Herbert C. Thompson papers , 1864-1960

Overview of the Collection

Thompson, Herbert Cooper
Herbert C. Thompson papers
1864-1960 (inclusive)
8 linear feet, (20 containters)
Collection Number
Ax 067
American journalist and historian Herbert Cooper Thompson worked as a reported for the Associated Press in England and France during World War I and in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution from 1916 to 1918. From 1924 to 1940, he worked as a writer and observer for the American Red Cross, visiting Cuba, Puerto Rico and Europe. Collection comprises diaries, correspondence, literary manuscripts, and photographs by Thompson.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Herbert Cooper Thompson, journalist and writer, was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1875, the son of Judge J. M. Thompson. (Judge Thompson, one of Lane County's first lawyers, was president of the Union University Association, the group of Eugene residents which promoted Eugene as the location for the state university in the 1860's. The judge was later a member of the first board of regents for the University of Oregon.)

Herbert C. Thompson attended the University of Oregon in the early 1890's, and completed his education at Stanford University, graduating in 1896. In 1898, he joined the Company C, Oregon Volunteers, and served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war.

He began his journalistic career as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, from 1900 to 1910. He then served as an Associated Press reporter from 1912 to 1920, assigned to England and France during World War I and to the Mexican Revolution, 1916 to 1918. From 1924 to 1940, he was employed as a writer and observer for the American Red Cross, visiting Cuba, Puerto Rico and Europe. He became editor of the Red Cross magazine Courier in 1948, a post he held for four years.

A respected writer and historian, Thompson contributed articles to a number of publications including the New York Times Magazine, the Literary Digest and the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Be was a member of the National Press Club and the Overseas Writers group, both based in Washington D. C., his home from 1924 to 1948.

Thompson retired, with his wife, Elizabeth (there was an unhappy earlier marriage), to Santa Cruz, California. He died October 12, 1960.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The first portion of the collection is comprised of 58 diaries, most belonging to Herbert C. Thompson, containing detailed descriptions of places and events. The diaries provided source material for his newspaper accounts and magazine articles, and cover such topics as the Philippines campaign (diaries #6-8), the San Francisco earthquake and fire, written after the event (diary #11) and Thompson's observations of Europe during World War I, plus accounts of his numerous trips. Detailed descriptions of the first 33 volumes of the diaries may be found in the attached guide.

Thompson's early letters, 1883-1900, include a series from and to his mother, when he was at Stanford University and in the Philippines. Later correspondence is with other newspapermen and friends. There is a series of letters from an uncle, William Thompson, a newspaperman in Alturas, California, written from 1912-1934. Another series of letters,1920-1926, is from writer Thomas Dykes Bailey of Santa Cruz, California.

The papers include manuscripts of many of Thompson's articles and books, including a history of the Philippines campaign, "War Without Medals" (excerpts from this work were published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 59, pp. 293-325), and the unpublished novel, "The Senator Runs Again." There is also an unorganized manuscript, "Notes on Europe, 1912-1916," which discusses newspapers and newspaper work. Loose papers in the collection include Philippine Island newspapers, 1898, and Mexican Revolution broadsides, photographs and mementos.

With the H. C. Thompson papers is a series of letters, 1864-1882, to his father, Judge John M. Thompson, and notes and speeches by J. M. Thompson. Major correspondents include Joseph Lane, Matthew Deady, Robert S. Bean and Cincinnatus H. Miller [Joaquin Miller].

The photographs include family portraits and images from Thompson's travels. Most of the prints are arranged by location. Photographs in this collection concern the following subjects and dates: Philippines, Spanish-American War, WWI, Mexico, Hawaii, SF earthquake.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Journalists--United States--Correspondence
  • San Francisco Earthquake, Calif., 1906
  • Spanish-American War, 1898--Journalists
  • World War, 1914-1918--Journalists

Personal Names

  • Thompson, Herbert Cooper
  • Thompson, Herbert Cooper
  • Thompson, Herbert Cooper

Corporate Names

  • University of Oregon

Geographical Names

  • Mexico--History--Revolution, 1910-1920

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Negatives
  • Nitrate negatives
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographic prints
  • Safety film negatives