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Seth Thomas Papers

Identifier: MsC0101

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Scope and Contents

The papers of Seth Thomas consist of 292 items dating from 1904 through 1962. Judge Thomas' life and career are documented in this collection, from a genealogy of the Thomas family to memorials for the judge himself. His years spent as an educator are reflected in speeches, correspondence, and material from the Iowa Schoolmasters Walt Whitman Club. His legal and judicial careers are chronicled with speeches, court cases, and correspondence including letters from Henry N. Graven and John B. Sanborn.


  • Creation: 1904-1962


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Seth Thomas (1873-1962) began his career teaching school in West Virginia. In 1893, he became the principal of public schools in Mason City, West Virginia. During the summers he attended college, enrolling in summer sessions at Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, and at the University of West Virginia at Morgantown. Thomas moved to Iowa in 1900, where he worked as a traveling salesman for a seed house in Independence. Returning to college, he attended the University of Iowa from 1901-1902. In 1902, he again became a principal, this time of a high school in Washington, Iowa. This time he attended summer sessions at the University of Iowa and earned his in Ph.B. (1904), M.A. (1906), and LL.B. (1910).

Thomas was admitted to the bar in 1910 and began practicing law. He was the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from 1914 through 1921. In 1933, he was appointed Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Two years later he became a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge for Iowa's 8th Circuit. Judge Thomas remained in that position until his retirement in 195


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Judge and educator. Subject files and correspondence documenting his career. Includes speeches, court cases, genealogy, and memorial tribute.

Method of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the University of Iowa in 1964 by the judge's son, Reynolds Brown Thomas.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)