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The Thomas C. Stanford Papers: A Guide

MSS 12


The Stanford papers at Boise State University Library document the political, business, and ranching interests of Thomas C. Stanford (1865-1946), one of the prominent citizens of Blaine County, Idaho. In several hundred letters written from 1900 to 1945, he forcefully advocated the cause of the sheep rancher and farmer, addressing the problems of grazing, irrigation, wool marketing, and government in general. The Stanford papers are a valuable primary resource for the study of politics and agriculture in southern Idaho in the first half of the twentieth century.


Table of Contents

Biographical Sketch
Scope and Contents Note
Container List


Biographical Sketch


Thomas C. Stanford was born September 30, 1865, in Logan, Utah, a son of Stephen and Louisa (Forman) Stanford. His father, a native of England, came to Utah in 1861. Of the ten children, Thomas C. was the fifth and was four years old when the family moved to Salt Lake City, where he grew up and received a basic education. He later attended the Brigham Young Academy. When nineteen years old he came to Albion, Idaho. In 1884 he located a homestead in the Little Wood River valley, which was the center of his operations as a rancher and stockman. In 1895 he bought additional land and engaged in sheep raising as well a continuing his interests in cattle and horses. He was regarded as one of the most successful producers of livestock in Idaho. In his later years he also raised hogs on an extensive scale. His home place consisted of one hundred sixty acres near Carey, Blaine County, Idaho. Further down the valley he had two hundred forty acres of land. Both farms were under irrigation and capable of producing fine crops.

Mr. Stanford was an important factor in the organized activities of Idaho stock growers and in 1908-10 served as president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. He was instrumental in getting much legislation passed beneficial to wool growers, and as president of the association called the first meeting that led to the organization of the National Wool Warehouse.

In politics a Republican, Mr. Stanford was a member of the Ninth Idaho State Legislature in the lower house (1907), and Governor Hawley appointed him a member of the livestock board of the state.

In June 1900, he married Ida Ivie, daughter of John Ivie, an old Indian scout, who served during the early Indian wars in Utah. The four children of their marriage were: Roka, Esther, Charles, and Frank. Mr. Stanford was for a number of years actively connected with the Mormon church and served as a missionary in New Zealand for three years. Mr. Stanford assisted in developing irrigation projects in Blaine County and surrounding parts of Idaho. Mr. Stanford’s name seems to have been associated both as a worker and liberal contributor to all the community development projects in the Little Wood River valley for many years. He was an organizer of the local telephone company at Carey, served as vice president of the company, and was afterward elected its president. He was also one of the organizers of the Carey State Bank and at one time was president of the Cooperative Store.

He moved to Boise in 1945 due to ill health and passed away January 14, 1946. He is buried in the Cloverdale Memorial Park, west of Boise.

                                                                                                 --Don P. Haacke (1976)


Adapted from a biographical sketch in History of Idaho, by Hiram T. French (1914), Volume 3, page 1118.

Scope and Content Note


The papers of Thomas C. Stanford were donated to the Boise State University Library by Ronald Stanford, a grandson, of  Boise, Idaho. The papers had been placed in the office of Dr. Glen Barrett, Boise State University history professor, in 1970 after Ronald Stanford wrote a short paper on the history of the Carey State Bank. In September 1974, a contact was made with the Stanford family and negotiations made to place the papers in the Boise State University Library. The transfer from Dr. Barrett’s office was accomplished in November of 1974.

Thomas Stanford corresponded widely. He kept copies of both his outgoing and incoming correspondence. Much of this correspondence pertains to his interest in sheep raising, wool marketing, grazing rights and fees, irrigation, etc., particularly in Blaine County. Letters to almost all of the members of Idaho’s congressional delegation from 1910-1945 may be found in the papers along with their responses. With wide ranging interests in ranching and contemporary politics, Stanford’s correspondence reflects a sharp mind certainly not isolated or unmindful of the flux of national and state trends in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

Mr. Stanford kept his correspondence in chronological order, interfiling incoming and outgoing letters. This collection preserves the original order. He received a number of letters from William E. Borah. In 1940 he sent originals of most of these to Washington State University to be used by Claudius O. Johnson in his biography of Borah. Typed copies were retained. The originals were never returned, although Washington State University Library has provided Boise State University with photocopies (Box 3, Folder 9). Stanford also sent Johnson several reminiscences of Borah, copies of which are included with the Stanford-Johnson correspondence (Box 3, Folder 3).

