Thomas Franklin Mayo Papers

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Reference code

US TxAM-C 159

Level of description



Thomas Franklin Mayo Papers


  • 1914-1915; 1945-1953 (Creation)


1 Box

Name of creator

Biographical history

Thomas Franklin Mayo (1893-1954), librarian, educator, author, and Rhodes Scholoar, was born in Columbia, Mississippi 27 March 1893. He was the son of Col. John P. Mayo. He recieved his early education at the elementary school and at Franklin Academy in Columbia.

Following graduation from Franklin Academy, he enrolled at the University of Mississippi from which he received a B.A. in English in 1913. During the 1913-1914 school year, Mayo taught English and coached athletics at the high school in Oxford, Mississippi. The award of a Rhodes Scholarship enabled the young scholar to enroll at Oxford University in London in 1914. He was awarded a B.A. in English Literature in 1916.

While serving as an ambulance driver in France during 1916, Mayo was induced to accept a teaching position in the English Department at Texas A & M University, then known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. One source reports that a fellow ambulance driver who was the son of the head of the English Department convinced Mayo that Texas A & M was the best school in the world. After two years of teaching in College Station, Mayo enlisted in the navy as an intelligence officer in naval aviation. He served about eighteen months and then returned to Oxford University to continue his education.

In three years at Oxford University, Mayo earned two additional degrees, a B.A. in Modern History in 1921 and a M.A. in English in 1922. At the conclusion of this period, he returned to Texas A & M and resumed his teaching career. He was appointed Associate Professor of English and Librarian. Mayo spent the remainder of his career at Texas A & M except for one year of graduate study at Columbia University, 1927-1928. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1934.

Mayo continued in the dual role of Librarian and Associate Professor of English until 1944, at which time he was named Head of the English Department. In 1935 he had been promoted to the rank of Professor. After serving eight years as Head of the English Department, Dr. Mayo asked to be relieved of the administratie duties on 1 September 1952 so that he could devote full time to teaching and writing. He died 26 June 1954 while visiting friends in Houston, and was buried beside his parents in Arlington National Cemetry.

For a number of years, Mayo had engaged on research on the cycles between romanticism and rationalism in literature and art. He intended to write a book to be entitled The Great Pendulum in order "to establish the fact of the alteration and to show why this happens."Mayo felt that "culture of an age is always romantic when the ruling forces are new forces, and always rationalistic when the ruling forces are old forces." He taught much of this theory to his students in a course on great books.

As an educator, Mayo's chief concern was with what he called "humanistic" education. He explained that he wanted "to broaden and deepen and enlighten the personal quality and the personal attitudes of our students."Mayo felt that such an approach was necessary to counterbalance the great emphasis on "technical" education--teaching the students the necessary skills to obtain and retain a good job--in other departments.

Mayo's goal as a librarian was similar to that in teaching. He strove to emphasize acquistion of books in the fields of art, literature, and history, and to make them readily available to the students. Considering his extremely limited resources and the constant pressures from faculty members for technical books, Mayo faced a terrific struggle to accomplish his goal.

The high esteem in which Thomas F. Mayo was held his colleagues and the students is demonstrated in a special issue of the student newspaper, Battalion, devoted to his memory. Three successive issues contained numerous landatory tributes to him as a teacher and scholar.

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Scope and content

This collection consists of a few letters, notes, drafts, and final copies of book reviews, articles, and chapters of books.

Book chapter topics include Gothic Culture, Medieval Architecture, Romanesque Art and Architecture, Baroque Art, and Renaissance Painting, particularly the paintings of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The bulk of the latter material probably pertains to a book on which Mayo was working at the time of his death in 1954. The book was to have been titled The Great Pendulum and would have recorded the cycles between romanticism and rationalism in art and literature.

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Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

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Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Papers were salvaged from Mayo F. Thomas's office by Robert W. Barzak of the Texas A & M English Department sometime after Thomas's death (1954).


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Newspaper clippings in the REMSTAR 2: Biography Files seem to indicate that more of the book was completed than exists here. At this time, we cannot determine what may have happened to any additional chapters in the final form. One of the executors of the Thomas F. Mayo estate reported that he did not find the writing of any kind.

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Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Cushing Library. All rights reserved.

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