Thomas Cruise Palmer papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk 2019-20.007

Level of description



Thomas Cruise Palmer papers


  • 1913-2019 (Creation)


1.00 Box, .5 linear feet, 15 folders, and 1 book.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Thomas Cruise Palmer was born on April 9, 1917, to Thomas Potter Palmer and Margaret McFadden Palmer. He graduated from Kansas State University in 1938, with a degree in journalism. While at Kansas State University, Palmer was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

After college Palmer went to work full-time for Kansas City Star. The only break in his long career at The Star was when he served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. Ensign Palmer trained in Arizona and California. As a Lieutenant, he joined Admiral Thomas Kinkaid’s Seventh Fleet staff in Hollandia, New Guinea, as a communications watch officer. Accompanying General Douglas MacArthur in his thrust toward Japan, the Seventh Fleet moved its headquarters to Leyte, Manila, and Shanghai in the Pacific theater. As soon as the Japanese surrendered, Lieutenant Palmer was flown to San Francisco to help set up Navy News Bureau, Pacific.

After World War II, Palmer returned to work for the Kansas City Star. On September 7, 1946, he married Dorraine Humphreys Strole. (Her family name was Humphreys.)

In 1959, Palmer was on the first jet plane flight across Europe. Air France had just acquired its first sleek Caravelle Passenger aircraft and scheduled a press trip from Paris to Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. There were one-day stops in each city to demonstrate to future vacation travelers how they might take in some of the world’s top historic sights in less than a week.

Palmer took over the Kansas City Star News Room during the turbulent 1960s: a decade of revolts, riots, and tragic assassinations. He hired the first African-American writers at The Star. Later those reporters served with distinction in the riots that followed the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Because the two top officers on this nation’s first atomic carrier, the USS Enterprise, were from Kansas City and Ava, Missouri, the Secretary of the Navy asked him to go aboard for the maiden voyage to the Mediterranean in 1964. Eight fighter planes, circling high above, made consecutive night landings that were the highlight of the spectacular exercise that he described for Star readers.

Palmer became editor of the Kansas City Star in 1967 and served in that capacity until 1978. In February 1978, he established the Cruise Palmer Distinguished Professorship in Journalism at Kansas State. In the next two decades, Palmer and his wife of 55 years, Dorraine, continued to live in Johnson County and traveled extensively. He and Dorraine had two children, Thomas Cruise Palmer, Jr., born in 1947, and Martha Dorraine Palmer, born in 1949. Both attended Kansas State University.

He was an avid following of sports, including the Kansas State Wildcats teams, the Kansas City Royals, and the Kansas City Chiefs. He volunteered for the Red Cross, City Mission in Kansas City, Missouri, and other organizations.

An ardent amateur golfer, Palmer was a longtime member of Milburn Golf and Country Club, and he played in the Hawaiian Open Pro-Am 22 years and several other Pro-Am events.

In 2002, Palmer wrote a book titled The Kansas City Star Bosses of the News Room. Earlier in his career, he wrote the stylebook for the Kansas City Times and Star. He died on March 18, 2011.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Photographs, correspondence, articles, news clippings, personal papers and other documents describing the life and career of Thomas Cruise Palmer (KSC, 1938), who from 1952 to 1977 served in various editorial positions with the Kansas City Star and Times, including ten years as executive editor. An advocate and supporter of K-State and its journalism program, Palmer was instrumental in acquiring the endowment establishing the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications. News articles, photographs and military records describe Palmer’s service in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, including his experience onboard the first Navy ship to enter Shanghai after the end of the war. Materials also include articles written by Palmer during his time at the Star, items related to his activities as a student and, later, a supporter of K-State, personal and family history-related documents and photographs with Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ginger Rogers and other notables.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged by folder.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restrictions. All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Original materials are available during open hours of repository and any digitized materials that are online are available with the Internet.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Materials donated and shipped to the Morse Department of Special Collections by Tom Palmer in early August, 2019. Processed by Cynthia Harris in January 2020. It received Accession Number 2019-20.007.

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Tom Palmer, August 2019.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

These documents represent the life of Thomas Cruise Palmer, his time in the Navy during WWII, and his time at the Kansas City Star newspaper.


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Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Thomas Cruise Palmer papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Cynthia Harris, Library Assistant III/Manuscripts/Collections Processor, processed and described the materials in January 2020 and curator David B. Allen reviewed the finding aid in March 2020.

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Physical storage

  • 5" Flip Top, Legal: Box 1, A83412075392