Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Thom, James Alexander mss., ca. 1966-2013, consist of the correspondence and papers of bestselling author James Alexander Thom, whose works have sold over two million copies.

Born in 1933 in Gosport, Indiana, Thom graduated from Butler University and subsequently served in the Marine Corps. After an early career as a reporter and journalist at the Indianapolis Star, he joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Journalism. His career as a novelist began in the 1970s. Known for the depth and accuracy of his research, Thom was the inaugural winner of the Gene and Marilyn Glick National Indiana Author Award in 2009. His major historical novels include Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Panther in the Sky. Thom lives with his wife, Dark Rain, in a 130-year-old cabin he rebuilt in the hill country near Bloomington. Dark Rain co-authored Warrior Woman with Thom.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Writings; II. Correspondence; III. Printed; IV. Biographical Material; V. Drawings; VI. Clippings; VII. Business Records; VIII. Writers' Conferences and Workshops; IX. Miscellaneous; X. Audio-Visual; XI. Additions. Writings include research, notes, drafts and page proofs pertaining to novels, articles and short stories by Thom, Dark Rain, both Thom and Dark Rain, and other authors.

Correspondents include: Otis R. Bowen, Richard Cady, Ken Coates, Bill Moyers, Lucia St. Clair Robson, Scott Russell Sanders, Kurt Vonnegut, Howard Zinn.

The Printed series contains Thom's writings, as well as promotional materials and other printed materials. Business Records include contracts and agreements relating to Thom's novels and materials from Dark Rain's service on the National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Council. The Audio-Visual series includes tapes from "James Alexander Thom: Storyteller," a program about Thom's life created by Indiana University Radio and TV Services that aired in 1990.

Additions to the collection include Thom's writings, correspondence, clippings, printed materials, drawings and miscellaneous items. Writings include drafts of Thom's later novels and screenplays for adapted works. Also included in writings is a draft of an unpublished short story, "The Boy Who Didn't Want Anything." Drawings include Thom's comic strip from the 1970s, Mr. Flooby, and an illustration for his novel The Red Heart.

An inventory and a finding aid are available.

Acquired: 2005-2010, 2012, 2013

Collection size: 10,000 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.