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Thomas Walsh papers

 Collection 0029-LIT
Thomas F. Walsh (1925-1991) was an American literature professor at Georgetown University beginning in 1956. In his early career, he concentrated his research on Nathaniel Hawthorne and the American Transcendentalists; he later focused on Wallace Stevens and Flannery O'Connor. He met Katherine Anne Porter in 1960 and subsequently published several scholarly works on her writing. Walsh also became acquainted with Porter's friend, Mary Louis Doherty, during his frequent visits to Mexico, where Porter had lived sporadically between 1920 and 1931. In the mid-1970s, he began work on a book that combined his interest in Porter with his love of Mexico. That book, Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico: The Illusion of Eden, was published posthumously in 1992. The collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, publications, work papers for Walsh's books and articles, legal documents, audio tapes, and photographs.


  • 1887-1992
  • Majority of material found within 1921-1992


Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


11.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Papers of Thomas F. Walsh include materials which cover the period from 1897 to 1992; they were collected from approximately 1960 to 1991. There are biographical materials; manuscripts and correspondence relating to lectures, conferences, and scholarly publications; files of research materials; spiral notebooks and notecards containing notes from various sources; audio recordings; photographs and negatives; and copies of books by Katherine Anne Porter. The bulk of the material is composed of Professor Walsh's research materials related to his various scholarly publications on Katherine Anne Porter. These materials include photocopies and transcriptions of primary manuscripts by Porter and others and photocopies of published work by Porter. They also include photocopies and originals of various secondary material on Porter, Mexico, and other subjects (books and parts of books, scholarly articles, dissertations and a master's thesis, newspaper and magazine articles, and book reviews).


Thomas Francis Walsh was born on December 30, 1925, in Boston, Massachusetts. His secondary education was completed at the Boston Latin School. His undergraduate studies at Boston College were interrupted by service in the U. S. Navy during World War II. He took his B. A. from Boston College in 1949, his M. A. in 1951. He held a graduate teaching fellowship at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1951 to 1956, where he completed his doctoral studies in 1956. In that same year, he received an appointment in the English Department of Georgetown College to teach eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature and renaissance British literature. American literature was his primary scholarly interest throughout his teaching career, all of which was served at Georgetown University. His early publications were primarily on Nathaniel Hawthorne and on American Transcendentalism. He then turned his attention to more recent American authors: Wallace Stevens, Flannery O'Connor, and Katherine Anne Porter.

Professor Walsh's interest in Katherine Anne Porter was inspired by her. In the summer of 1960, he met her several times at the Georgetown home of Marcella Comes Winslow. Several times, he and his friend Louis Dupre, at that time also a professor at Georgetown, escorted Porter to mass at the Priory at Georgetown, and Porter reciprocated by entertaining them at dinner in her home in Georgetown. Professor Walsh's first work on Porter, "Katherine Anne Porter's 'Noon Wine Devils'" appeared in 1968.

In the summer of 1958, Professor Walsh made his first trip to Mexico. This was to become an annual pilgrimage, a result of his love of the country and its people which grew from his interest in its art, literature, culture, and politics. In the summer of 1963, he directed Georgetown University's summer program at the Universidad Ibero-Americana in Mexico City. In Mexico City on April 15, 1963, he married Maria de los Angeles Garcia, who had been born and raised there. Their sons Thomas and Eugene were born in 1964 and 1967.

In the mid-1970s Professor Walsh decided to combine his interest in Mexico with his interest in Katherine Anne Porter. The result was his most important work, Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico: The Illusion of Eden (1992), a study of the influence of Mexico on Porter's life and work. He began the work with the assistance of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend in 1976. In April 1976, he attempted to renew his acquaintance with Porter, who was then living in College Park, Maryland. That summer in Mexico City, he met Mary Louis Doherty, one of Porter's friends from Mexico in 1920-1921. Doherty urged Professor Walsh to renew his attempt to meet personally with Porter.

