Prepared by Scott L. Bills; Updated and revised by Rhonda Rinehart, May 2005; Updated December 2011.
19 record storage boxes, 1 half-size record storage box, 2 document cases, 1
media box, 20.5 cubic feet, 12th floor
Charles A. Thomas was born on August 8, 1942 at Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
After service in the U.S. Army, he received a B.A. degree in history from Temple
University in 1965 and earned a master's degree, also in history, from Duke
University in 1966. Thomas was subsequently employed by the National Archives
in Washington D.C. from 1968-80.
Thomas became interested in Kent State in the early 1970s while working as
a Specialist in the Audiovisual Archives Division of the National Archives in
Washington, DC, where he was assigned the task of archiving the files of the
Scranton Commission. In 1976, after analyzing motion pictures of the May 1970
events at Kent State, Thomas viewed a film that previously had been presented
before the President's Commission on
Campus Unrest during the summer of 1970. He raised questions as to whether
the original version of the film had been tampered with, and he charged openly
in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article that the film had been "doctored."
During this time period, Thomas became involved in a major research project
on the shootings. Thomas came to the conclusion that the shootings at Kent State
were the result of Nixon's desire to suppress the student protest movement and
Governor Rhodes' willingness to accommodate Nixon's request.
Following a series of disputes between Thomas and the National Archives over
his publicizing of his research work on the shootings and other job performance
problems claimed by the agency, Thomas was transferred to Philadelphia--a move
he claimed was an effective demotion and punishment by his employer. On March
5, 1980, Thomas testified before the House Subcommittee on the Civil Service
(in relation to the whistleblower protection provisions of the Civil Service
Reform Act of 1978). His testimony included his account of the ill treatment
he received from his employer after he had made statements about Kent State
to the press. After his participation in the House Subcommittee hearing, Thomas
was fired by the National Archives.
From 1980-1983, Thomas joined the U.S. Federal Protective Service as a Regional
Training Officer and was responsible for ensuring 600 officers in a five-state
region were kept current in all phases of their criminal justice training.
After 1983, Thomas devoted most of his time to his continuing research and
writing projects while also holding a number of miscellaneous jobs. He conducted
research on the Kent State shootings for over twenty-five years and produced
a number of book-length manuscripts on the topic (none of which has ever been
commercially published). Additionally, Thomas wrote a several novels, also unpublished.
He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2001 from which he recovered, but
in 2002 he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died on December 2, 2003 at the
age of 61.
Scope and Content
The Charles Thomas papers were first placed at Kent State University on August
18, 1980. Thomas sent manuscripts and associated papers throughout the following
years, and a large addition of papers was received in 2004, following Thomas'
The papers include biographical information on Thomas, research notes and sources
for his non-fiction works relating to the Kent State shootings, manuscripts
for his writings (both non-fiction and fiction), correspondence related to his
research and to and from publishers, as well as a group of personal correspondence
to and from his long-time friend Fielding McGehee. Also present are subject
files, reports, and publications gathered by Thomas in the course of conducting
his research into the Kent State shootings. There is a significant amount of
material on the court cases associated with the Kent State shootings gathered
by Thomas for his research. Additionally, Thomas compiled large numbers of bibliographical
entries on information sources related to the Kent State shootings. These were
recorded on cards or in notebooks (see Series 3, Boxes 64 and 64A). The materials
in this collection date from 1970 through 2003.
While the bulk of this collection pertains to Thomas' investigation of the
Kent State Shootings, a sizeable portion of the collection includes his fictional
writings. For an overview of the content of his novels, please see "Notes
on Charles Thomas' Novels" by Fielding McGehee (pdf file).
Thomas donated to the Kent State University Archives all literary and property
rights that he possessed in these materials except for his e-books. Links to
his e-books are provided in series 10, at the end of this finding aid. For information
on rights associated with Thomas' unpublished books, please contact the Department
of Special Collections and Archives.