Other persons represented by correspondence include U.S. Senators John Thomas, James P. Pope, D. Worth Clark, and Henry C. Dworshak; Congressman Addison T. Smith; Governor C. Ben Ross; and friends Gibson A. Condie (of Hailey, Idaho), Joel L. Priest (of Boise), and Albert S. Erickson (of B. Harris Wool Company, Salt Lake City). The many letters to Erickson contain informal reports on the condition of the sheep industry in southern Idaho in the 1920s and 30s. A number of the letters to and from Idaho’s congressional delegation relate to the boundaries of Craters of the Moon National Monument and grazing rights within the preserve. There is one letter (1908) from U.S. Senator Reed Smoot of Utah defending Gifford Pinchot’s forest policies against Stanford’s criticisms (Box 1, Folder 3). Stanford opposed Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential candidacy in 1912, largely because of Roosevelt’s conservation policies, which Stanford believed “tied up all our natural resources” (Box 1, Folder 4).

Mr. Stanford’s dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and brief affiliation with the Progressive Party in the mid-1920s is also documented in his letters. Other items of particular interest in the collection include a short autobiographical memoir (Box 1, Folder 1); a one-page typescript entitled “What I Saw During One of My Severe Heart Attacks,” describing an out-of-body experience (Box 1, Folder 1); naturalization papers (1935) for Pedro Cenarrusa of Blaine County (Box 2, Folder 10); and a microfilm of Mr. Stanford’s missionary journal in New Zealand (1889-1893) (Box 5). The Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (in Salt Lake City, Utah) also holds a copy of the microfilm; the location of the original journals is not known. The Stanford collection at Boise State University also contains Stanford’s business and legal papers and information on the lobbying efforts of ranchers’ associations and canal companies.

The Thomas C. Stanford papers were used by Ronald L. Hatzenbuehler and Merwin R. Swanson for their article, “Has Idaho Ever Had a Realigning Election?” published in Rendezvous (Idaho State University), vol. 24, no. 1 (1988).  The collection was also used as a source for two historical works published by the National Park Service: “Craters of the Moon National Monument: An Administrative History” (1992), by David Louter, and “Craters of the Moon National Monument: Historic Context Statements” (1995), also by David Louter.   All are held by Albertsons Library.  The collection may be examined, by appointment, in the Special Collections Department of the Boise State University Library.

                                                                                                --Don Haacke(1976)
                                                                                                --Alan Virta  (1989)


            Inclusive dates: 1889-1945
             Collection size: 2 linear feet (5 boxes     Includes 1 reel of microfilm
            Collection number:     MSS 12
            Processed by:     Don P. Haacke (1976)
                                      Brian Brown     (1989)


Container List


Series I:  Biographical Material

            Box 1,  Folder  1  Biographical Material

Series II: Correspondence

            Box 1,  Folder  2  Undated

                                       3  1900-1908

                                       4  1910-1919

                                       5  1920

                                       6  1921

                                       7  1922

                                       8  1923

                                       9  1924

                                     10 1925

            Box 2,  Folder 1 1926

                                      2  1927

                                      3  1928

                                      4  1929

                                      5  1930

                                      6  1931

                                      7  1932

                                      8  1933

                                      9  1934

                                    10  1935

                                    11  1936

                                    12  1937

           Box 3,  Folder  1  1938

                                      2  1939

                                     3  1940

                                     4  1941

                                     5  1942

                                     6  1943

                                     7  1944

                                     8 1945

                                     9  William E. Borah (1901-1939)(Photocopies)

                                   10  John M. Haines (1914)  (Photocopies)


Series III:  Miscellaneous

           Box 4,  Folder  1  Wm. E. Borah:  Speeches (1930-1937)

                                     2   Wm. E. Borah: Clippings

                                     3  Henry Dworshak: Capital Gleanings (1945)

                                     4  Congressional bills(Grazing, etc.) (1921-1945)

                                     5  Agricultural and reclamation concerns (1938-1945)

                                     6  Water rights and irrigation (1921-1930)

                                     7  Photographs

                                     8  Miscellaneous

                                     9  Notebook

                                   10  Arbitration record (water rights) (1921)

           Box 5,  Microfilm        Missionary journals (1889-1893)and Maori language books

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