In June 1977, Professor Walsh called on Porter in College Park, presenting her with the bark painting by Inocencio Jimenez Chino which once hung in the Katherine Anne Porter Room in McKeldin Library. For a period of approximately eight months in 1977 and 1978, Professor Walsh visited Porter in her College Park apartment, interviewing her about her stays in Mexico and her Mexican works. With her permission, he also photographed her manuscripts and photographs having to do with Mexico. At this time, Porter had not yet conveyed these items to the University of Maryland because she first intended to write her own account of her Mexican experiences.

Although Porter's deteriorating health brought an end to these meetings, Professor Walsh continued his work on Porter, publishing ten articles between 1979 and 1991. These drew from his interviews with her as well as from her manuscripts. In the 1988-1989 academic year, Professor Walsh worked full-time on his monograph supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The completed manuscript was submitted to the University of Texas Press in April 1990. When he died on November 2, 1991, Professor Walsh's Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico was in press. He had been able to make final corrections to the galleys of the book.


This collection has been divided into nine series.
Series 1
Biography, Lectures, Conferences
Series 2
Series 3
Scholarly Publications
Series 4
Research Materials/Subject Files
Series 5
Spiral Notebooks
Series 6
Series 7
Audio recordings
Series 8
Series 9

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Thomas F. Walsh donated a few miscellaneous materials to the Special Collections at the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries in the 1980s. These included offprints of his articles on Katherine Anne Porter. Prior to his death, he expressed the desire for his materials to go to the University of Maryland, College Park, because the Libraries' collection represents the major archive of Katherine Anne Porter materials. His widow and sons made the decision to donate all of his Porter materials, including those designated as the Thomas F. Walsh Papers, to the Libraries. The materials were formally conveyed on June 26, 1992.

Related Material

Related materials can be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter and the Papers of Mary Louis Doherty, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Processing Information

In mid-September 1991, Professor Walsh, his wife, and a friend spent an afternoon going through Professor Walsh's files and research materials connected with Katherine Anne Porter. Some items were discarded, and some additional items were placed in folders, labelled, and interfiled in the existing files in Walsh's home office. Still other items were removed by the friend for use in completing certain tasks for the publication of Katherine Anne Porter and Mexico.

After Mrs. Walsh made the decision to donate her husband's papers to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries, she and an assistant spent approximately two weeks, May 18 to 29, 1992, preparing the papers for professional appraisal on June 1, 1992. During this period, Mrs. Walsh discovered additional research materials, correspondence, and manuscripts relating to Professor Walsh's work on Katherine Anne Porter which had not been filed in his home office. These items were added to the Thomas F. Walsh papers. Loose materials were incorporated into the existing folders. Anomalous items within individual folders were removed and placed in other folders, either an existing folder or a new one. The preliminary inventory for the Thomas F. Walsh papers encompassed the contents of two file drawers as well as several additional boxes of miscellaneous materials.

The papers of Thomas F. Walsh were packed in six boxes on June 24, 1992, the day on which they were transported to the University of Maryland. With the exception of the materials which were transferred from two of Walsh's file cabinet drawers and Walsh's working card file, the materials had no arrangement made by Walsh. As much as possible Walsh's arrangement of the contents of the two file drawers, primary and secondary research materials and correspondence, has been retained in Series IV. The working card file remains intact in Series VI, Notecards 1. The remaining materials were arranged between June 29, and July 25, 1992. The Mary Louis Doherty postcards which were originally filed with Walsh's working card file have been removed and filed as Series II in the Mary Louis Doherty Papers.

Paper clips have been removed from the materials, and letters have been removed from envelopes and flattened. Photocopies have been made of all newspaper clippings, and the clippings have been discarded. Any bibliographical information which might have been lost in the process has been transcribed onto the photocopies. The photographs which were interfiled in Walsh's card file have been photocopied. Walsh's autograph notations on the backs of these photographs have been transcribed onto the photocopies. The photocopies are filed in the original location; the photographs have been removed to the photographs in Series VIII.
Guide to the Thomas F. Walsh papers
Guide compiled by Ruth M. Alvarez.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742