Description of Series:
Series 1: Biographical (Boxes 62 and 62A) Series 2: Correspondence (Box 63) Series 3: Research Materials (Boxes 64-64D) Series 4: Subject Files (Boxes 64E-64F) Series 5: Reports (Box 64G) Series 6: Publications (Box 64H) Series 7: Manuscripts (Kent State-related non-fiction)
(Boxes 64I-64L) Series 8: Manuscripts (fiction/novels) (Boxes 64M-64R) Series 9: Miscellaneous media (Box 64S) Series 10: Links to Thomas e-books
May 4 Collection -- Box 62
Series 1: Biographical and Miscellaneous
Folder -- Contents
Biographical Information: Resumes/Vitae; Miscellaneous biographical notes
and documents including Army discharge papers; Biographical note compiled
by Fielding McGehee
Master's Thesis, ["The Strategy of Hysteria: The Roots of Air Strategy
in the Popular Reaction to the Terror Bombing of England, 1914-1918], by Charles
A. Thomas III, Duke University, 1966
National Archives Chronologies, 1968-1985
National Archives Surveillance Files, [chronological outline of Thomas dossier],
National Archives Surveillance Files, [April 11, 1973-January 12, 1976]
Personal Papers, [Kent State and National Archives personnel actions, January
9, 1976-June 23, 1976]
National Archives Surveillance Files, [June 25, 1976-April 7, 1978]
National Archives Surveillance Files, [September 14, 1978-March 29, 1979]
National Archives Surveillance Files, [April 11, 1979-June 14, 1979]
National Archives Surveillance Files, [July 31, 1979-November 21, 1979]
National Archives Surveillance Files, [includes statement by Thomas before
House Subcommittee], January 1980-December 17, 1982
National Archives Surveillance Files, [December 17, 1982-December 1983]
Merit Board Decision, [Charles Thomas vs. General Services Administration],
August 30, 1984
Obituaries/Death Notices, December 2003
Notebook clippings about Thomas and Kent State shootings
Transcripts, grade reports, certificates, diplomas, miscellaneous biographical
documents and notes
Miscellaneous: "Select List: The Road to Armaggedon: The Development
of the Strategic Air Offensive as Miliatry Policy" [appears to be an
outline and list of sources, possibly for an exhibition or publication on
the topic], [no date]
Miscellaneous: Handwritten notes by Thomas about federal grants in the Urban
Renewal Program, [no date]
May 4 Collection -- Box 62A
Series 1: Biographical
May 4 Collection -- Box 63
Series 2: Correspondence
Research correspondence, 1977
Research correspondence, 1978
Miscellaneous, 1975-1989 [Note includes several letters from Dan L. Bahmer
containing much discussion of National Archives (NARA) and GAO investigation
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1979
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1980
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1981
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1982
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1983
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1984
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1985
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1986
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1987-1989
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1990-1996
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 1997-1999
Personal, [to Fielding McGehee], 2000-2002
Personal, [from Fielding McGehee], 1991
Personal, [from Fielding McGehee], 1998-2002
Business, [to/from miscellaneous publishers]
May 4 Collection -- Box 64
Series 3: Research Materials
This box contains 14 folders of miscellaneous bibliographic references handwritten
by Thomas on note cards concerning the Kent State shootings
May 4 Collection -- Box 64A
Series 3: Research Materials
This box contains 24 folders of miscellaneous bibliographic references handwritten
by Thomas on note cards and in notebooks concerning the Kent State shootings
May 4 Collection -- Box 64B
Series 3: Research Materials
Haldeman Journals, [April-May 1970] [Note: H. R. Haldeman was a
Nixon aid and author of The Ends of Power (1978) and The Haldeman
Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House (1994).]
Haldeman Journals, [June-July 1970]
Haldeman Journals, [August-October 1970]
Haldeman Notes, [April 1970]
Haldeman Notes, [May 1970]
Haldeman Notes, [June 1970]
Haldeman Notes, [July 1970]
Kent State materials, [includes clippings, inventories, research notes,
Kent State materials, [includes deposition transcripts, copy of president's
commission on campus unrest, status report on research project], 1977
Kent State materials, [includes telephone conversation records, research
notes and updates, questionnaires], 1977
Kent State materials, [includes notes from previously restricted FBI files,
clippings, correspondence, and handwritten notes by Thomas], 1978
Kent State materials, [includes "KENFOUR" notes, questionnaires,
Kent State materials, [includes correspondence, status reports on research
project, partial "KENFOUR" draft], 1979
Kent State materials, [comic strips, clippings], [no date]
Nixon Papers, [White House correspondence], 1969-1971
Nixon Papers, [White House correspondence and records]
ACLU Files, [National Guard, police, etc.]
Kent State University police records, [sent to Thomas from KSU Archives]
U.S. Department of Justice files, [sent to Thomas from KSU Archives]
May 4 Collection -- Box 64C
Series 3: Research Materials
Weapons History, [hand-drawn chart]
Memorandum by David Engdahl, "Kent State Civil Cases" [January
Memorandum by David Engdahl, "Did Sgt. Pryor Shoot?" [January
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder A"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder B"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder C"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder D"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder E"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder F"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder G"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder H"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder I"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder J"
Miscellaneous Kent State notes, "Binder K"
Miscellaneous handwritten notes
May 4 Collection -- Box 64D
Series 3: Research Materials
Ohio National Guard documents, [includes reports and statements]
Proclamation by James A. Rhodes, [regarding Ohio National Guard assignments],
May 5, 1970
Proclamation of civil emergency by Leroy Satrom, [May 2, 1970]
State Highway Patrol, Report of Investigation, "Riot at Kent State
University" [June 13, 1970]
U.S. Department of Justice, summary of F.B.I. report on Kent State shootings,
Sylvester Del Corso, Adjutant General, Ohio National Guard, [documents and
chronology of events]
James A. Rhodes, press conference transcripts, [May 3, 1970]
Robert I. White, press conference transcripts, [May 5, 1970]
"Kent State Criminal Trial" [summaries by Ted Joy], October 21,
1974-November 8, 1974
Miscellaneous documents related to May 4, [includes excerpts from police
log, Ohio use-of-force rules, mass arrest information]
ACLU report, "Potential National Guard Defendants in the Kent State
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