Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Thomas D. Clark, October 9, 1990

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:16 - Initial involvement with Phi Alpha Theta

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Partial Transcript: Well, Dr. Clark, this morning I'd like to talk to you about your relationship and work with, uh, Phi Alpha Theta over the years.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas D. Clark begins to talk about his introduction to Phi Alpha Theta, an American honor society. He talks about receiving an invitation to attend the first meeting. He received a letter from Dr. Nels Cleven explaining that he had been accepted to the organization. He talks about meeting with the group once a month.

Keywords: 1937; American honor societies; Annual meeting; Faculty; Fraternity; Invitation; Kentucky; Letters; Nels Cleven; Phi Alpha Theta; Ruby Murphy; Sponsors; UK; University of Kentucky honors program

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:04:49 - Impression of the national Phi Alpha Theta group

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Partial Transcript: What, what were your initial impressions of the national group?

Segment Synopsis: Clark says he didn’t know Phi Alpha Theta held a national convention at first. He was lost at first because he did not know anyone there. He talks about different schools being part of the organization.

Keywords: Active; American honor societies; Fraternal; Fraternity; Graduate programs; Greek alphabet; Indiana University; Integration; Introduction; Lost; Phi Alpha Theta; Prestigious; Ritual; Schools; Secondary schools; Selective; Success; Time; University of Kentucky honors program

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:09:56 - Becoming the president of Phi Alpha Theta

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Partial Transcript: Now Dr. Clark, you had a way of joining organizations and then becoming actively involved and then becoming president of just about everything you were involved in.

Segment Synopsis: The national meeting of Phi Alpha Theta was held in Lexington, Kentucky the year Clark became president. He cannot recall how he became national group vice president. He was president for two years after filling out Francis Bowman’s term. He talks about Nels Cleven's presidency and Donald Hoffman's role as secretary and treasurer. Clark says Cleven had a strong case of paranoia and hated Don Hoffman. He wrote letters that were not always nice. He says that Cleven was against Hoffman because he was an aggressive promoter. Clark talks about calling for an audit of Phi Alpha Theta, in part due to his experience with a money scandal in the Mississippi Valley Historical Association.

Keywords: Activities; American honor societies; Audits; Authority; Clarence Payne; Dwight Dumont; Francis Bowman; Fraternity; Funds; Jobs; Letters; Lexington, Kentucky; Mississippi Valley Historical Association; Money; Nels Cleven; Numbers; Older people; Painful; Parents; Pay; Phi Alpha Theta; Presidential address; Presidents; Rank; Responsibility; Scandals; Secretary; Success; Terms; Time; Vice presidents

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Lexington (Ky.); Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:21:15 - Impressions of local chapters of Phi Alpha Theta

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Partial Transcript: As you, as you traveled around meeting the different chapters, uh, uh, what were your impressions of the strength and, uh, of the value of the local chapters of Phi Alpha Theta?

Segment Synopsis: Clark was always interested in the professors who sponsored the chapters. He believed that the European professors were better at helping out rather than the American professors. He liked to meet the seniors and juniors of the local chapters.

Keywords: American; American honor societies; European; Initiation; Local chapters; Phi Alpha Theta; Professors; Seniors; Sponsored

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:28:02 - Suicide of a Phi Alpha Theta member

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Partial Transcript: By the way, there was a very active member of Phi Alpha Theta at the University of Arkansas that was a sad case indeed.

Segment Synopsis: John Pine is described as a very active member of Phi Alpha Theta. He had a seeing eye dog because he was visually impaired. At the Cleveland meeting he committed suicide and it was a tragedy for all of Phi Alpha Theta. Students had the opportunity to publish writings because they published "The Historian."

Keywords: Active members; Cleveland (Ohio); Friends; John Pine; Low vision; Meeting; Phi Alpha Theta; Seeing eye dogs; Suicide; University of Arkansas; Visual impairment

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:29:11 - Phi Alpha Theta's relationship with other organizations

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Partial Transcript: When you look at the, uh, development of Phi Alpha Theta over the years...

Segment Synopsis: Clark describes the development of Phi Alpha Theta. He said that Theta never tried to compete with any other organizations. Theta helped many students find jobs and get involved with many organizations.

Keywords: Competition; Education; File; Historical organizations; Home; Jobs; Organizations; Phi Alpha Theta; Professional organizations; Publishing; Status; Students; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky honors program

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:38:04 - Phi Alpha Theta annual meetings

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Partial Transcript: The meetings and the, uh, publications and that, that leads me to wonder was there ever a attempt to, to go to annual meetings of Phi Alpha Theta?

Segment Synopsis: Clark says that Pi Alpha Theta handled their business at professional meetings. The biannual students brought in students that didn’t bring as much to the table as the other people. He says that Theta was a very active, strong organization.

Keywords: Active; Annual; Biannual; Business; Fraternity; Meetings; Phi Alpha Theta; Professional meetings; Publishing mediums

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:40:52 - Clark’s goals and expectations for Phi Alpha Theta

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Partial Transcript: Talking about, uh, what, uh, what needs to be done in a, in a association or an organization like Phi Alpha Theta...

Segment Synopsis: Clark says he was interested in recruiting new members and students. He loved history and wanted to bring it into Theta. He loved getting the faculty and staff involved with the students. He wanted students to think outside of classroom settings. He increased the number of chapters and involvement at other universities.

Keywords: Chapters; Classroom; Department of History; Goals; History; Involvement; Number; Phi Alpha Theta; President; Research; Students

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:44:22 - Phi Alpha Theta "Eggnog Convention"

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Partial Transcript: Donald Hoffman once wrote that he thought he met you at that 1937 convention.

Segment Synopsis: Clark talks about the eggnog convention, named because it was around Christmas time. He briefly describes some relationships he had with people who attended the eggnog convention.

Keywords: Christmas; Donald Hoffman; Eggnog Convention; Friends; Meetings; Phi Alpha Theta

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:45:29 - Publishing and book awards

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Partial Transcript: I later on became chairman and served I, I don't know how many years--ten years I think--somewhere in that neighborhood--on the book, uh, prize committee.

Segment Synopsis: Clark talks about serving as chairman of the book prize committee. He talks about his general view on book prizes. He talks about some of the winners of the prize during his tenure on the committee.

Keywords: America; American historical sources; Awards; Books; Deadline; Department of History; Education; Effort; Funds; History; Publish; Smart; Winning

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:52:23 - People who impacted Thomas D. Clark

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Partial Transcript: I--in looking through some of your documents I get--you know, with the--and what you've said today...

Segment Synopsis: Clark says Donald Hoffman played a key role in Phi Alpha Theta. He talks about many professors that have impacted his time in Phi Alpha Theta. He thinks Dr. Green, Francis Bowman, and Turner made astounding contributions. He believes many people helped Phi Alpha Theta thrive.

Keywords: Contributions; Donald Hoffman; Dr. Green; Education; Effort; Francis Bowman; Fraternity; Greek; Integrated; Phi Alpha Theta; Professor Boland; Professors; Turner; University of Kentucky honors program

Subjects: College environment; College teachers.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky