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Joe Thompson papers

Call Number: RH MS P871


The Joe Thompson papers are those of a long-time Kansas resident who was highly active in scouting and worked as a social worker at both the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas and the Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.


  • Creation: 1922 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Joe Thompson

Joseph Allen Tinley Thompson was born circa 1906 in Atlantic City, New Jersey to William Elijah and Fannie Ester Thompson. The family moved to Topeka, Kansas when Thompson was 6 months old. He graduated from Topeka public schools and, after World War II, he returned to school, earning a Bachelor's degree in sociology from Washburn University and a Master's degree in social work from the University of Chicago.

In 1951, Thompson went to work as a psychiatric social worker at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; he worked there for 26 years. He also worked as a social worker at Topeka's Menninger Foundation.

Thompson was highly active in the Boy Scouts; in 1924 he became Scoutmaster for Topeka's Troop 22, at that time the town's only African American troop. He earned several awards for his Scouting work, including the Silver Beaver and the St. George Award. He also served on the Jayhawk Area Council's Board.

Thompson also served as an American Cancer Society volunteer for over 40 years and at the Red Cross for over 80 years. He was named Volunteer of the Year by the former group and was made a lifetime director by the latter group. He received the JC Penny Golden Rule Award, a Washburn University Distinguished Alumni Award, and, upon recommendation of Senator Nancy Kassebaum, President George H. W. Bush named Thompson his 835th "Point of Light."

An ordained Episcopalian Deacon, Thompson served as deacon in charge at St. Simon Missonary Church and, later, as deacon at Grace Cathedral in Topeka; at the time of his death he was the senior deacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, and he was made a Canon at the Cathedral.

Thompson's wife, Tracy, died in 1956. Joseph A. Thompson died 23 December 2003.


8 folders (6 folders + 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Joe Thompson Papers date from 1924 to 1990 and consist of scouting information, a scrapbook, a magazine, copied records regarding Thompson's Army service, newspaper clippings, and photographs. The photographs are located at RH MS-P P871 and RH MS-P P871 (f). Oversize materials are located at RH MS Q301.

Physical Location

RH MS P871

Physical Location

RH MS-P P871

Physical Location

RH MS-P P871(f)

Physical Location

RH MS Q301

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Joseph A. Thompson, 1991. Loaned for copying, Joseph A. Thompson, 1991.

Guide to the Joe Thompson Collection
Joe Thompson papers
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2008; revised by, cl 2010; revised by skt, 2010; revised by ce, 2017.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Joe Thompson papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS P871, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States