This blog post was written by Emma Whipkey, a masters student in Baylor’s Museum Studies program and a Graduate Assistant at Poage Library.
Clark Wallace Thompson was born in 1896 in Wisconsin. Soon thereafter, he moved with his family to Oregon where he spent the remainder of his childhood and adolescence. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1917 during World War I. A year later, Thompson married Libbie Moody of Galveston with whom he had two children. After the war, Thompson remained in the Marine Corps Reserves and decades later served in World War II. He was passionate about the military, and this dedication ultimately influenced the trajectory of his political career. Clark Thompson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Texas’s 7th district in 1933 and served until 1935. Following some significant redistricting, he represented Texas’s 9th district from 1947 to 1966 when he retired.
During my time at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, my work has focused on the Clark Thompson papers. I have learned about his life and career by reprocessing parts of his collection. I sorted through years’ worth of his professional correspondence to find what had value to potential researchers, rearranged the series within the collection, and composed the finding aid. A finding aid is a tool used to find information within a set of records and consolidates information like the organization and arrangement (how the collection is presented), the scope of the collection (what kind of materials are inside), and an inventory of the boxes and the folders. The finding aid also includes a biography of the subject of the collection to provide a better understanding of who collected the materials.
One of my favorite tasks in writing the finding aid was researching Clark Thompson’s life and career. He was in office in the middle of the 20th century, which was a very interesting time of change. He was friendly with the Kennedys when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and while he mourned the President, he was confident in Lyndon B. Johnson’s abilities to lead the country. He saw several versions of the Civil Rights Bill in the 1960’s and heard from his constituents on various issues. The professional correspondence I sorted through gave me a glimpse into Thompson’s day-to-day operations responding to constituents and colleagues alike. He was incredibly passionate about being a public servant, and his dedication was evidenced in his letters. The finding aid for the Clark Thompson papers is nearly complete and should be available online within the next few weeks.