Register of the Kate Thomas Papers,

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Kate Thomas Papers
Dates: 1871-1950 (inclusive)
Collection Number: Mss B 88
Summary: Author, poet, patron of the arts. Author of poem "Hymn of the Pioneer." Published and unpublished poetry and stories.
Repository: Utah State Historical Society

Collection Inventory +/-

Box Folder Contents
box , folder : Published works
box 1, folder 1 : Articles on literature and education
box 1, folder 2 : Travelogues and other prose
box 1, folder 3 : Poetry, devotional and meditative, praise and epic, love and commonplace
box 1, folder 4 : Published songs
box 1, folder 5 : Short stories
box 1, folder 6 : Plays
box 1, folder 7 : Works by others
box 1, folder 8 : Writings on religions [published and unpublished]
box , folder : Unpublished handwritten manuscripts
box 2, folder 1 : Essays
box 2, folder 2 : Poetry
box 2, folder 3 : Short stories
box 2, folder 4 : Plays
box 2, folder 5 : Songs
box 2, folder 6 : Typewritten poems
box 2, folder 7 : Correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning "Poem of the Pioneer"
box , folder : Notebooks, scrapbooks and journals
box 3, folder 1 : Henry W. Naisbitt's Scrapbook: "The Female Poets of Utah"
box 3, folder 2 : Old Mill Exercise Book
box 3, folder 3 : Dog Exercise Book
box 3, folder 4 : Red Swirl Scrapbook
box 3, folder 5 : Record Journal of Love Poems
box 3, folder 6 : Red Scrapbook
box 3, folder 7 : Blue Scrapbook
box 3, folder 8 : Green Scrapbook
box 3, folder 9 : Memorial Record

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

The available biographical information about Kate Thomas is sparse. She was born to Richard Kendall and Caroline Stockdale Thomas in Salt Lake City on 2 July 1871. R. K. Thomas was a prominent retailer, interested in theater. As well as his retailing efforts, he was at one time a choreographer for the Salt Lake Theater for John T. Caine. We can assume that Kate spent some time in her youth minding the family store, but it was the theater, arts, and letters which captured her imagination.

When Kate was 24, her father transformed the family barn into Salt Lake City's first little theater, The Barnacle. The remodeling job was outstanding -- a balcony was created in the hayloft, the stage was built over the horse stalls, and the orchestra pit was the buggy shed. After several puppet shows, and homespun productions which the Thomas children both wrote and performed, The Barnacle caught the attention of the adult theater audience, and the old barn went professional.

Kate Thomas, like her brother Elbert, the Senator, attended LDS Business College and the University of Deseret. She in turn became a confident educator of young women through the University Chronicle, Young Woman's Journal and the Relief Society Magazine. Her essays rarely concern feminist issues, but they never advocate any subservient domestic role for women. Although she admired Joan of Arc and wrote a few pieces about her, Kate Thomas advocated female rights not through her writings, but through her actions. She considered herself to be a woman, independent and intelligent, and saw no reason why other young Mormon women should not be likewise.

The attitudes of her poems and the characters in her short stories suggest that she was a lonely child, if outwardly vivacious, and lived in a world of anticipation and fantasy. People who remember her in her later years said she was full of fun and quite outgoing, but at least in her youth she seems to have been extremely shy of young men. For one reason or another, she never married. Her writing is full of unrequited love for men, and later, an almost sensual passion for women.

The body of her work reflects a basic loyalty to Utah, the Mormon Church and Mormon culture, yet she herself did not spend many of her young adult years in the Salt Lake Valley. She travelled frequently to the East and West coasts, as well as to Europe, and spent several years in New York City in what is now Greenwich Village. From there she wrote her educational articles for the various Mormon publications. But her time in New York was a time of spiritual searching and political activism. She actively explored religions as diverse as Roman Catholicism and Buddhism. Her works include guides to the practice of "complete Yoga consciousness." She participated in "Peace Meetings" during the First World War. Those meetings may have been related to the Debsian Socialist Opposition, which must have had some following in the Village, or to the "Peace Through Victory" campaign of the government. At the war's conclusion, she campaigned openly for the establishment of the League of Nations.

In her later years, she returned to Utah and was a patron, if not a participant, in the arts and theater. Her writings then tapered off; there are few published works included in the collection after 1930, or about the time she was fifty years old. In later years she received national recognition for what is probably her worst poem, Hymn of the Pioneer. Its ideas are almost entirely limited by cliche and convention. Nevertheless, the poem was widely circulated and celebrated in 1947 in honor of the centennial of Utah's pioneer settlers of Zion. She died in March 1950, a few months before her 79th birthday.

Content Description +/-

The works of Kate Thomas, 1871-1950, held by the Utah State Historical Society, are divided into three major sections: published writings which have been clipped from publications, unbound hand and typewritten drafts of published and unpublished work, and her scrapbooks, notebooks, and journals which contain reflections, fragments, and extensive unpublished poetry and short stories. The most important part of the Kate Thomas collection is the scrapbooks, notebooks, and journals. The collection concludes with the Memorial Record from her funeral service. An annotated bibliography of the stories serves as an initial guide to the works.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Restrictions on Access

Administrative Information +/-



Thomas, Kate 1871-1950.




Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008


3 boxes (1.5 linear ft.)

Language of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written in Englishin Latin script

EAD Creation Date: