Thomas, John F(rederick) (1874-1940)

views updated

Thomas, John F(rederick) (1874-1940)

Psychologist and educator who studied parapsychology. He was born on July 22, 1874, in Parker City, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Michigan (LL.B., 1898; M.A., 1915) and after a break of two decades, he went to Duke University to pursue a doctoral program (Ph.D., 1935). Thomas was a member of the Michigan Education Association (president in 1940), the National Education Association, Boston Society for Psychic Research, and Society for Psychical Research, London.

During much of his career Thomas worked for the Detroit public school system. However, he had been interested in psychical research for many years, but did not become actively involved until the 1920s when he sat with the Boston medium Minnie M. Soule (also known as "Mrs. Chenoweth"); she produced what he perceived as strong evidence of survival. He went on to sit with Gladys Osborne Leonard and Eileen J. Garrett. Sittings in 1932 formed the subject of his Ph.D. thesis at Duke: An Evaluative Study of the Mental Content of Certain Trance Phenomena. This was also the first doctoral thesis dealing with parapsychology and the first of several books and articles he contributed to the field. Thomas died November 21, 1940.


Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Gibson, Edmond P. "The Ethel Thomas Case." Tomorrow (summer 1954).

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

Thomas, John F. Beyond Normal Cognition. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research, 1937. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1975.

. Case Studies Bearing Upon Survival. N.p., 1929.

About this article

Thomas, John F(rederick) (1874-1940)

Updated About content Print Article