Guide to the James Thomas Papers, 1850-1882 (bulk 1852-1861)


This collection contains business and personal correspondence, orders, price bulletins, and other papers, relating to the tobacco business of James Thomas, the tobacco industry in general, and the economic life of Virginia (1850s). Includes information on Thomas' assistance to the Virginia Baptist Seminary (now the University of Richmond). Correspondents and persons mentioned include J. L. M. Curry, George Frederick Holmes, and Basil Manly.

Collection Details

Collection Number
James Thomas papers
Thomas, James
12 Linear Feet, 23 boxes (14,008 items)
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

This collection consists principally of the apparently complete business papers and records, 1850-1863, of James Thomas, Jr. (1806-1882), one of the largest of antebellum tobacco manufacturers. In addition to an extensive business correspondence, numerous orders for tobacco from Maine, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Georgia, the Netherlands, England, and Australia are included, as well as prices current bulletins from firms throughout the world. The collection not only gives a detailed history of Thomas's enterprises, but affords much information on the tobacco industry in general and on other phases of the economic life of Virginia in the 1850s. Some of Thomas's private correspondence is also in the collection, including an occasional letter from such men as J. L. M. Curry and George Frederick Holmes. Some information is given on Thomas's aid to Basil Manly in his work with the Virginia Baptist Seminary (later the Univesity of Richmond), and on his financial assistance, which made it possible for the institution to remain open after the Civil War.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], in the James Thomas Papers Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence and papers, 1842-September 1852
(6 folders)
Box 1
Correspondence and papers, October 1852-April 1853
(6 folders)
Box 2
Correspondence and papers, May - December 1853
(5 folders)
Box 3
Miscellaneous, undated
(1 folder)
Box 3
Correspondence and papers, January - July 1854
(7 folders)
Box 4
Correspondence and papers, August 1854 - February 1855
(7 folders)
Box 5
Correspondence and papers, March - September 1855
(7 folders)
Box 6
Correspondence and papers, October 1855 - April 1856
(8 folders)
Box 7
Correspondence and papers, May - October 1856
(7 folders)
Box 8
Correspondence and papers, November 1856 - April 1857
(6 folders)
Box 9
Correspondence and papers, May - October 1857
(6 folders)
Box 10
Correspondence and papers, November 1857 - March 1858
(5 folders)
Box 11
Correspondence and papers, April - August 1858
(6 folders)
Box 12
Correspondence and papers, September - December 1858
(4 folders)
Box 13
Miscellaneous, 1858
(1 folder)
Box 13
Correspondence and papers, January - May 1859
(5 folders)
Box 14
Correspondence and papers, June - October 1859
(5 folders)
Box 15
Correspondence and papers, November 1859 - March 1860
(5 folders)
Box 16
Correspondence and papers, April - August 1860
(5 folders)
Box 17
Correspondence and papers, September - December 1860
(4 folders)
Box 18
Correspondence and papers, January - June 1861
(6 folders)
Box 19
Correspondence and papers, July 1861 - December 1862
(6 folders)
Box 20
Correspondence and papers, 1863-1879 and undated
(3 folders)
Box 21
Virginia receipts, undated
(2 folders)
Box 21
Virginia receipts, undated
(5 folders)
Box 22
Virginia receipts, undated
(4 folders)
Box 23

Historical Note

James Thomas, Jr. (1813-1882) was a tobacco manufacturer of Richmond, Virginia.

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The James Thomas Papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1937.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff.