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Alonzo Thomas Collection

Identifier: MS-2016-12

Content Note

The Alonzo Thomas collection consists of images, press clippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and ephemera which document the personal life and professional career of Alonzo Thomas, a Topeka-based watch manufacturer and jeweler.


  • 1870 - 1971

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher, to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Biographical / Historical

Alonzo Thomas was born on January 28, 1877, in Topeka, Kansas, to Chester and Mary Elizabeth Thomas. He studied horology ‒ or watchmaking ‒ at what would become the Bradley Polytechnic Institute in Peoria, Illinois, before opening his first store in Topeka near the Santa Fe railroad depot. In 1902 Thomas married British-born Annie B. Porter, who eventually became secretary-treasurer of his business, the Santa Fe Watch Company. Since railroad employees needed highly accurate timepieces on the job, Thomas's Santa Fe Special watch became popular within the profession, as well as with military service members. During the 1910s and 1920s the company dealt in watches and jewelry and was innovative in conducting mail-order business and allowing for payment through the installment plan. In 1942 the couple sold the business and retired, traveling and devoting themselves to philanthropy within the Topeka region. Alonzo Thomas died on January 1, 1969; Annie survived him until 1973.


3.0 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Series 1 -- Correspondence
Series 2 -- Images
Series 3 -- Scrapbooks and Artifacts

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Dennis Coffey, 2008-11

Processing Information

JZ, 2016-04

Alonzo Thomas Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wichita State University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Special Collections and University Archives
Wichita State University Libraries
1845 Fairmount
Wichita KS 67260-0068