
Box 5, Folder 20

Spanish Fleet Entering Suez Canal: 1900?

Physical Description: (1 loose photo)
Box 5, Folder 21

Temple, n.d.

Physical Description: (1 loose photo-unlabeled)
Box 5, Folder 22

Native Village: 1900-1905?

Physical Description: (1 loose photo-unlabeled)
Box 5, Folder 23

Colombo, Ceylon: 1900?

Physical Description: (2 loose photos)
Box 5, Folder 24

Kuan Yin, n.d.

Physical Description: (8×10 in.) (1 loose photo)
Box 5, Folder 25

Worcester Family and House, PI:

Physical Description: (11 loose photos)

Scope and Content Note

(see also Box 1, Folder 16) (Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate Negative File, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 26

Tinted Postcards, Philippine Islands: 1917

Physical Description: (7 postcards)

Scope and Content Note

(Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate Negative Tile, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 27

Stereoptican Slides of Germany: 1900s?

Physical Description: (6 mounted photos)
Box 5, Folder 28

Miscellaneous Photos and Postcards, California, n.d.

Physical Description: (4 photos, 6 postcards)

Scope and Content Note

(Nitrate Negatives removed to Nitrate File, Photo 192)
Box 5, Folder 29

Miscellaneous Envelopes

 

Diary and Thomas Ephemera

Box 6, Folder 1

Diary, Mercy Brett, Volumes I and II: 1903-1904

Scope and Content Note

(contains photos also)
Box 6, Folder 2

Diary, Mercy Brett, Volume III: 1904-1905

Scope and Content Note

(contains photos also)
Thomas Family Ephemera (boxed) (13 items)
Box 6, Folder 3

Horsehair from Moro Pony

Print Box 7

17 Newspapers and News clips, Philippine Islands and US papers 1899-1957

Scope and Content Note

(includes 6 articles in the newspaper (Dayton, Ohio) by Denison Thomas on the Philippines)