Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Thompson Travel and Ethnic Arts Artifacts Collection

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1950-1970
Creator: Thompson, Harold Lincoln and Sara Conn Thompson
Extent: 24.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0870
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Artifacts, photographs, and slides from presentations made by the Thompsons upon return from their frequent travels. Includes descriptions.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Gift of Sara Conn and Harold Lincoln Thompson beginning in 1974.

Preferred Citation: Thompson Travel and Ethnic Arts Artifacts Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Sara Conn and Harold Lincoln Thompson (1892-1975) were both alumni of the University of Iowa, as were both of their fathers. Harold went on to Rush Medical College in Chicago and took a PhD at the University of Minnesota Mayo Foundation (a copy of his disseration is located in Special Collections at fxMs.T472st). He became a prominent doctor in Los Angeles, specializing in disearses of the stomach. His wife served as office manager for his active practice.

By the 1930s Harold had also become a skilled photographer, successfully competing in regional and national photographic contests. He also collected photographs: 29, some his own, were given to the University of Iowa Museum of Art. By the late 1930s, he had also begun to create 16mm documentary films, a substantial collection of which are currently held by the University of Southern California.

The Thompsons were intrepid travelers, travelling internationally nearly every year and visiting over 119 countries. On return to Los Angeles, they lectured widely about their adventures. As they traveled, in addition to photographing and filming, they collected small artifacts which they exhibited at their lectures and used in promotional literature and as slides. This collection was bequeathed to the Libraries, although some damaged objects and photographs in poor condition were discarded before it was shipped. The Thompson's criteria for acquisition was apparently exhibitability, not dollar or aesthetic value, so the value of individual artifacts is largely modest and the range of quality is quite broad.

Harold compiled three volumes of memoirs, the typecscript of which is in Special Collectons (fxMs.T472re). There is also a volume of his professional writing (fxMs.T742pu) and a scrapbook of memorabilia (fxMs.T472me).

Before their deaths, the Thompsons gave a book collection and made annual gifts to establish a book fund, the Thompson Collection of Travel and Ethnic Arts. After Mrs. Thompson's death, a bequest to the California Community Foundation created an endowment which produces annual income to continue the Collection.

A note on the portrait artist: Edward Runci was born in Genoa, Italy in 1921. With his mother's encouragement, he began drawing at a young age. His family moved to Pennsylvania in 1930 and Edward found success from his paintings in contests and scholarships. His father forced him to forego school and instead gain employment; Edward joined the Marine Corps in 1937 and met his future wife, Maxine Sunderman; the couple married in 1943. His first gallery opening was in 1945. After the war was over, Runci made many portraits of Hollywood residents. In the later forties he became well known for his pin-up and calendar girl paintings.

The artifact collection is recorded here with images arranged by the box in which particular artifacts reside. Descriptions (and dollar values) are taken from an inventory made of the collection shortly after Mrs. Thompson's death and before the collection was transferred to the University Libraries. Much of the information regarding acquisition doubtless came from the Thompsons themselves.

Browse by Series:
The detailed description has not been entered into the repository.
To view the content list, please follow this link.

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.