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.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Thomas, John F(rederick)
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.