Interview with Thomas D. Clark, May 6, 1981

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Thomas D. Clark was the chairman of the University of Kentucky history department for 23 years. He also serves on the executive committee of the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Clark discusses first starting to travel the state looking for and collecting materials in 1931. He is very proud of the collections at the university and lists a few, like the J. P. Morton and Company collection and the United States documents.

The first scholarly history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was written in 1937 by Dr. Thomas D. Clark. He has expanded and written 25 other books. Some include The Rampaging Frontier; Frontier America; Pills, Petticoats, and Plows; Travels in the Old and New South; and The Emerging South. Clark has also served as president of the Southern Historical Association and the organization of American Historians.

Clark discusses the history department at UK and how it was built into such a successful department without much funding. During his time spent at the university, the history department was ranked in the top 20 departments within the country. Clark gives credit to McVey for fighting for the university press which he says helped the history department. Clark names many of the other professors responsible for the success of the history department like Clement Eaton, Carl Cone and James F. Hopkins. He also describes the "Book Thieves," which was a group of men who exchanged writings and discussed sources, books, and writings. This group consisted of William H. Townsend, Charles Staples, Judge Samuel M. Wilson, Dr. John S. Chamber, and J. Winston Coleman.

Clark also discusses civil rights in Kentucky and some problems in Kentucky's education system. He believes there are always financial problems and politicians have made things difficult as well. Clark also believes that a scholar has an obligation to the society which he is a part of and it is equally important to communicate. Clark is proud to say that during the Julian Carroll administration, $10 million was secured for a state library and archive, something he fought for for a long time. He also touches on attempts to change the Kentucky constitution.

Interview Accession

1981oh077_af137

Interviewee Name

Thomas D. Clark

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1981-05-06

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Clark, Thomas D. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 06 May. 1981. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Clark, T.D. (1981, May 06). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Clark, Thomas D., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. May 06, 1981, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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