Thomas J. Whitby Collection

Identifier: BAQ106

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a booklet and CD. The CD contains 6 photos of Basque culture and daily life in Biarritz, France in 1946. Other photos on the CD from the same period feature Thomas J. Whitby in uniform alone and with actress Marlene Dietrich. The booklet titled Biarritz contains photos and artwork of Biarritz a resort town and Basque culture.


  • 1931-1946


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas J. Whitby was born January 12, 1919 in Chicago, Illinois to Clement and Gertrude Whitby. Thomas' father passsed away when he was eight years old, leaving him to grow up as an only child. As a young teen he delivered newspapers and worked in his uncles construction business. By the time he was attending high school, he was workng in the hazardous Chicago blast furnaces of U.S. Steel. Next he learned cartography, while working at Rand McNally and later joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey mapping the Big Bend region of Southwest Texas. In 1943 he joined the U.S. Army and was sent with the 69th Infantry Division to France in time for the Battle of the Bulge. In April of 1945 he was present at the historic meeting of U.S. and Russian forces at Torgau Germany on the Elbe River. This experience inspired him to study the Russian language later in life. At wars end Thomas remained in France traking classes and working in the library of Biarritz American University. While living in Biarritz he developed a life long affection for the Basques.

Upon returning to the U.S., Thomas earned a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Chicago in 1947. He then went on to earn a master's degree in library studies in 1952 at the same institution. During this period he met his wife Mary E. Darrow and they had the first of six children. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1950 where he took a job with the CIA, before moving on to the Library of Congress, where he worked as senior subject cataloger and Slavic science acquisitions specialist. In 1961, the family moved to New Haven, Connecticut where Thomas began working as a special librarian for Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. In 1963 Thomas accepted the position of chief librarian for the Denver division of Martin-Marietta Corp., and moved the family to Littleton, Colorado. Having a long standing interest in teaching, Thomas left Martin in 1968 to became a professor at the University of Denver's Graduate School in Librarianship. After retiring from teaching in 1987, he along with his co-author Suzanne G. Frayser, published Studies in Human Sexuality: A Selected Guide which went on to a second edition in 1995. His last project was a book, From the Marquis to Madonna: A Sex Chronology, 1740-2000, which he finished shortly before his death on November 26, 2003 and after he lost almost all of his eye sight.


Biographical information obtained from biography in Thomas J. Whitby's funeral program and donor correspondence. Both on file at Jon Bilbao Basque Library.


0.10 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Thomas J. Whitby (1919-2003) while in the U.S. Army was posted to the Biarritz American University at the end of World War II to study foreign languages. While there he became very fond of Basque culture. The collection contains a number of photographs he took of Basque life during his stay and a booklet featuring photographs and artwork of Biarritz and Basque Culture.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Michael L. Whitby, Thomas J. Whitby's son, in 2003.



A Guide to Thomas J. Whitby Collection
In Progress
Chris Bruce
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Jon Bilbao Basque Library Repository

1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)