Perry M. Thomas Collection

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Thomas, Perry M., 1905-1977
Perry M. Thomas collection
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical Note

Perry Marsden Thomas was born on December 27, 1905. He attended Kansas State University studying engineering for two years and while there participated in ROTC. He then transferred to the University of Wisconsin as a pre-med student. He was forced to stop attending college because of the Great Depression. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Thomas was activated into the Army and became a 1st lieutenant. He was later assigned to the Army Air Corps due to his knowledge of high speed motion photography and flying. Thomas was part of the team that photographed the nuclear tests at the White Sands Proving Ground near Roswell, New Mexico. He then became part of Operation Crossroads.

OPERATION CROSSROADS was a U.S. Army and Navy project in Bikini Atoll to test the effects of atomic blasts on the fleet. The first test, “A,” was conducted on July 1, 1946 to measure the effects of an atomic bomb detonated above ships moored in the lagoon. During the second test, “B,” on July 25, 1946, an atomic bomb was detonated under water.

Major Perry M. Thomas served as the Chief of the Photographic Engineering Section, Task Unit 1.52 assigned to photograph the tests from land and air. He supervised the installation and maintenance of motion picture equipment and electronic controls for unmanned cameras. During the actual tests, he also served as a photographer.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The Perry M. Thomas collection contains a scrapbook about Operation Crossroads, a dvd of a newsreel about the tests on the Bikini Atoll, and the canvas military duffel bag the scrapbook was donated in. The Operation Crossroads scrapbook contains documents about the mission including location charts, diagrams of cameras in airplanes, data about the equipment, as photographs. There is also a history of the operation written by Perry Thomas. The photographs in the album include staff members, airplanes and cameras in the airplanes, photographic equipment, preparation for the tests, testing of the bombs, life on Kwajalein Base, and native Bikini atoll residents. There are also a small number of images of tests in Alamogordo, New Mexico as well as copies of published documents of eyewitness accounts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings from the New Yorker Magazine.

The newsreel was possibly produced by the Army or Navy, and contains footage of the tests and preparations. Also included is the book Operation Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record by Historian, Joint Task Force One published in 1946. The book contains photographs with caption of the preparations and tests of Operation Crossroads.

The electronic resources contains the files from the digitized film of the newsreel.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections April 2013

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

 Added electronic resource CW December 2013

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University or other copyright holders listed on material.

Custodial History

Scrapbook, film, and duffel bag donated by Kevin Thomas. Book donated by Ray Walsh.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings


  • Scrapbooks
  • Videorecordings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands)
  • Kwajalein Atoll (Marshall Islands)


  • Atomic bomb
  • Operation Crossroads, Marshall Islands, 1946
  • Photography
  • World War, 1939-1945

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory


Operation Crossroads scrapbook 1945-1946 

Disk Box

Dvd of newsreel (see Archivist for access) September 1946 


Canvas duffel bag 


Book: Operations Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record by Historian, Joint Task Force One 1946 


Electronic Resources 


Operation Crossroads (The Able and Baker Atomic Tests) 1946 


Return to Table of Contents »