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William Young Thompson (October 15, 1922 – April 12, 2013)[1] was an historian affiliated from 1955 through 1988 with Louisiana Tech University[2] at Ruston in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. A specialist in the history of his native American South, Thompson served as chairman of the university history department from 1965 until his retirement, when he became professor emeritus.[1]

William Y. Thompson
Revised historian William Y. Thompson IMG 20150727 0013.jpg
Thompson (1970) in Louisiana Tech University The Lagniappe yearbook
William Young Thompson

(1922-10-15)October 15, 1922
DiedApril 12, 2013(2013-04-12) (aged 90)
Resting placeGreenwood Cemetery in Ruston, Louisiana
Residence(1) Clinton, Laurens County, South Carolina

(2) Ruston, Lincoln Parish

(3) Monroe, Louisiana
Alma materThe Stony Brook School

University of Alabama
Emory University

University of North Carolina
Professor at Louisiana Tech University
Years active1950-1988
Spouse(s)(1) Helen Sherard McCarley Thompson (married 1947-her death)
(2) Marie Meade Thompson (surviving spouse)
ChildrenSherard Thompson Lewis

Richard Howard Thompson
Dawn Meade

Don Alan Meade



Thompson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Henry Howard Thompson, a Presbyterian pastor, and the former Frances Ellzey. He attended school in Bristol, Tennessee and at the Christian prep school, The Stony Brook School on Long Island, New York.[1]

During World War II, he was from 1943-1945 a first lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force. He served in the European Theatre of Operations. During the war, Thompson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.[3] After the war, Thompson remained in the United States Air Force Reserve and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.[1]

After the war, Thompson completed his academic studies at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from which he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1946. Thereafter, he obtained the Master of Arts from Emory University, a Methodist-affiliated institution in Atlanta, Georgia.[1] From 1950 to 1955, he was a professor at Presbyterian College in Clinton in Laurens County in northwestern South Carolina. While at Presbyterian College, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.[3]

Robert Toombs of GeorgiaEdit

Thompson's Robert Toombs of Georgia, originally subtitled: The Man Who Almost Became President of the Confederacy, grew from his master's thesis at Emory. The 1966 publication through Louisiana State University Press in Baton Rouge was based on the career of Robert Toombs (1810-1885) of Georgia, before, during, and after the American Civil War.[4] Thompson's writing is thorough and documented and emphasizes Toombs as an unrepentant Confederate who refused to take the loyalty oath after 1865 and remained an undisciplined individualist. Thompson recounts how Toombs before his death viewed the election of the New York Democrat Grover Cleveland as a vindication of southern virtue.[5] Robert Toombs of Georgia is still available in paperback.[1]

Other academic achievementsEdit

In 1984, Thompson published E. M. Graham: North Louisianian, the study of the little-known Evander McNair "Van" Graham, a teacher-turned-attorney who was reared in Alabama but settled in Union Parish. A reviewer of E.M. Graham concludes that there is "much need for historians of the local scene who sense in the life and deeds of less notable figures the stories that undergird a more accurate version of history."[6] On March 27, 1981, Thompson delivered a paper based on this book as the presidential address at the Louisiana Historical Association annual meeting held in Many in Sabine Parish, Louisiana.[6] He had been named the association president in 1980.[7]

Another Thompson work, through Louisiana Tech's McGinty Publications, is Israel Shreve: Revolutionary War Officer, a 100-page biography of the father of Captain Henry Miller Shreve, the namesake of Shreveport and the man who removed the log jam of the Red River. Israel Shreve, a Quaker, fought in the American Revolution.[8]Garnie W. McGinty, for whom McGinty Publications is named, was Thompson's predecessor as Louisiana Tech history department chairman. Thompson also held the Garnie W. McGinty Chair of History at Louisiana Tech.[1]

Thompson was also a scholar of the American Civil War and reflects on how the conflict impacted individual troops: "The American volunteer soldier, entering the battles of the Civil War, faced an entirely different situation [from today's modern soldier]. Ahead lay death from enemy bullets. Behind him plodded a medical bureau inadequately equipped in materiel, spirit, and vision to protect him from destruction by disease."[9] In 1956, he published "The U.S. Sanitary Commission," a study of the forerunner of the American Red Cross, in the journal Civil War History.[10] In 1958, Civil War History published a second Thompson article, "Sanitary Fairs of the Civil War," a study of fund-raising activities to support the Sanitary Commission.[11]

In 1980, on the basis of "extraordinary service and performance in the areas of teaching, research, and/or service to the campus community and the public sector," Thompson was awarded a Louisiana Tech Foundation professorship through an anonymous vote of his colleagues. There is also an endowed professorship named for Thompson's colleague in the history department, John D. Winters, author of The Civil War in Louisiana (1963).[12] The William Y. Thompson Endowed Scholarship at Louisiana Tech is named in his honor.[13] In 1982, Thompson was named "Outstanding College Professor of American History in Louisiana" by the Daughters of the American Revolution.[1]

For a time, Thompson penned a column, "As I Remember," for the Monroe News Star.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Thompson's first wife, the former Helen Sherard McCarley, whom he married on December 27, 1947, at the age of twenty-five,[3] died of cancer. The couple resided in Ruston and had two children, Sherard Thompson Lewis of Little Rock and Richard Howard Thompson of Houston.[1][3]

Thompson spent his later years in Monroe in Ouachita Parish with his second wife, Marie Meade Thompson (born April 1936),[14] the former wife of the historian Carroll Wade Meade (1932-2015) of Tyler, Texas, a decorated veteran of the Korean War, a specialist in ancient history, and the author of five history books who was reared in Pollock in Grant Parish in Central Louisiana. Meade was a member of the Louisiana Tech faculty from 1967 to 2006 and worked as well for the University of Texas at Tyler from 2007 to 2013.[15]

Thompson died at the age of ninety at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe. He is interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Dr. William Y. Thompson". Monroe News Star. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Dates confirmed by the Human Resources office at Louisiana Tech University.
  3. ^ a b c d William Y. Thompson, Who's Who in America Vol. 42 (1982-1983), (Chicago: Marquis Publishing Company, 1983), p. 3329
  4. ^ "Catalogue". Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  5. ^ William Y. Thompson, Robert Toombs of Georgia, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966, Library of Congress No. 66-25722)
  6. ^ a b Wall, Bennett H. (1985). "Book Reviews: E.M. Graham: North Louisianian". Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. 26 (2): 202–204. JSTOR 4232419.
  7. ^ "Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association". Retrieved June 25, 2010.
  8. ^ "Israel Shreve: Revolutionary War Officer". Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  9. ^ Michael Horigan, Elmira: Death Camp of the North, p. 122. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  10. ^ William Y. Thompson, "The U.S. Sanitary Commission," Civil War History 2 (June 1956), pp. 41-63
  11. ^ William Y. Thompson, "Sanitary Fairs of the Civil War," Civil War History 4 (March 1958), pp. 51-67
  12. ^ "University Foundation Professorships". Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  13. ^ "Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund Endowed Professorships". Archived from the original on May 30, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "Marie Thompson, April 1936". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  15. ^ "Dr. C. Wade Meade obituary". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
Preceded by
Joe Gray Taylor
President of the Louisiana Historical Association

William Young Thompson

Succeeded by
Henry W. Morris