Dr. Thomas F. Staley, former Provost, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Chair of Modern Literature at The University of Tulsa, died March 29th, 2022. He was 86 years old.
Born on August 13, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Staley grew up in Tulsa. He earned a master’s in literature from TU and eventually returned to campus to teach literature for 25 years. During that time, he proved to be a champion for Modernist literature and a powerhouse when it came to collecting archival materials and developing McFarlin Library’s Special Collections into the rich trove it is today.
During his time at The University of Tulsa, Staley was known for his charismatic enthusiasm and was instrumental to the acquisition of papers and collections belonging to literary giants. In addition to our James Joyce materials, we are grateful and esteemed to hold the papers of Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Rebecca West, Anna Kavan, Stevie Smith, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Dorothy Richardson, and Cyril Connolly. Other collections brought to Special Collections during Dr. Staley’s tenure include materials belonging to Walt Whitman, Siegfried Sassoon, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Graves, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Alice B. Toklas, W.H. Auden, Malcolm Lowry, and Katherine Mansfield.
Along with his teaching duties, many books on Joyce, and campaigning for TU to grow its literary archival collections, Dr. Staley is known for founding the James Joyce Quarterly in 1963. Started in his garage with the help of a few students, the journal has continued publication for nearly 60 years, having gained a well-earned international reputation for insightful articles on Joyce and modern literature.
For those of us who work in Special Collections, we see every day the contributions and passion of Dr. Staley and the many others who have helped grow our holdings over the years. We are privileged to work with items like Rebecca West’s notes on the Nuremburg Trials, to hold James Joyce’s necktie in our hands, and to introduce University of Tulsa students to the world-class archives just upstairs in McFarlin Library.