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Herbert L. Thomas Papers

Identifier: MC 249

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence , speeches, pamphlets, clippings, and related published and unpublished materials created, received, or collected by Herbert L. Thomas, businessman and civic leader of Fayetteville and Little Rock, Arkansas who founded (1925) the First Pyramid Life Insurance Company of America and served as its president until 1960 and as chairman of its board of directors thereafter; who became chairman of the board of City National Bank of Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1953; who served as a member (1944-1951) of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and as a member (1951-1953) of the Arkansas State Highway Audit Commission; and who undertook, in 1960, the development of the Eden Isle resort and residential area near Heber Springs, Arkansas.

Material pertains to Thomas' political interests, especially as regards: his role, as Chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees (1945-1951) in the racial integration of the University (1947); his efforts at effecting an orderly integration of Arkansas public schools (1957-1959); his political support (1943-1976) of U.S. Senator James William Fulbright; and his interests in the economic development of Arkansas.

Correspondents (Series l) include: Harry Scott Ashmore, Daisy Lee Gatson Bates, Robert Raymond Brown, Virgil T. Blossom, Arthur Frank Burns, John Tyler Caldwell, James Staton Chase, Orval Eugene Faubus, Arch[ie] W. Ford, James William Fulbright, William J. Good, [Lawrence] Brooks Hays, Robert D. Lowry, Sidney Sanders McMath, David Wiley Mullins, Edward M. Penick, James Ormond Powell, Winthrop Rockefeller, Marshall T. Steel, [Dewitt] Everett Tucker, Jr., Gordon Greenfield Wittenberg.


  • Creation: 1899-1976


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

The founder and president of The First Pyramid Life Insurance Company of America in Little Rock, Herbert Leon Thomas was acutely aware of the importance of financial growth and stability to Arkansas' economy. Born in 1899 in Crossett (Ashley County), Arkansas, Thomas founded The First Pyramid Life Insurance Company of America in Little Rock in 1925. He was Chairman of the Board of the City National Bank of Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Arkansas and the Citizens Bank of Booneville (Logan County), Arkansas, eventually becoming director of the Eden Isle vacation and retirement home project of Heber Springs (Cleburne County), Arkansas. Conscious of the importance of education for financial growth, Thomas served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas from 1943-51. He was instrumental in the admission of the first black student to the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1948. His interests extended beyond economics and education into politics. Although he never ran for political office himself, Thomas was Chairman of the Little Rock Municipal Water Commission from 1937-40 and served on the Highway Audit Commission of Arkansas, 1951-53. His most significant political relationship was with J. William Fulbright, whom Thomas encouraged to run for the United States Senate in 1944. Further information concerning Thomas may be obtained from Who's Who in the Southwest for 1952.


1.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged into 3 series, preserving original filing order (by name of correspondent or by subject, and chronologically thereunder) imposed by creator-donor.

  1. Correspondence, 1943-1976 (19 files)
  2. Speeches and Statements, 1957-1972 (10 files)
  3. Scrapbook and Miscellaneous Printed Materials, 1947-1975 (1 vol. and 4 files)

Acquisition Information

The Herbert L. Thomas Papers were donated to the Special Collections Department by Herbert L. Thomas between March and July of 1976.

Related Materials

Records relating to the Herbert L. Thomas Papers include:

Herbert L. Thomas Papers MC 437

Processing Information

Processed by E. Betty Austin; completed in May 1979.

Herbert L. Thomas Papers
E. Betty Austin
May 1979
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444